Drones are currently an immensely versatile vehicle. Whether in terms of entertainment, or when it comes to tasks to serve in the most varied environments, these flying machines can be a very useful tool. However, its use for other less lawful purposes, can bring serious problems to society. That is why the regulation is increasingly tight.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US government entity responsible for regulations and all aspects of civil aviation in the country, has tightened the rules again. These usually extend a little across the world.

Drone image with digital license plate

Drones with tighter rules

At new rules mean that, starting in 2023, anyone with a drone weighing more than 250 grams (which is the majority of consumer drones on the market today) will have to ensure that their flying machine is equipped with Remote ID technology ) - a kind of “digital registration”. So, in case of need, the authorities can see the location of the drone, the details of the pilot and the characteristics of the equipment.

The new measures, released by the FAA on Monday, December 28, will also allow drones, for certain activities, to fly at night. However, this measure requires the pilot to have extra training in advance.

Implement Remote ID

Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to start incorporating Remote ID into their flying machines. In the meantime, owners will have 12 more months to register their Remote ID.

According to the FAA, homeowners will be able to comply with the Remote ID rule in one of three ways. So, these can:

  • operate a drone with a standard Remote ID that transmits identification and location information for the drone and control command;
  • operate a drone with a Remote ID transmission module (can be a separate device connected to the drone), which transmits identification, location and take-off information;
  • or operate a drone without a Remote ID, but in a specific identification area recognized by the FAA.

Probably drones without the Remote ID module will have to equip it as such. If they do not, there will eventually be fines and other associated offenses if they fly outside the permitted areas. However, from what is said, there will be areas where these drones can fly without the need for this “digital registration”. These areas are to be established later.

Drones with more options to fly

With the world changing, there are companies and services that may need to fly at night. It is not yet a reality in Portugal, but in other countries the delivery of goods is already done via drones. Sooner or later, these technologies will also be made available here and the regulation will be adjusted, as it is now being done in some countries.

Companies like Amazon or Google already need to have their equipment with associated traffic control. This is because with the massification of these devices, there will have to be a way to control the autonomous drones that flew more and more in the city skies.

The new rules open the way for greater integration of drones in our airspace, addressing safety and security issues. They bring us closer to the day when we will see drone operations more routinely, such as parcel delivery.

Explained an FAA administrator, Steve Dickson.

The FAA noted how drones now represent the fastest growing segment in the entire US transportation sector, with more than 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA certified pilots to date. While the vast majority of drone owners pilot their machines responsibly, a small number of people continue to break the law by taking them to restricted areas, such as airports and prisons - one of the factors that motivated the new rules announced this week.

The new rules will be published in January 2021 and will take effect 60 days later.

And in Portugal, where can I fly?

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