Ultimate Guide to Remote Identification (Part 89, Lawsuits, Problems,& More!)

By | January 15, 2021

On December 28, 2020, the DOT put out a press release announcing the remote identification rules, the operations over people rules, and the night rules. The final rules are scheduled to be published sometime in January. The final rules go into effect 60 calendar days later.

Please continue to check back here frequently as I will be updating breaking news.

Summary of the Remote Identification Regulations

The Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Final Rule is the next incremental step towards further integration of Unmanned Aircraft (UA) in the National Airspace System. In its most basic form, remote identification can be described as a “digital license plate” for UA. Remote ID is necessary to address aviation safety and security issues regarding UA operations in the National Airspace System, and is an essential building block toward safely allowing more complex UA operations.

The final rule establishes a new Part 89 in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The final rule has been sent to the Office of the Federal Register and will become effective 60 days after the publication date in the Federal Register. Publication is expected in January 2021. Compliance timeframes and major provisions are summarized below.

Operating Rules

Under the final rule, all UA required to register must remotely identify, and operators have three options (described below) to satisfy this requirement. For UA weighing 0.55 lbs or less, remote identification is only required if the UA is operated under rules that require registration, such as part 107. Operational rules take effect 30 months after the effective date of the rule.

1. Standard Remote ID Unmanned Aircraft:

• Broadcasts remote ID messages directly from the UA via radio frequency broadcast (likely Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology), and broadcast will be compatible with existing personal wireless devices.

• Standard Remote ID message includes: UA ID (serial number of UA or session ID); latitude/longitude, altitude, and velocity of UA; latitude/longitude and altitude of Control Station; emergency status; and time mark.

• Remote ID message will be available to most personal wireless devices within range of the broadcast; however, correlating the serial number or session ID with the registration database will be limited to the FAA and can be made available to authorized law enforcement and national security personnel upon request.

• Range of the remote ID broadcast may vary, as each UA must be designed to maximize the range at which the broadcast can be received.

2. UA w/ Remote ID Broadcast Module:

• Broadcast Module may be a separate device that is attached to an unmanned aircraft, or a feature built into the aircraft.

• Enables retrofit for existing UA, and Broadcast Module serial number must be entered into the registration record for the unmanned aircraft.

• Broadcast Module Remote ID message includes: serial number of the module; latitude/longitude, altitude, and velocity of UA; latitude/longitude and altitude of the take off location, and time mark.

• UA remotely identifying with a Broadcast Module must be operated within visual line of sight at all times.

• Broadcast Module to broadcast via radio frequency (likely Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology).

• Compatibility with personal wireless devices and range of the Remote ID Broadcast Module message similar to Standard Remote ID UA (see above).

3. FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA):

• Geographic areas recognized by the FAA where unmanned aircraft not equipped with Remote ID are allowed to fly.

• Organizations eligible to apply for establishment of a FRIA include: community-based organizations recognized by the Administrator, primary and secondary educational institutions, trade schools, colleges, and universities.

• Must operate within visual line of sight and only within the boundaries of a FRIA.

• The FAA will begin accepting applications for FRIAs 18 months after the effective date of the rule, and applications may be submitted at any time after that.

• FRIA authorizations will be valid for 48 months, may be renewed, and may be terminated by the FAA for safety or security reasons.

Design and Production Rules for Manufacturers

• Most unmanned aircraft must be produced as Standard Remote ID Unmanned Aircraft and meet the requirements of this rule beginning 18 months after the effective date of the rule.

• Remote ID Broadcast modules must be produced to meet the requirements of the rule before they can be used.

• The final rule establishes minimum performance requirements describing the desired outcomes, goals, and results for remote identification without establishing a specific means or process.

• A person designing or producing a standard UA or broadcast module must show that the UA or broadcast module met the performance requirements of the rule by following an FAA-accepted means of compliance.

• Under the rule, anyone can create a means of compliance. However, the FAA must accept that means of compliance before it can be used for the design or production of any standard remote identification UA or remote identification broadcast module.

• FAA encourages consensus standards bodies to develop means of compliance and submit them to the FAA for acceptance.

