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DJI urges FAA to reconsider ‘flawed’ remote ID rule in 89-page response

Photo: 84sl, via FAA

Photo: 84sl, via FAA

Drone-maker DJI has filed an 89-page formal comment urging the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow drone pilots to choose which method of remote identification to use with their drones.

DJI’s filing includes an independent economic study that concludes the FAA’s Remote ID proposal would prove nine times as costly as the FAA’s estimates, imposing $5.6 billion worth of burdens on society over the next decade. The analysis finds many of those costs could be obviated if drone pilots could choose between two different methods of compliance, rather than doing both as the FAA proposed.

The economic analysis was prepared by Christian Dippon, Managing Director at NERA Economic Consulting, who considered the societal costs of the FAA’s proposed rule. He concluded the average monthly cost of a remote ID network-based service for a drone user would be $9.83, rather than the FAA’s $2.50 estimate; that demand for drones would fall 10 percent if the FAA’s proposals were imposed as written; and that total costs over 10 years would be $5.6 billion instead of the FAA’s $582 million estimate.

“We have known for years that Remote ID will be required by governments worldwide and will provide members of the public with confidence in productive drone uses, but the FAA’s deeply flawed proposal poses a real threat to how American businesses, governments, educators, photographers and enthusiasts can use drones,” said DJI vice president of Policy & Legal Affairs Brendan Schulman. “We hope our detailed economic analysis and comments, as well as tens of thousands of comments from other concerned parties, will encourage the FAA to develop a more risk-based, balanced and efficient remote ID rule, so our customers and the entire industry are not hurt by the final outcome.”

DJI’s comment was one of more than 53,000 filed by the FAA’s March 2 deadline, available at this link. DJI’s comment is also available for download.

Remote ID allows authorities to identify and monitor airborne drones in near-real time, so they can see the location of the drone as well as a serial number to identify its owner. Congress tasked the FAA in 2016 with exploring consensus-based technology standards that could lead to Remote ID regulatory solutions.

In late 2019, the FAA proposed that almost all drones should broadcast that information directly to nearby receivers, as well as transmit it over wireless networks to a service provider’s database, with an anticipated monthly subscription fee for that service.

DJI and many other drone stakeholders have instead said the FAA should let drone operators choose whether to use broadcast or network solutions for Remote ID. Any new Remote ID rule is unlikely to take effect before 2024.

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