The FAA Wants to Track the Locations of Drones
Thu, January 27, 2022

The FAA Wants to Track the Locations of Drones

The FAA proposed to have the locations of drones tracked / Photo Credit: chrisdorney (via Shutterstock)


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) required all but the tiniest drones to implement technology that would allow them to be tracked as they fly through the United States airspace, according to Heather Murphy of New York City-based newspaper The New York Times. Federal transportation security Elaine L. Chao said in a statement, “Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the F.A.A., law enforcement and federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction.” 

Drone operators, manufacturers, and other experts sifted through the proposal. Some commended the FAA for creating a system to identify owners of potentially deadly drones while others noted this was going to obstruct drone efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 

Since 2015, operators of drones that weigh more than half a pound have had to be registered by submitting their names together with their emails and home addresses to the FAA. Some federal facilities such as prisons have systems to detect the presence of drones, as stated by Reggie Govan, a former chief counsel to the FAA and is now teaching at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. 

But right now, officials have no way of identifying the owner of a drone or tracking its location. Currently, airports and power plants lack the legal authority to track drones, Govan noted. The proposed regulation mandates all drones over 0.55 pounds to emit a signal. He continued, “Once you have drones that are emitting an identifier then you can have a system that can track all drones.”

Brendan Schulman, vice president for policy and legal affairs at Chinese company DJI, stated that for the past several years, industry leaders and politicians have been attempting to create a drone “license plate system.” Schulman said the proposal made sense. However, he argued that the cost and burden to drone operators remain low. 

For Drone U’s founder, Paul Aitken, he perceived the costs as excessive. He said that finding a reliable internet connection would not be feasible in the locations drone operators fly. Aitken was also concerned about pilots disclosing their locations. He added, “Pilots need privacy to protect them from fear-based citizens who think that drones are spying on them.”