FAA issues notice clarifying legal model aircraft use, bans FPV goggles?

Here's the reg. On a quick read, it appears that the FAA is taking a hard line on drones in commercial faming and FPV flight with googles. Only Hobby and Recreation is allowed without a COA

Regarding FPV, this doesn't sound good:

By definition, a model aircraft must be “flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft.” Based on the plain language of the statute, the FAA interprets this requirement to mean that: (1) the aircraft must be visible at all times to the operator; (2) that the operator must use his or her own natural vision (which includes vision corrected by standard eyeglasses or contact lenses) to observe the aircraft; and (3) people other than the operator may not be used in lieu of the operator for maintaining visual line of sight. Under the criteria above, visual line of sight would mean that the operator has an unobstructed view of the model aircraft. To ensure that the operator has the best view of the aircraft, the statutory requirement would preclude the use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and goggles designed to provide a “first-person view” from the model.

Footnote 2: The FAA is aware that at least one community-based organization permits “first person view” (FPV)  operations during which the hobbyist controls the aircraft while wearing goggles that display images transmitted from a camera mounted in the front of the model aircraft. While the intent of FPV is to provide a simulation of what a pilot would see from the flight deck of a manned aircraft, the goggles may obstruct an operator’s vision, thereby preventing the operator from keeping the model aircraft within his or her visual line of sight at all times.

-----------------

Press release here:

For Immediate Release

June 23, 2014
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr. or Alison Duquette 
Phone: (202) 267-3883


Agency issues interpretation of  2012 Reauthorization Law, restates authority to take enforcement action against hazardous operations.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today published a Federal Register notice on its interpretation of the statutory special rules for model aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The guidance comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people.

Compliance with these rules for model aircraft operators has been required since the Act was signed on February 14, 2012, and the explanation provided today does not change that fact. The FAA is issuing the notice to provide clear guidance to model operators on the “do’s and don’ts” of flying safely in accordance with the Act and to answer many of the questions it has received regarding the scope and application of the rules.

“We want people who fly model aircraft for recreation to enjoy their hobby – but to enjoy it safely,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “At DOT, we often say that safety is a shared responsibility, so to help, we are providing additional information today to make sure model aircraft operators know exactly what’s expected of them.”

In the notice, the FAA restates the law’s definition of “model aircraft,” including requirements that they not interfere with manned aircraft, be flown within sight of the operator and be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. The agency also explains that model aircraft operators flying within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower.

The FAA reaffirms that the Act’s model aircraft provisions apply only to hobby or recreation operations and do not authorize the use of model aircraft for commercial operations. The notice gives examples of hobby or recreation flights, as well as examples of operations that would not meet that definition.

“We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground, and the public expects us to carry out that mission,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. 

The law is clear that the FAA may take enforcement action against model aircraft operators who operate their aircraft in a manner that endangers the safety of the national airspace system. In the notice, the FAA explains that this enforcement authority is designed to protect users of the airspace as well as people and property on the ground.

The FAA will be working with its inspectors and model aircraft operators across the country to ensure they give standard information to the public on how to satisfy these statutory requirements and avoid endangering the safety of the nation’s airspace.

The FAA is also developing a plan to work with the law enforcement community to help them understand the FAA’s rules for unmanned aircraft systems, as well as the special statutory rules for model aircraft operators, so they can more effectively protect public safety.

The agency wants the public to know how and when to contact the FAA regarding safety concerns with UAS operations. You can visit the Agency’sAviation Safety Hotline website or call 1-866-835-5322, Option 4.

While today’s notice is immediately effective, the agency welcomes comments from the public which may help further inform its analysis. The comment period for the notice will close 30 days from publication in the Federal Register.  >View the notice

See Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act.

Views: 25137

Comment by ikrase on June 24, 2014 at 8:55am
Any chance of something screwy like an AMA blanket COA?

Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 24, 2014 at 9:25am

No the AMA is completely outside of the talks of UAS integration now. They do not have a seat at the table after 336.

I would put money on this group http://www.suasnews.com/2011/11/10245/uas-arc-2-0/ pulling strings in the background. The AMA along with Patrick were at ARC 1 did'nt tip the nod for ARC 2. The FAA ruled that the businesses on there represented the small industry. 

Comment by Acorn on June 24, 2014 at 9:35am

UAVStuff - I have not been able to find it.

Comment by John Johnson on June 24, 2014 at 9:45am

My interpretation of 336 is that as long as you follow the AMA safety rules and you are not being unsafe, the FAA cannot apply any of their rules or regulations to you.  So you can still fly FPV as an AMA member under AMA FPV and general safety rules.  The new FPV interpretation forces everyone in the direction of the AMA.  See below, it's in the first paragraph.

SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
(a) In General.--Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of
unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including
this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any
rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft,
if--
(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and
within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design,
construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a
community-based organization;


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 24, 2014 at 10:05am

Well the FAA don't like the AMA's FPV regs and considers them inappropriate perhaps.

The FAA is aware that at least one community-based organization permits FPV operations during which the hobbyist controls the aircraft while wearing goggles that display images transmitted from a camera mounted in the front of the model aircraft. While the intent of FPV is to provide a simulation of what a pilot would see from the flight deck of a manned aircraft, the goggles may obstruct an operator’s vision, thereby preventing the operator from keeping the model aircraft within his or her visual line of sight at all times.”

Who knows how this will all shake down. This is not even the event we should be worried about. The small rule making NPRM in November will be all about autonomous flight.

Comment by UAVStuff on June 24, 2014 at 10:21am

Gary, what are your recs for ensuring our demographic is best represented at the November NPRM?

Comment by Wayne Dancer on June 24, 2014 at 10:32am

So, my friend can't use his quad to check his crops anymore?  Stupid. 

Comment by John Johnson on June 24, 2014 at 10:33am

The FAA might not like the AMA FPV regs and their statement comes off as a bit of a "foot stomper".  But 336 tells the FAA to accept and leave alone those entities that they have approved to self regulate.  But it is possible that the AMA will change their FPV regs to appease the FAA.

Can anyone confirm my interpretation or correct me?


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on June 24, 2014 at 10:35am

@UAVStuff I doubt very much that it will happen in November but if it does, I guess its mass letter writing for all interested and maybe joining in whatever http://www.rcapa.net does. 

Comment by UAVStuff on June 24, 2014 at 10:37am

Wayne, it depends.  Does your friend receive pleasure or money from his crops?  Because it's unsafe to make a profit.

(joking of course)

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