• Highlights of Standard Remote ID UA Performance Requirements:

o UA must self-test so UA cannot takeoff if Remote ID is not functioning
o Remote ID cannot be disabled by the operator
o Remote ID Broadcast must be sent over unlicensed Radio Frequency spectrum (receivable by personal wireless devices, ex: Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
o Standard Remote ID UA and Remote ID Broadcast Modules must be designed to maximize the range at which the broadcast can be received.

Other Provisions in the Remote ID Final Rule

• Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Out and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Transponder Prohibition for UAS

o The final rule amends Parts 91 and 107 to prohibit use of ADS-B Out or ATC Transponders on UAS unless otherwise authorized by the Administrator, or if flying under a flight plan and in two-way radio communication with ATC.
o ADS-B Out & ATC transponder authorization is likely for large UAS operating in controlled airspace.
o Part 89 prohibits the use of ADS-B Out as a means of meeting remote ID requirements.

• Aeronautical Research

o The rule provides for operators to seek special authorization to operate UA without remote identification for the purpose of aeronautical research or to show compliance with regulations.

• Deviation authority

o Final rule provides a mechanism for the FAA Administrator to authorize deviations from the operating requirements.

• Foreign Registered Civil Unmanned Aircraft Operated in the United States

o The rule allows a UA registered in a foreign country to be operated in the United States only if the operator files a notice of identification with the FAA. This enables the FAA and law enforcement to correlate a remote ID broadcast with a person responsible for the operation of a foreign-registered UA.

Major Changes from Proposed Rule to Final Rule

Network-based / Internet transmission requirements have been eliminated. The final rule contains Broadcast-only requirements.
• UAS operators under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations may continue to register with the FAA once, rather than registering each aircraft. However each Standard UA or Broadcast Module serial number must also be entered into the registration record for the unmanned aircraft.
• ‘Limited Remote ID UAS’ has been eliminated and replaced with Remote ID Broadcast Module requirements to enable existing UA to comply.
• FRIA applications may be submitted to the FAA beginning 18 months after the effective date of the rule, and applications may be submitted at any time after that.
• Educational institutions may now apply for FRIAs as well as community-based organizations.

How the Remote ID Rules Affect FPV Flyers

  • Requires take-off location with GPS which means you need a GPS receiver attached.
  • Unless you broadcast, you can only fly at a FAA-recognized identification area (FRIA). Only recognized Community Based Organizations (CBOs) or educational institutions could apply for a FRIA. See 14 CFR 89.205. Basically, your backyard, your neighborhood park, etc. are all off limits.
  • Recreational flying of the under 250 gram aircraft (0.55 pounds) does not have to be registered or transmit remote id.  Non-recreational FPV flying would require registration and remote ID even if they were flying under 250 grams.

Massive Data Collection and Surveillance with Network ID

Remote ID is part of the Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management System (UTM).  FAA, NASA, DHS, DOD have been working on this.  FAA, DHS, and DOD have a teaming agreement. DHS is going to be a federal Unmanned Aircraft Service Supplier (USS). While the FAA may be collecting alot of the data, DHS could query things in the system. The FAA in explaining their Concept of Operations (CONOPs) regarding UTM, they said the following:

