Back in 2018-2019, the media was flooded with stories about alleged dangerous drone flights and sightings; I suspect these stories were planted by PR agencies on behalf of drone delivery fleet promoters and even government agencies.
The press reports resulted in Congress requiring the FAA to implement a “Remote ID” for model aircraft. The FAA went way beyond that and in December 2019 proposed regulations to require real time tracking of all drone flights everywhere in the U.S. and to eventually ban homemade model aircraft. Ultimately, the FAA adopted only the original remote ID requirement.
But DHS still wants to track all drones. To generate support for this, we are now seeing many “scary news reports”, like the one linked above, alleging new threats from drones. Now, it’s any drone made in China, which is nearly all of them – is a threat to national security.
Simultaneously, the FAA has put out a contract to develop prototype nationwide Remote ID monitoring technology that would receive all remote ID broadcasts and push them into a cloud database. It’s the original FAA proposal in a different form – for tracking all R/C model aircraft over the whole country, in real-time.
The original proposal also limited homemade RC aircraft to flights exclusively at FAA sanctioned and approved model aircraft airfields, and the proposal said that over time, such fields would gradually disappear and eventually, no homemade model aircraft could be flown anywhere in the U.S.
This thinking from the DHS/FAA never went away and they are still working towards this goal.
We can see where this going:
- New regulations will be introduced requiring the FAA to track all drone flights using the Remote ID system, and a network of receivers throughout the country. It’ll be ADSB but for model aircraft.
- Homemade model aircraft will be banned – except for use at FAA sanctioned approved model airfields. This is what was proposed by the FAA in their original remote ID rules.
- Flights outside these areas will require a drone pilot’s license in addition to the remote ID network. Clearly, they do not want “just anyone” flying a drone or model aircraft.
- There will likely still be an exemption for aircraft under 250 grams. Unless they are made in China (which is 100% of them).