If you didn’t think of needing to register your Remote ID (RID) module with the FAA, don’t feel bad. Many pilots never even gave it a thought, myself included.
We need to thank Greg at Pilot Institute for bringing this topic to our attention. Thanks, Greg, you’re awesome man!
As a matter of fact, Greg even did an excellent video explaining this in good detail. If you’re interested in that video see it below:
Now as I said, no one’s really given this much thought to this side of things just yet.
As most of us are aware if you’ve registered a new drone in the last year or reregistered one, registrations of aircraft last for a three-year period.
You may also be aware there is an additional question now when doing so. That question asks if your aircraft is RID-compliant or not.
Those of us who haven’t registered or reregistered an aircraft in the last year haven’t come across this just yet, but will soon, most likely.
This will lead to you and me needing to reregister some of our aircraft; sort of anyway.
More to the point, if you have a registered aircraft that wasn’t marked as RID compliant and has now become RID compliant through firmware updates, you will need to go in and change its RID compliance status and update the aircraft’s information.
Don’t worry, we will be covering that here shortly further down.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Honestly though, registering an RID module makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Since the reality is that it is a separate piece of equipment and is the one piece of gear that will bring you into compliance.
So, none of us should be shocked by the revelation that such a device would have its own registration involved.
This is why we’re going to dig deep and uncover just what it is that you the Pilot needs to do to be RID compliant.
We could point out that this sort of information probably should be more easily assessable, and pilots made more aware of just what is required of them with this upcoming system they are employing and requiring us to take part in.
The FAA has been unusually quiet about all of this, and even sending out some sort of email campaign to registered drone pilots would certainly be appreciated and helpful.
The thing is, this is new, and with any type of new system, there will naturally be growing pains.
The FAA still isn’t sure how all this is going to work themselves, so having a limited amount of hard-to-find information and presenting it in the best way, well we’ll just call them some of those growing pains, you know.
If you’re not familiar with Remote ID, let’s briefly go over its intent and what it is.
If you’re interested in knowing more about RID itself, I would recommend our article covering RID in a more focused article.
What is Remote ID?
In layman’s terms, Remote ID is a means of tracking your aircraft and you. Don’t take my word for it, though.
Here’s how the FAA puts it:
Remote ID is the ability of a drone in flight to provide identification and location information that can be received by other parties.
Now, the FAA has sold this as a license plate for your drone. You would think that they, of all people, would be aware that every registered drone out there has a sort of license plate already.
As a matter of fact, it must be present and visible on the aircraft itself. It’s the aircraft’s FA number issued at the time you registered it.
It’s this very number issued to your aircraft and yourself that tells the FAA who it belongs to and other identifying information about the aircraft itself and so forth.
Now it does look like it is the FA number that will be used when broadcasting the required RID information.
Back to more about what Remote ID is.
Remote ID is the ability of a drone in flight to provide identification and location information and broadcast it in a way that it can be received by those in the vicinity of the aircraft.
As we have learned, that information is not just the aircraft or its position in the National Airspace System, or the aircraft’s identification.
It also includes the location of the ground station at the time of lift-off, which translates to the location the operator is standing when taking off.
It is also here that most, if not all, pilots have an issue. It does not seem that including the location of the ground station in any way would enhance the safety or security of the airspace.
As I pointed out, it’s this point about RID that has most, if not all, against it as a whole and it ties in with this next part of RID.
Who has access to the broadcasting data? Well, the answer to that is the most disturbing of all. Anyone who wants it! That’s the answer.
You would have thought it might have been limited to the FAA, the police, Air traffic control, and possibly firefighters.
People and situations where this information would be helpful or increased importance and need.
From what we can tell the only bit of information not being shared is your name. This would require such an authority to get at least.
However, with the information being shared it isn’t overly difficult to locate the pilot’s name through online records.
Here again, I’ll refer to the FAA’s own words:
Remote ID will require most drones operating in US airspace to have remote ID capability. Remote ID will provide information about drones in flight, such as the identity, location, and altitude of the drone and its control station or take-off location. Authorized individuals from public safety organizations may request identity of the drone’s owner from the FAA.