  • “Flight Information Management System/FIMS  FIMS is an interface for data exchange between FAA systems and UTM participants. FIMS enables exchange of airspace constraint data between the FAA and the USS Network. The FAA also uses this interface as an access point for information on active UTM operations. FIMS also provides a means for approved FAA stakeholders to query and receive post-hoc/archived data on UTM operations for the purposes of compliance audits and/or incident or accident investigation. FIMS is managed by the FAA and is a part of the UTM ecosystem.”
    • DHS’s Air Domain Awareness Program is somehow connected to FIMS as a USS. See this Powerpoint presentation.
      • “Air Domain Awareness is understanding everything that is in the air around you . . . Includes all manned and unmanned aircraft”
      • “DHS is teaming with FAA and DOD to evaluate air domain awareness and counter UAS systems in real world situations”
      • The UTM CONOPS says, “The FAA provides services to certain federal public entities in support of public safety and security needs; services may include provision of portals designed to facilitate automated information exchanges and queries to the USS Network for authorized data. Local, state, tribal and federal public entities may have dedicated portals external to the FAA by which they can request and receive authorized information; USSs meet applicable security requirements and protocols when collecting and provisioning data to such entities. Authorization and authentication between entities, using IATF compliant identities, ensure data is provisioned to those permitted to obtain it. Authorized entities utilize USS Network discovery services to identify individual USSsfrom which to request and receive data commensurate with access credentials. USSs must be (1) discoverable to the requesting agency, (2) available and capable to comply with issue request, and (3) a trusted source as mitigation/enforcement actions may be taken as a result of the information provided.
  • “The FAA establishes requirements and response protocols to guard NAS systems and the public against associated security threats. The FAA uses UTM data (e.g., intent, RID messages) as a means of traceability to (1) ensure Operators are complying and conforming to regulatory standards, (2) identify and hold accountable those who are responsible during accident/incident investigations, and (3) inform other NAS users, if needed, of UAS activity in the vicinity of the airspace in which they are operating. The FAA can use near-real time data from UTM to address security needs with respect to operations conducted under ATM, including managing off-nominal and exigent circumstances. They use archived data as a means to analyze UTM operations and ensure NAS needs and safety objectives are being met. The FAA can also use UTM data to notify federal entities of security threats. The FAA leverages the GRAIN and the IATF policies to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the information received from all UTM stakeholders. “
  • “Local, state, tribal and federal entities (e.g., state police, Federal Bureau of Investigation, DHS) require access to UTM data to inform responses to local or federal complaints and safety/security incidents, and the conduct of investigations. Appropriate data access limitations are set by the FAA for individual federal and public/public safety entities (e.g., public information, classified information). Depending on the nature of the safety or security situation, historical or near-real time information may be needed. UTM data deemed publicly-accessible (e.g., RID messages) may be obtained by the general public through thirdparty services/applications and/or the government. UTM data that is not publicly-accessible (e.g., Operator contact information) is managed and provided based on the need to know, the credentials, and the level of access-to-information authorized for the requestor using identities issued compliant to the IATF policies.”
  • “Operators must satisfy FAA-stipulated data archiving and sharing requirements to support safety and security. Stakeholders may need information on active UTM operations for the purposes of aircraft separation and identification of UAS affecting air/ground activities, among other things, such that Operators respond to requests from authorized entities in near-real time; an example of such information is RID messages. Operators are required to archive certain data to support post-flight requests by authorized entities with a need to know (e.g., FAA, public entities), as previously noted; examples of such data may include operation intent, 4D position tracks, reroute changes to intent, and off-nominal event records (e.g., rogue UAS).”

Remote ID Ex Parte Party

It was literally a house ex parte. But this is kinda illegal. The FAA attorneys know that.

49 CFR §5.19 Public contacts in informal rulemaking. I put in bold the really important points.

(a) Agency contacts with the public during informal rulemakings conducted in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553.

(1) DOT personnel may have meetings or other contacts with interested members of the public concerning an informal rulemaking under 5 U.S.C. 553 or similar procedures at any stage of the rulemaking process, provided the substance of material information submitted by the public that DOT relies on in proposing or finalizing the rule is adequately disclosed and described in the public rulemaking docket such that all interested parties have notice of the information and an opportunity to comment on its accuracy and relevance.

(2) After the issuance of the NPRM and pending completion of the final rule, DOT personnel should avoid giving persons outside the Executive Branch information regarding the rulemaking that is not available generally to the public. [I have no idea how the FAA complied with this during the secret FBI academy remote ID demo where the FAA booklet literally says, “Brief summary of demonstration and Q&A” Drone Responders, Pierce Aerospace, NFL security and a bunch of state and local law enforcement went to this special meeting.]

(3) If DOT receives an unusually large number of requests for meetings with interested members of the public during the comment period for a proposed rule or after the close of the comment period, the issuing OA or component of OST should consider whether there is a need to extend or reopen the comment period, to allow for submission of a second round of “reply comments,” or to hold a public meeting on the proposed rule.

