The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to establish the standards for remote identification of unmanned aircraft closed on March 2, 2020. The NPRM garnered over 53,000 comments, both pro and con, concerning the contours of the final rule. While there is still no official word on what the final rule will look like, FAA actions seem to confirm that the final rule will look a lot like the draft rule.
Recently, the FAA announced that it had selected eight companies to assist in establishing the requirements for the future suppliers of remote ID services. Not surprisingly, the FAA partners are companies that have been active in complex UAS operations and aircraft tracking. The list includes Airbus, AirMap, Amazon, Intel, One Sky, Skyward, T-Mobile, and Wing.
It is also clear that the eight companies participating in the Remote ID Cohort will ultimately be the major players in actually supplying the remote ID services. Their ability to shape the technology requirements will obviously give them a substantial advantage in the final selection process.
According to the press release:
The technology is being developed simultaneously with the proposed Remote ID rule. Application requirements will be announced when the final rule is published. The FAA will then begin accepting applications for entities to become Remote ID suppliers. The FAA will provide updates when other entities can apply to become qualified Remote ID USS on FAA.gov.
If the FAA is developing the standards this early in the review process, then it is a sure sign that the rule will not be heading back for a re-design as many commenters requested. Instead, it is a pretty safe bet that the final rule will look a lot like the draft rule, with some minor adjustments. Fortunately, it also means that the projections for how long it will take the FAA to implement the rule once it goes into effect may have been overstated.
The FAA Administrator has made it clear that he wants to see a final remote identification rule by the end of the year. Some have called that goal into question in light of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. However, by pushing forward with setting the remote ID technology standards, the FAA is certainly acting like a December deadline can still be met. Only time will tell.