rchelicopterhub.com / rchelicopter.hu
03 January 2023

Illegal models in the USA due to Remote ID?

This is the first year under the Remote ID regulations in the United States, and it seems not all parties are prepared. "Not all" means: almost none. There will be serious problems in the States in the very close future. Unless the modelling community in the U.S is lucky enough and the whole regulation system will fall apart, or regulations are tweaked a lot; otherwise there are critical issues.

Illegal models in the USA due to Remote ID?

Fortunately Remote ID requirements affect model and drone pilots and manufacturers in only the USA as of now. Nevertheless the situation seems pretty serious. There are three variations to fly legally in the U.S. since 16th September 2016:

  • Flying with UAS (drone, model) equipped with Standard Remote ID
  • Flying with UAS retrofitted with Remote ID broadcast module
  • Flying at a FRIA location (FAA-Recognised Identification Areas)

These rules will enter in force entirely after 16 September 2023, almost all model pilots are requested to install Remote ID broadcast module to their existing models before the date, or to fly at one of the FRIAs afterwards. As of now, there's no one single FRIA, although, there are 233 flying sites registered in the database of FAA website, perhaps many of these sites will be converted to FRIA. Consequently RC pilots will not be in trouble, just this situation is inconvenient for them. Of course other regulations are also apply, like competence test, registration and so on.

The real issue is the Standard Remote ID which must be fitted in all UAS manufactured after 16 September 2022. The grace period of implementation ended on 16 December 2022, that means, all drones and models manufactured after the date must arrive with Standard Remote ID. In case of drones there's no question: it has to be there.

However models are slightly different. Probably standard kits are not affected, they can be considered as components, and these regulations apply only on complete UAS by our understanding. Kits are uncomplete, therefore manufacturer is the owner, who is assembling the kit and the additional components necessary, it is the owner's responsibility to install Standard Remote ID. Albeit this situation raises a question: "how to install something which is supported by not all components used during assembly, just because the component is older than the requirements - like a transmitter". This gap can be covered by the two alternative ways: Remote ID broadcast module or FRIA. Though, this can still be a legal rabbit hole.

The potential legal debate will affect BNF, ARTF and RTF models. These models are assembled by manufacturers, consequently they must be fitted with Standard Remote ID since 16 September, there is no exception. Neither of them comply with the regulations, even though the rules are clear.

If we are right, and our interpretation is correct, BNF and RTF variations manufactured after the date are sold illegally in the USA, like the OMP M2 BNF or RTF, as they are not fitted with Standard Remote ID, but the situation is not different at the Goosky S2 variants (BNF, RTF). It is a legal question whether not assembled, just models kits including everything you need fall under the requirement of Standard Remote ID or not. Basically this is a legal swamp created by the U.S. Government.

Whilst we tried to research deeper in these problems, we learned that we are not alone with these question. There is a video on the XJET Youtube channel about the exactly same topic just from a different aspect.

Perhaps our legal interpretation is correct, and if we were in any other countries we would not be worried to much about these problems. Like in the UK or in Hungary: governments put rules not making any sense together, and authorities, regulators enforce as much of them as it's absolutely necessary. But this is happening in the United States where lawyers make huge profits from filing silly lawsuits.