(4) If the issuing OA or OST component meets with interested persons on the rulemaking after the close of the comment period, it should be open to giving other interested persons a similar opportunity to meet. [ What about all of the other people who applied to be part of the remote ID cohort but didn’t get chosen like GE, Kittyhawk, etc.? The FAA never gave them an opportunity.]

(5) If DOT learns of significant new information, such as new studies or data, after the close of the comment period that the issuing OA or OST component wishes to rely upon in finalizing the rule, the OA or OST component should reopen the comment period to give the public an opportunity to comment on the new information. If the new information is likely to result in a change to the rule that is not within the scope of the NPRM, the OA or OST component should consider issuing a Supplemental NPRM to ensure that the final rule represents a logical outgrowth of DOT’s proposal.

With all of this in mind, keep reading below to see how the FAA violated things.

Remote Identification Documents/Info Obtained

If you notice anything interesting below in the FOIA responses, please send me an email so we can use it in the litigation. :)

You’ll see a ton of ex parte going on below between law enforcement, DHS, FBI, and FAA. The FAA also did all sorts of stuff with 8 companies on working with RID. This was all done privately.

  • Invite Only Remote ID Demo at FBI Academy (The Public Was Not Invited and FAA Forced Them to Sign a Form Promising to Not Tell You).We found about this because the FAA published a comment here disclosing the existence of this secret demo. https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2019-1100-53261
  • Remote ID Cohort Memorandums of Understand. The FAA picked 8 companies to enter into agreements with to work on remote ID AFTER the remote ID NPRM was published.
    • The MOUs have a lot of troubling statements (note that all 8 companies appear to have the same language in their respective MOUs with the FAA.):
      • “The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is to establish a working relationship between (FAA) and A^3 by Airbus LCC that will facilitate a collaborative working environment for the development of a technical and legal framework for initial prototyping and testing that will inform a national capability for Remote ID Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Service Suppliers (UAS) future for Remote Identification (Remote ID).”
      • “The FAA will: i. Provide access to data sets, ConUse document, draft Performance Rules and ICD. i. Provide subject matter expert review and advice to proposed technology products, concepts, equipment, software, and other related activities.”“A^3 by Airbus, LLC will: i. Participate in monthly meetings (nominally 2 days in duration) in person in the Washington, D.C. area. ii. Send 2-3 representatives from its organization to each meeting referenced in Section 6(c)(i) of this MOU. Representatives that A^3 by Airbus, LLC provides for these meetings must possess the demonstrated capability to cover strategic, technical, and/or legal aspects of Remote ID.”
      • “The FAA, working with the selected industry cohort, intends to build out a feature set and hold a prototype evaluation. The FAA also intends to evaluate the features in the prototype, address findings, and then roll the features out in a larger evaluation.”
      • “Apply collaborative problem solving among FAA and USS (e.g. virtual and in-person workshops) to identify sUAS information sharing needs, assess experience data collected from demonstrations, and recommend system enhancements.”
      • “Demonstration collaboration phase: Establish collaborative problem-solving among FAA, other government entities, and industry cohort to address sUAS Remote ID information and data sharing needs, assess experience data collected from demonstrations, and recommend system enhancements.”
      • “Alternative approaches, technology solutions, development models, business models, evaluation paths, scaling strategies, etc., for information sharing[.]”
    • The actual MOU documents: Certification by the FAA saying these MOUs are true , Airbus,  Airmap,  Amazon,  Intel, Onesky, Skyward, T-Mobile, and Wing
    • The MOUs all said the FAA would provide a ConUse document. Here is the Concept of Use of for Network ID.
    • The MOUs called for meetings with the Cohort. Here is the agenda,   Powerpoint Presentation for the meeting, and the minutes of the meeting.
  • The FAA also has been developing the UAS Digital Investigations (UAS DI) Program.  Here is the CONOPs.
  • FAA Risk Assessment for Remote ID(I redacted the names and addresses)
  • FAA sent out a request for information (RFI) on in March 17, 2020 (NPRM on remote ID closed March 2) to try and obtain answers on how “low altitude manned aviators. . . could participate in Remote ID, access data from the Remote ID USSs, or otherwise benefit from the Remote ID information being transmitted from UAS.” Multiple groups responded but none of those comments have been disclosed. The RFI said, “Responses to this RFI will not be included in the official docket of the NPRM.” On October 22, 2020, Jay Merkle did a presentation to the Drone Advisory Committee which said that they had 30 responses to this RFI. The FAA thought they “missed the mark when communicating what [they] were looking for in the RFI so they wanted to take a second chance at this and asked the Drone Advisory Committee explore this opportunity and make some recommendations. In the 30 responses, the pilot organizations said they see “dubious benefits:
    • UASs have primary responsibility to avoid manned-aircraft.
    • RID is security-centric; it may be inadequate to affect safety.
    • Adding RID receiving capability would be an additional expense burden to low-level aircraft pilots.
    • Low-level pilots are especially concerned with task saturation (e.g., avoiding obstructions & being distracted from the mission).
    • Any solutions should integrate with current avionics (EFB, ADS-B).”
  • FAA Contract to NUAIR for Remote ID Testing as part of UPP Phase 2.
  • 12/17/2020- Jay Merkle (head of FAA UAS Integration Office) sent out a letter to all the tribal leaders. The FAA posted this in the docket.