There are apps out already out, with many more being developed as I write this, that will allow anyone with that app to view and monitor drone flights around them and easily have access to the information that is being broadcast.
One such app already out is the DroneScanner app.
You can go and download this app today, and you will be able to find and locate any RID-compliant drones that are broadcasting within a 1 Kilometer radius of the device running the app.
If you haven’t had a chance yet to test out such an app, I highly recommend you do, so this way you can see first-hand as a pilot what others might be able to see about your flights.
We’ve covered the basic tenants here of what Remote ID is.
Now there are three ways in which you can be within compliance. One is to be flying a RID-compliant drone system.
As we near the actual compliance date, more and more aircraft are being updated to be compliant through firmware updates to enable this feature.
Such manufacturers as DJI, Autel, Yuneec, and Skydio have already started with these updates.
The second means of being within compliance is to use a RID module.
These modules are coming out, with some out already, such as the Dronetag Mini Beacon, or the Bluemark DB120 Beacon, with many companies soon to release their own variations of such modules.
Companies like uAvionix and Drone Defence will soon be adding to the mix.
The third means of flying within compliance would be to fly in a FRIA. These are usually areas devoted to RC model aircraft flying and can be limited in size.
Let’s get to how we actually register one of these modules if that’s the method of compliance you are using.
Registering your Module
One of the first things we’ll want to do is go to the FAA Dronezone. If you don’t already have an account, you’ll want to get one set up.
You probably already have a Dronezone account, as this is where you would register and maintain your drone registration.
Some things have changed a bit over in the Dronezone, with the FAA updating the site. We’ll want to start by selecting “Add Device“.
That will bring up the pop-up window you see below.
One of the recent changes (or, not too recent as it has been in place now for just over a year – I recall last August when registering the Mavic 3 that it was set up like this) includes a new question.
So, let’s go over what we have here.
Very prominently, the first question is, “Does your drone broadcast FAA Remote ID information?” With the choice of yes or no.
Now when I registered the Mavic 3, it did not at that time have Remote ID, so I selected NO. As that aircraft does indeed now have Remote ID, I’ll need to update that aircraft’s information.
As that ties in to registering a RID module, we’ll cover that below in more detail.
Back to our Module though. Once selecting Yes, we can now move down to the next question.
This is UAS Type. By clicking on the selection box, we are presented with two options. One is Standard Remote ID and the other is Remote ID Broadcast Module, as shown here.
Now, if you were to be registering a New Aircraft that is equipped with Remote ID already, you would select Standard Remote ID.
Since we’re working with an attachable Remote ID module, we’re going to select the module option.
Then as you can see, you will need to input the module’s serial number and manufacturer, as well as the model and, if you decide to do so, a nickname for the device.
Once completing this, simply click Add Device, and the module will be added to your cart.
Now, as you can see, the Module is treated no differently than that of a Drone/Aircraft and there is a $5.00 dollar registration fee for it.
This was a question I really wanted to answer, as no one’s really mentioned it previously, and that was if there was a charge or not for the modules. Well, here we now know there is.
Not only has the burden of purchasing these modules been put onto the pilot, the FAA, in their grand wisdom, didn’t even provide free registration for them. WOW!
So, it’s at this time, if you are done, you can opt to checkout or add more devices. Since we’re only doing the module right now, we’ll go ahead and checkout.
The first page we are presented with is an Acknowledgment of FAA Requirements, as shown here.
By selecting the I have read, understand and intend to follow the FAA requirements, the next option will become selectable, and we’ll be taken to the next page, which is the payment page. Shown here.
If you thought I was just going to put my CC information out there, Sorry! It would have been fine, I suppose; after all not like anyone would have done anything bad with such information. Right!
After completing the required information, we can move on to Review and Pay. Shown here.
Then, of course, is the final step, to initiate the payment, and that’s it we’re done.
Our Remote ID module is now registered, and the FAA has lightened the burdensome weight of your wallet by $5.
Now, that’s looking out for a guy.
The only problem now is finding someplace to put the module’s FA number. As I went with the Dronetag Beacon, that’s going to have to be some really small print.
