Federal Government Relations

The AMA maintains open lines of communications with key government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Academy advocates for the rights, needs and privileges of the aeromodeling community while keeping the membership informed of statutory and regulatory issues impacting the hobby.

Special Rule Remains Intact

After nearly a year of work, we are happy to announce both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed an extension through September 2017 for the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

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 address the nullify FAA’s regulatory requirement to register model aircraft, we are pleased to share that the problematic language that existed in earlier versions of the 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.

Operating Within a Community-Based Organization

The Special Rule for Model Aircraft, Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, requires that
“the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization” (CBO).
To operate within the programming of AMA, we require membership as members must:

  • 1. Explicitly affirm that they have read, understand and intend to operate within AMA’s safety guidelines as a condition of membership.

    2. Maintain an appropriate level of financial responsibility to afford third party restitution in the event of injury or property damage. (To insure this is met, AMA provides $500k to $2.5 million in liability coverage for each member as a member benefit. This coverage is secondary to any personal liability coverage such as a homeowners policy.)

    3. Interactively participate in AMA’s safety program by providing contact information through which the AMA can distribute relevant safety information such as FAA TFR notices, and by which members can provide input and feedback to the AMA on safety related issues.

  • The Congressional Conference Committee report pertaining to section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act clearly defines community-based organizations as “membership based“ as follows:
    “…In this section the term “nationwide community-based organization” is intended to mean a membership based association that represents the aeromodeling community within the United States; provides its members a comprehensive set of safety guidelines that underscores safe aeromodeling operations within the National Airspace System and the protection and safety of the general public on the ground; develops and maintains mutually supportive programming with educational institutions, government entities and other aviation associations; and acts as a liaison with government agencies as an advocate for its members…”
    The FAA recognizes the Congressional Conference Committee’s definition of a community-based organization in their “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft” which can be read at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/06/25/2014-14948/interpretation-of-the-special-rule-for-model-aircraft.

    The FAA also recognizes the AMA as a CBO in numerous documents including Part 107 and in a letter to the AMA on July 7, 2016

    Other Agencies, Military, and Federal Entities

    We have resolved and collaborated with numerous other federal entities including the USAF, Army Corp of Engineers, National Park Services, FCC, EPA, and the Department of Transportation to address UAS policies.

    If you or your club has a question or would like to discuss an issue, please contact us.

    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.