Remote ID Timeline of Events

  • December 20,2018, FAA posted a RFI for remote id cohort.
  • December 27, 2019, new final rule of DOT rulemaking regulations published. 49 CFR 5.17(a)(2) & (4) says, “(2) After the issuance of the NPRM and pending completion of the final rule, DOT personnel should avoid giving persons outside the Executive Branch information regarding the rulemaking that is not available generally to the public. . . (4) If the issuing OA or OST component meets with interested persons on the rulemaking after the close of the comment period, it should be open to giving other interested persons a similar opportunity to meet.”
  • December 31, 2019, NPRM of remote ID published.
  • January 2020- all the Remote ID cohort MOUs were signed. My theory is this was all rushed to get all signed prior to the 1/27 effective date of the new DOT rulemaking regulations.
  • January 27, 2020, new DOT rulemaking regulations went into effect.
  • February – April? FAA met with cohort representatives regarding remote ID. There were multiple meetings with people from the companies and the FAA.
  • March 17, 2020- FAA sent out a request for information (RFI) on figuring out how have manned aircraft benefit from
  • April 6, 2020 – County of Oneida NY (aka NY Test Site) awarded UPP Phase 2 contract to work on remote ID.
  • April 15, 2020 – DOT IG’s Office published a report showing FAA lacked adequate security for Drone Zone and LAANC systems.
  • May 5, 2020 – FAA put out a press release regarding the cohort being selected. (The MOUs were signed in January).
  • May 8, 2020 – FAA had to send out a “clean up” email regarding the 5/5 press release.
    • “1 Remote ID Cohort Information
      Thanks for the questions we received after yesterday’s press release on the Remote ID Cohort. To clarify, the Cohort is not part of the decision-making process for the proposed Remote ID rule final rule. The Cohort will help the FAA develop technology requirements for other companies to develop applications needed for Remote ID. The comment period on the Remote ID Notice of Proposed Rulemaking closed on March 2, 2020, and the FAA is reviewing the more than 53,000 comments.
      If you are a member of the media, contact us at [email protected] and a public affairs specialist will respond.
      If you are a drone operator with questions about Remote ID, or any other drone-related question, please email [email protected] or call 844-FLY-MY-UA.”
  • September 17, 2020, FAA secret remote ID demonstration at FBI training academy with federal, state, and local, law enforcement and some civilian entities like Drone Responders, NFL security, and Pierce Aerospace.
  • December 17, 2020- Jay Merkle (head of FAA UAS Integration Office) sent out a letter to all the tribal leaders.
  • December 28, 2020- DOT released a press release on the remote ID along with the draft final rules.

