3D Robotics

AMA response blasts FAA

3689602326?profile=originalWow. The AMA response to the new FAA rules is scorching: 

States AMA President Bob Brown, “The FAA interpretive rule effectively negates Congress’ intentions, and is contrary to the law. Section 336(a) of the Public Law states that, ‘the Federal
Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model  aircraft…’, this interpretive rule specifically addresses model aircraft, effectively establishes rules that model aircraft were not previously subject to and is in direct violation of the congressional mandate in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill.” The interpretive rule reflects the FAA’s disregard for and its unfamiliarity with the makeup of the modeling community. Nearly 20% of the AMA membership is 19 years old or younger and an even greater percentage is retirees over the age of 65. FAA’s intention to impose a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of our youth and elderly members threatens to destroy a wholesome and enriching activity enjoyed by a vast cross-section of our society.

“AMA cannot support this rule.” said AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson. “It is at best  ill-conceived and at worst intentionally punitive and retaliatory. The Academy strongly requests the FAA reconsider this action. The AMA will pursue all available recourse to dissuade enactment of this rule.”

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  • Thanks, Dan.

    Yes, opening up commercial opportunities needs to happen quickly. Unfortunately, the FAA is probably being distracted by the crazy hobbyists flying dangerously. I'm sure they'd much rather devote their time to the commercial side, rather than drumming up new rules to try and reduce the risks from hobbyists. 

    Here again, the entire community needs to pull together and find good, safe solutions. We need to error on the side of air safety, even if it is an annoyance or an inconvenience to the hobby.

    Look at it this way. If a collision happens between a hobby drone and a real aircraft, the reputation damage to the UAV/drone community will be extensive and will impact all interests - hobby and commercial. The average citizen won't recognize the difference. If lives are lost, then all bets are off as to what congress will do. We can't afford that kind of damage. The commercial side would likely still survive, after months or years of damage control. The drone hobby might not survive at all. 

    So air safety first. Despite the many complaints here about new FPV rules, I'm happy the FAA is actively engaged and working to try to improve air safety. Some ruffled feathers are a tiny issue. But one air disaster averted could make or break the future of this hobby. 

  • Philip, I couldn't agree more with your last post. By and large, the reckless behavior is coming from hobbyists that buy a RTF drone on Amazon and think they can do whatever they want. I can't tell you how many times I have hung my head in disappointment watching some of the videos that get posted by people pushing the limits.

    And I certainly agree the FAA is in a tough spot. All the more reason why expedient, reasonable rule-making for commercial uses is so important. Hopefully the industry will make it through this, and quickly...

  • The AMA rules on FPV are very limiting.  A smart, responsible operator can operate without a spotter, beyond line of site, just as safely as someone operating with a spotter, within line of sight.  I realize the AMA's insurance will probably never allow such, and that is fine.  Stick to the AMA insurance rules to keep the AMA insurance coverage and while at an AMA location.  But in my own yard?  I can operate responsibly BLOS FPV just as well.  Those of us who a responsible wish for reasonable and logical rules.  There is no reason to unreasonably punish everyone for the actions of a few idiots.

  • I just received this e-mail from the AMA:


    On Monday, June 23rd, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released an Interpretive Rule in which it presented FAA's interpretation of the "Special Rule for Model Aircraft" established by Congress in the FAA modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The Academy has reviewed the rule and is extremely disappointed and troubled by the approach the FAA has chosen to take in regards to this issue

    In its Press Release the FAA stated it was, "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." It also stated, "(this) guidance comes after recent incidents involving the reckless use of unmanned model aircraft near airports and involving large crowds of people." It's important to note that very few of these cases have been factually documented and not a single incident was shown to involve a member of the AMA or to be connected in any way to modeling operations conducted under the auspices of the special rule.

    In AMA's response to the rule it was pointed out that, "The FAA interpretive rule effectively negates Congress' intentions, and is contrary to the law. Section 336(a) of the Public Law states that, 'the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft...', this interpretive rule specifically addresses model aircraft, effectively establishes rules that model aircraft were not previously subject to and is in direct violation of the congressional mandate in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill."

