Who knew the anonymous tip line would be so busy. This case is due to be heard on December 15th 2021.
I have pulled a couple of bits out that instantly caught my eye and the entire document is there for your reading pleasure.
Petitioners decry the FAA’s remote ID proceeding as a “sham,” and claim thatit produced an arbitrary rule that defies the will of Congress and fails to advanceaviation safety. Pet. Br. 14. In reality, this proceeding was an essential, andexpected, a component of a broader effort to integrate drones into the airspacepursuant to multiple Congressional mandates.
The rules that the FAA adopted were properly teed up in the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), 84 Fed Reg. 72,438 (Dec. 31, 2019) (JA125), were well-supported by the voluminous record amassed in the proceeding, and serve as an essential step to enable the kind of expanded drone operations that will garner significant public benefit. In fact, the rules ultimately adopted by the FAA were more modest in scope than those that had been proposed in the NPRM.
Given the critical importance of remote ID to widespread and expanded dronedeployment, a large number of stakeholders in the drone industry—includingAUVSI and many of its members—were active participants in the FAA’sproceeding. These commenters included companies, associations, and researchinstitutions that have significant experience with building, deploying, and operatingUSCA Case #21-1087 Document #1917775 Filed: 10/12/2021 Page 22 of 60
(Page 22 of Total)
drones, and their comments provided thorough and nuanced analysis about the needfor remote ID and the best way to implement it. The expansive record they helpedto create demonstrated the importance of remote ID to the future of the droneindustry and provided support for particular policy choices that the FAA made in theFinal Rule, including the adoption of a single-tier broadcast remote ID frameworkand the use of geometric altitude, among others.
Numerous drone industry participants discussed the foundational importanceof implementing remote ID to ensure safe and secure drone operations, and the needfor the FAA to take action in the proceeding below. See, e.g., Comments of AUVSI,FAA-2019-1100-43205, at 1 (Mar. 1, 2020) (Add.18) (“AUVSI Comments”);AT&T Comments at 2 (Add.2); Comments of Lockheed Martin Corp., FAA-2019-1100-49902, at 1 (Mar. 2, 2020) (Add.19) (“Lockheed Martin Comments”);Comments of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University’s Mid-AtlanticAviation P’ship, FAA-2019-1100-51738, at 1-2 (Mar. 3, 2020) (Add.22-23)(“MAAP Comments”); Wing Aviation Comments at 4 (Add.11).
Drone industry participants emphasized that the crucial safety and securitybenefits provided by remote ID would facilitate widespread drone operations,including beyond visual line of sight, flights over people, and flights at night. See,e.g., Comments of Aerospace Indus. Assoc., FAA-2019-1100-50889, at 2 (Mar. 2,2020) (Add.30) (“AIA Comments”); Comments of AiRXOS, Inc., FAA-2019-1100-USCA Case #21-1087 Document #1917775 Filed: 10/12/2021 Page 23 of 60
(Page 23 of Total)
50167, at 1 (Mar. 2, 2020) (Add.31) (“AiRXOS Comments”); Comments of AmazonPrime Air, FAA-2019-1100-36349, at 1 (Mar. 2, 2020) (Add.35) (“AmazonComments”); AT&T Comments at 2 (Add.2); UPS Comments at 3 (Add.6);Comments of Verizon & Skyward, FAA-2019-1100-50346, at 1 (Mar. 2, 2020)(Add.40); Wing Aviation Comments at 4 (Add.11).
Commenters also emphasized the extent to which remote ID will drive publicacceptance of widespread drone operations, which is a critical aspect of droneintegration that must accompany sound regulatory policy. See, e.g., AUVSIComments at 1 (Add.18); MAAP Comments at 1 (Add.22); UPS Comments at 3(Add.6). The record further showed that remote ID will set the stage for a futuredrone traffic management system that will fully integrate drones into the nationalairspace. See, e.g., Wing Aviation Comments at 4 (Add.11); Lockheed MartinComments at 2 (Add.20); see NPRM, 84 Fed. Reg. at 72,439 (JA126).
