After a nearly year-long hiatus, the FAA’s drone advisory committee (DAC) met June 6 with a new chairman and a tasking from the agency to marshal industry behind a coming requirement that drones be capable of being identified in flight.

The FAA recently postponed the planned release of a remote identification (ID) notice of proposed rulemaking for drones from July to September, and publication of a final rule is “likely up to 24 months away,” according to a presentation by Jay Merkle, executive director of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office.

But Merkle said there is an opportunity now for drone manufacturers and operators to adopt remote ID standards developed by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and ASTM International in advance of the regulation.

The CTA’s portable handheld and in-vehicle electronics committee in April 2017 published guidance for manufacturers on creating physical serial numbers and optional electronic serial numbers to identify individual drones. ASTM’s F38 unmanned aircraft systems technical committee is developing multiple standards for drone hardware, software and components, including for remote ID and tracking.

“We would like to propose that the DAC set up a task group focused on driving industry-led voluntary compliance with Remote ID ahead of the rulemaking,” Merkle told the committee. “We would like the DAC to provide a set of recommendations outlining the process and framework for driving voluntary industry compliance, and our recommendation is that you get that to us in 90 days,” he added.

Completing the Remote ID requirement is fundamental to facilitating more complex drone operations, including flights over people, beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) of the operator, and eventually UAS Traffic Management (UTM), Merkle said.

“If we don’t get Remote ID correct, it’s my view that we will never have UTM,” he said.

Merkle also briefed the committee on planning by the FAA and US Department of Transportation (DOT) to organize a “Drone Safety Awareness Week” series of events in November. The aim is to make the drone-safety week an annual event.

The 35-member group of senior executives representing manufacturers, airports, state and city governments, aviation industry labor groups and trade associations last met as a full committee in July 2018.

After conducting a solicitation to fill open vacancies on the committee, the DOT in May named PrecisionHawk CEO Michael Chasen as chairman of a reconstituted DAC with 12 new members. He succeeds Brian Krzanich, who led the committee since its start in 2016 before resigning as Intel Corp. CEO.

In opening remarks, Chasen said his top priorities for the DAC will be to make recommendations to the FAA on the remote ID regulation, BVLOS flights, counter-UAS systems, the process of obtaining waivers from operating limitations, and developing public-private partnerships to advance the industry.

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com