FAA Acknowledges AMA as a CBO and our Safety Program
Our hobby has faced many challenges this year as we address an increase in government intervention and proposed regulations. AMA has been aggressively advocating for our hobby, and during the past few weeks, we’ve been happy to report successful progress.
Today, our members have yet another AMA government advocacy victory to celebrate.
There has been confusion among our members as to whether operations above 400 feet are permitted by the FAA. AMA has remained steadfast that the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act) permits operations above 400 feet if conducted within our safety program requiring the pilot to be an AMA member, to avoid and not interfere with manned aircraft, and to keep the model in visual line of sight of the pilot/observer. It should be noted that the AMA Safety Code requires model aircraft to remain below 400 feet above the ground when within 3 miles of an airport unless there is an agreement with the airport that allows models to safely go higher.
In January of this year, the AMA requested that the FAA clarify the 400-foot issue in writing. We are happy to share that in a recent letter to the AMA, the FAA recognized AMA’s role as a community-based organization and acknowledged our safety program, including allowing flight above 400 feet under appropriate circumstance.
In this letter, dated July 7, 2016, the FAA states:
“…model aircraft may be flow consistently with Section 336 and agency guidelines at altitudes above 400 feet when following a community-based organization’s safety guidelines.”
“Community-based organizations, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may establish altitude limitations in their safety guidelines that exceed the FAA’s 400 AGL altitude recommendation.”
Essentially, this letter confirms that sailplanes, large model aircraft, turbines, and other disciplines can responsibly operate above 400 feet if the AMA member is operating within our safety programming. Equally important, the FAA again acknowledges AMA as a community-based organization.
This victory falls on the heels of other successful AMA efforts, including an AMA member exemption from the FAA’s Final sUAS Rule (Part 107), the removal of problematic text in the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill, and preserving the Special Rule for Model Aircraft through 2017.
Thank you for your support.
The Final Small UAS Rule
We are pleased to share that the FAA released its final rule for small UAS, which will apply to commercial and civil operations. We believe these rules will be highly beneficial to the UAS industry overall and look forward to seeing widespread commercial and civil operations of unmanned aircraft take flight.
It is important to understand that the final small UAS rule does not change model aircraft operations for AMA members. In fact, the rule affirms Congress’ intent in the Special Rule for Model Aircraft that the FAA not promulgate any additional regulations on our community. We are very pleased that the rule helps to maintain this exemption for model aircraft.
For more on the FAA’s final small UAS rule, we encourage you to read this USA Today story, “FAA completes landmark rules for commercial drones,” which includes a mention of AMA’s analysis of UAS sightings released earlier this month.
Below are some commonly asked questions updated on July 5, 2016:
Q. Where can I read more about FAA's final rule on small UAS?
A: You can read more at www.faa.gov and the 624 page rule at http://www.faa.gov/uas/media/RIN_2120-AJ60_Clean_Signed.pdf.
Q. How does Part 107 affect me as a member? Do I have to take a special test, receive certification, be capped at 400', etc...?
A: The FAA final rule generally applies to all commercial and civil operations, but exempts hobbyists who “satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336.” If you are an AMA member operating within our community-based safety program and are not conducting commercial operations, you are exempt from this rule.
Q. Do I still need to notify airports within five miles of my modeling activities?
A: Yes. This rule does not nullify the airport notification requirement.
Q. Do I still have to register with the FAA?
A: Yes. While the FAA codifies parts of Section 336, the new rule does not preclude the registration requirement. This is something the AMA is still working on.
Q. Do I need to put my FAA number on my model aircraft?
A: Yes, you need to list both your AMA number and Federal registration number on your aircraft. We are advocating to allow members to exclusively use their AMA numbers. We believe an AMA membership already meets the intent of registration, but at this time place both numbers on your aircraft.
Q. Where do I go to register?
A: You can register at http://registermyuas.faa.gov.
Trending Topic: UAS Registration