Did Anyone Do Anything Regarding Telling the FAA About This Remote ID Ex Parte Fest?

The issue is the ex parte broke out AFTER the comment period closed. Did anyone tell the FAA about this?  Well the FAA attorneys knew. We didn’t have to tell them. (Kathryn Inman who is an FAA attorney was the author of the PDF for the secret FBI academy dem0.  That’s why the FAA posted to the docket TWICE to appear like they were complying with the regulations. ( FBI academy remote ID demo and the letter to all the tribal leaders.)

Tyler Brennan of RaceDayQuads LLC did let the FAA know.  Here is his meeting he did with OIRA, FAA, and DOT.  Tyler’s submission for the meeting is  helpful in understanding why ex parte is really bad:

This is being submitted as it relates to the FAA’s rulemaking activities in adopting a Final Rule based on the NPRM published on December 31, 2019 that provided for public comment until March 2, 2020 but otherwise denied an extension of that comment period.

The FAA has repeatedly engaged in ex parte conversations, meetings, and other communications with the public, government entities, and businesses on the subject of the rulemaking after the NPRM was filed. These activities suggest that communications made privately may or will influence the agency in its Final Rule.

These communications, whether or not having actual influence, prevent the public from being able to reply effectively to the information that was presented privately to the FAA so the FAA could make a fully informed decision affecting the safety and security of the national airspace. It is possible someone in the public could have pointed out some serious life-threatening safety and security flaws that were not previously identified and to forgo this opportunity is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.

Furthermore, the Administrative Procedures Act and the Due Process Clause requires notice; however, we have no notice of what has been presented to the FAA or relied on privately by the FAA which made its way into the final rule.

Not disclosing everything creates the appearance there is one administrative record for the public and this court and another for the FAA. The mere appearance of ex parte raises questions as to whether the final rule was based upon public comments or secret meetings and secret documents. The FAA just needs to make some public argument for the reason why they arrived at their decisions while keeping secret the true primary reason. Communications outside the record seriously frustrate any meaningful judicial review as judges will not ever know what was really relied upon in deciding. This also frustrates any review under the Congressional Review Act.

This raises serious questions of fairness. The undermining of the fairness of the rulemaking process erodes the FAA’s ability to protect the safety of the national airspace. Many individuals will feel victimized and disenfranchised and therefore justified in not complying with the rules. How is anyone supposed to respect the FAA when the FAA is clearly violating their own rulemaking procedures?
Such improper and unfair ex parte contacts include, but are not limited, to the following actual related out-of-record contacts: the remote ID cohort, the secret meeting at the FBI Academy, and Jay Merkle’s presentation at the Drone Advisory Committee.

The final shaping of the rules may have been by compromised among the contending industry forces, rather than by exercise of the FAA’s independent discretion for the public interest.
We are asking that the FAA pause the rulemaking, disclose all of the ex parte events with summaries of those discussions, disclose all of the ex parte documents, allow the public to comment, and then proceed ahead.

Ways to Send Me Remote ID Info

If you want to send me a tip to assist with the litigation, we have multiple options below. Please note no attorney client-privilege will be afforded our communication so if I’m compelled by court order or subpoena to testify, I will. I’ll try to keep everything confidential but if a court order/subpoena comes, I’ll comply. If you want to remain anonymous, PLEASE do not give me anything that could identify you.

  • Physically mail me at 800 Village Square Crossing, 331, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410.
  • You can send me an email at [email protected]
  • Anonymously
    • You can email me with the subject line of “Remote ID” using the following anonymous email services. I tested both of these and they work. Keep in mind that when connecting to these websites you should do it over TOR or a VPN so as to not leave an identifying IP on their website’s server logs of IP addresses. Just copy and paste these into a new browser.
      • https://anonymousemail.me/
      • https://www.5ymail.com/

To verify I received the information you sent, you could check back to this page and I’ll post below here a brief description of what I received unless you tell me in the email to put a certain phrase (example: “Taco55”). If it doesn’t show up, keep on trying to get it to me.

Tips Received:

  • 12/6-Tip regarding ADS-B receivers.