While there was disagreement about whether broadcast or network-basedremote ID provided the best path forward, a number of industry comments addressedthe significant complexities—concerning both operations and implementation—ofnetworked remote ID, i.e., remote ID that required the operator to maintain aninternet connection to transmit information about the aircraft and its operator to acentral service provider. One of these complexities, according to industrycommenters, is that internet access is often unreliable in remote locations, afterUSCA Case #21-1087 Document #1917775 Filed: 10/12/2021 Page 24 of 60
(Page 24 of Total)
natural disasters, and on federal government test range sites. See, e.g., AmazonComments at 2-3 (Add.36-37); Lockheed Martin Comments at 3 (Add.21); MAAPComments at 3-4 (Add.24-25); UPS Comments at 5 (Add.8). Industry also pointedout a host of other difficulties associated with a networked solution, such as the needto be within range of network access points, having to troubleshoot connectivityissues, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and an inability to retrofit existing products.See, e.g., Comments of DJI Technology Inc., FAA-2019-1100-51823 (Mar. 2, 2020)(Add.41) (“DJI Comments”); Lockheed Martin Comments at 3 (Add.21). Industrycomments also highlighted a number of benefits offered by a broadcast solution—including a simplified infrastructure, a lack of dependencies on various externalsteps and services, and tamper resistance—making clear that such a solution couldbe a sensible policy choice for remote ID implementation. See, e.g., DJI Commentsat 21, 23 (Add.42-43); Lockheed Martin Comments at 3 (Add.21).In addition to offering support for a broadcast remote ID solution, industrycomments helped persuade the FAA to revisit several other aspects of the proposedrule. For example, several industry commenters voiced opposition to the FAAproposal to require barometric pressure altitude measurements for the aircraft andcontrol station because barometric sensors are highly susceptible to error and mostaircraft and control stations are not currently equipped to measure barometricpressure altitude. See, e.g., MAAP Comments at 10-12 (Add.26-28); Wing AviationUSCA Case #21-1087 Document #1917775 Filed: 10/12/2021 Page 25 of 60
(Page 25 of Total)
Comments at 18, 20 (Add.12-13). In the Final Rule, the FAA abandoned barometricpressure altitude requirements in favor of geometric altitude and explicitly referredto its review of the public comments opposing barometric pressure altitude as areason for the change. Final Rule at 4420, 4422 (JA33, 35). Additionally, industry
commenters were successful in urging the FAA to expand eligibility for remote-ID-exempt FAA-recognized identification areas to include educational institutions, see,
e.g., AiRXOS Comments at 6 (Add.33); Wing Aviation Comments at 20-21(Add.13-14); Final Rule at 4437 (JA50), and to remove the 12-month limitation onapplications to establish such identification areas, see, e.g., AiRXOS Comments at6 (Add.33); Wing Aviation Comments at 20 (Add.13); DJI Comments at 76(Add.56); Final Rule at 4438 (JA51).
The drone industry also voiced its support for other provisions that the FAAadopted in the Final Rule, including allowing retrofitting of remote ID capability,setting the size threshold for the remote ID requirement at 0.55 pounds, and allowingthe use of a session identification number as a unique identifier during flight, in orderto further enhance operator privacy and security. See, e.g., AIA Comments at 11(Add.30) (supporting the option to retrofit); Skydio Comments at 17 (Add.17)(same); Final Rule at 4431 (JA44) (permitting an operator to retrofit drones with aremote ID broadcast module); AiRXOS Comments at 4 (Add.32) (supporting sizethreshold of 0.55 pounds); UPS Comments at 4 (Add.32) (same); Final Rule at 4403USCA Case #21-1087 Document #1917775 Filed: 10/12/2021 Page 26 of 60
(Page 26 of Total)
(JA44) (setting size threshold at 0.55 pounds); AiRXOS Comments at 13 (Add.34)(supporting the use of a session identification number); DJI Comments at 85(Add.52) (same); Final Rule at 4417 (JA30) (permitting the use of a sessionidentification number to satisfy the unique identifier requirement).The FAA’s Final Rule was thus the culmination of rulemaking efforts thatbegan when the FAA chartered the aviation rulemaking committee pursuant to theExtension Act, and was supported by a robust record before the agency.