Then, of course, the question remains, does the FA number even need to be on the outside of the module somewhere at all? It states aircraft.
We all see it right, that little statement. “You must mark each aircraft with the assigned unique registration number before it is operated.” Soooooooo! Yeah, I don’t know.
It would be nice to get some more clarity on things just like this. The problem is that the FAA, just doesn’t have those answers any more than you or I do.
A little common sense does come into play, though, if you’re flying within the regulations.
Your aircraft already bears its own FA number, and since the module is an attached device, it would stand to reason that the FA number should represent the aircraft in those cases.
As we can see, though, the module has its own FA number. So, therefore it stands to reason that the module is an independent entity from the aircraft altogether and only represents itself.
Even when going and viewing the Certificate of Registration, we see the module is listed as a UAS or Unmanned Aerial System.
The FAA does not seem to be distinguishing between the two in any way, nor do they seem to have any means of identifying one from the other.
Now, when setting up the Module for the first time, you do enter in the aircraft’s information, which is saved by the manufacturer and the module, which in a very roundabout way, would tie that aircraft to that module, sort of.
I personally will be using my module for a few different aircraft and plan to just change between them in the module’s app.
How the FAA would be aware of this is simply unknown at this time.
It’s these sorts of things that really bring into question the veracity of such a system.
As we get nearer and nearer to the deadline for compliance, we can only hope that the FAA will provide some sort of understanding or guidance to what they’re hoping to achieve with such a half-cooked bird of an idea.
Is it possible that the date will get pushed back, similar to the manufacturer’s compliance date last year? Who knows.
One thing is for certain, this doesn’t appear to be ready to leave the gate for taxiing to the runway as of yet, let alone for liftoff and flight.
That’s it, though. We have now registered our RID module, and from what we can tell, it’s good to go.
We do, however, have that one nagging issue yet. You remember, the one where your registered aircraft needs to have its RID status changed.
Since we’re hovering out here in the FAA Dronezone, let’s see what we need to do.
Changing Registered Aircraft Information
As before, we’ll want to sign into the FAA Dronezone, if you haven’t done so already. After signing in, from the pilot dashboard page select MANAGE DEVICE INVENTORY.
Locate the aircraft you wish to change the information on.
On the far right you will see a vertical ellipsis, the three dots. Click on this to bring up more options.
The edit option will be listed last and is the option to choose.
This will open a popup window like this.
Now, this should be as easy as simply clicking the Yes button on the first question and then switching the UAS type to Standard Remote ID and clicking Save.
However, I did not have the “Hey, everything is great; let’s move along moment.” Nope, my serial number now poses a problem and is showing as invalid.
No need to panic. This was actually expected. Thanks again to Greg at Pilot Institute for having our backs.
He pointed out that there does seem to be some issue with the serial numbers not reflecting the RID serial number change.
In this case, we see that the first part of the Serial number has changed when we go to verify it within the fly app.
It now has a 1581F at the beginning and an additional 0 at the end compared to when it was registered originally.
So, after updating the Serial Number and clicking save, the new information is saved, and you’re done. The aircraft is now known to the FAA as being RID compliant and is reflected as such in its registration.
That’s a wrap
I know it may be difficult to understand why there is an actual need for Remote ID. Believe it or not, there is a need for something like Remote ID.
A system that enables other manned and unmanned pilots and systems to know and be knowledgeable of any presence in their airspace that could pose a potential danger.
Drones have proven themselves to be invaluable within many industries and in law enforcement, firefighting, as well as many other places.
They’re not going anywhere. If anything, we’ll be seeing more and more of them in the skies above us.
As we see the skies fill with more low-altitude aircraft, the need for such a safety system will become more and more prevalent.
Are we seeing the prequel to this sort of system?
NO! Remote ID, as it stands, is a system designed to be more oriented towards the policing of the skies and having a means of punishing pilots by any complainant, whether the complaint is valid or not.
I hope the FAA has prepared itself for the onslaught of frivolous calls and complaints about pilots doing nothing more than what pilots do.
They may have placed a small burden on us pilots to bring ourselves into compliance, but they have no idea the burden they will have when fielding complaints about nearly every drone flight taking place within the NAS.
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!