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.

    Government Relations Blog


    Special Rule for Model Aircraft Remains Federal Law

    We are happy to announce big news related to FAA authorization. As of July 15, both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed a 14-month FAA extension, and the President has signed the bill into law.

    We are very pleased that the FAA extension affirms our right to continue to fly within AMA’s community-based safety program and free from additional government regulations. Congress continues to recognize the importance of AMA and our strong commitment to safety.

    As you know, AMA aggressively engaged with Congress to achieve the best possible result for our members. It is through these advocacy efforts that we were able to achieve our goal of maintaining the Special Rule for Model Aircraft and protecting our hobby. This victory adds to AMA’s history of successfully advocating for our members at the federal level, including with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Forrest Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA and Congress.

    There are two important things for all AMA members to know about the extension. The first, and most important for our hobby, is that the extension preserves the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act) through September 2017. And second, while this bill does not nullify FAA’s requirement to register, we are pleased to share that the problematic language that existed in earlier FAA bills has been removed.

    Our advocacy efforts are not over – we continue to work with the FAA on reducing the burden of the registration requirement on AMA members. And, over the next 14 months, we will continue to work with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill that will further strengthen the Special Rule for Model Aircraft and advance other protections of our longstanding hobby.

    We want to extend our appreciation to all of our members and donors for your support throughout this process.


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    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.