The FAA has postponed the release of a draft rulemaking for remote identification of drones by two months until December, delaying definition of a means of identifying small unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) from the ground that is considered essential to expanding their use.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) monthly report on significant rulemakings, the FAA expects to publish the Remote ID notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on Dec. 20, with a comment period running through January 2020. Earlier this year, the agency delayed the release of the draft rule to September from July, citing its complexity.

Also delayed by seven months to Sept. 28, 2020 is the release of a draft rule that would establish drone-specific flight restrictions near critical infrastructure.

FAA officials have described Remote ID as the agency’s top regulatory priority for UAVs, and a needed function to allow flights of drones over people and beyond an operator’s visual line of sight.

The agency published an “Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Over People” NPRM in February, with a comment deadline of April 15. The draft status of that rule remains unchanged.

Producing a final regulation for Remote ID could take up to two years after the release of the NPRM. In the meantime, the FAA has encouraged industry to voluntarily adopt a standard developed by ASTM International, which describes local broadcast and network means for a drone to transmit its identification.

An abstract of the rulemaking states that the capability to remotely identify drones “would further address security and law enforcement concerns regarding the further integration of these aircraft into the national airspace while also enabling greater operational capabilities by these same aircraft.”

Commenting on the latest postponements on Twitter, leading small drone manufacturer DJI VP-policy and legal affairs Brendan Schulman said: “These delays are impeding important solutions to security and accountability challenges.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com