    AMA has voiced its opposition to FAA's action and will pursue all available recourse to dissuade enactment of this rule. It's important that every AMA member becomes involved in the effort.

    The first step is to respond to the public comment period established in the notice. Look for a follow-up email from AMA with information on how to respond to the FAA notice. This is your opportunity to express your views and to comment on various aspects of the Interpretive Rule. It's important for the Administration to know that this rule significantly impacts the entire aeromodeling community and that this community is resolute and committed to protecting the hobby. In this case silence IS NOT golden.

    Please alert your friends, family members and fellow modelers regarding this issue.

    Thank you,

    AMA Government Relations

  • Once again, they do not need to prohibit all activity in order prohibit only stupid activity.  

  • Tom, Dan and Owen -- Thanks for you comments. Yes, I agree with what you're saying.

    A couple of thoughts.

    I agree that the commercial authorization of UAVs is moving too slowly. I also think that the risks to aviation from the commercial UAS side will be negligible compared to those created by hobbyists operating outside the rules. Commercial operators will be licensed and trained to follow the rules in order to remain in business -- they will be financially incentivized to act responsibly. 

    Regarding hobbyists and the existing AMA rules, there's clearly a problem with education and enforcement. If every hobby pilot read, understood, and followed the rules, we wouldn't be having this conversation. No 'crazy pilots'. Problem solved. But you're right, there are already rules on the books that cover the dangerous actions of some FPV pilots. Some actions by the FAA as just reactions to current events/evidence -- throwing out new rules. They are in reaction mode, as this hobby evolves and grows faster than they can understand and follow it. I'm sure this is not the position they want to be in, either. Rather than ignore the new clear and present dangers, they react in the interest of safety. 

    I think we can agree that the FAA is in a tough spot. But so are we hobbyists. Irresponsible drone pilots are a major threat to the hobby itself (much less to commercial UAS interests). If the dangers continue to rise and accidents occur, heavier hobby regulations will follow. The entire community needs to face this reality with clear eyes.

    Aviation safety first benefits everyone. We should all be on the same side, imo. 

  • I just joined the AMA.

    Philip - I agree that flying FPV at high altitudes, at night, or in the clouds is dangerous. However, the AMA has rules against that. In one of the papers I had to read before joining, there was a section on what to do when flying at night: keep the aircraft illuminated and in sight of yourself. There was also a rule against flying above 400/500 feet (don't remember which, but the FAA prohibits >400 feet so it's irrelevant) Clearly, the AMA has sufficient rules for FPV flying already.

  • Philip, I agree with you to an extent, and I do believe the last thing we want is a free-for-all. Up until this most recent "interpretation" I have been able to see the FAA's side in all of this. My biggest problem is how they are approaching this whole issue - it seems to me as though they are just throwing "interpretations" and "guidelines" against the wall, sending out contradictory C&Ds, and generally increasing the state of confusion rather than providing any real, actionable framework for this exploding industry.

    I would prefer they concentrate their efforts on building that framework (as congress has instructed them to do), rather than using questionable tactics to enforce rules based on "interpretations" and not real, actual laws. The sooner there is a clear, reasonable path for commercial UAS operators to obtain authorization to operate legally, the better off we will all be, and the FAA can resume its normal activities keeping the skies safe and clear with written regulations to back them up.

  • Developer

    Thank you, Phil, for that. I think it's important for everyone to realize their "I just wanna do whatever I want, I'm not hurting anyone" line of thought is narrow minded. Some people's "whatever" is crazier and more dangerous than others' and a given law has to cover all of this, for better or worse.

  • Just like the FAA, the AMA is way behind the curve on this FPV issue. Is the AMA unaware of the risks to aviation that some FPV pilots are creating right now? Do they not see the videos online of people flying their FPV aircraft for miles, or at high altitudes, or among the clouds, or at night, or combinations thereof? Or are they more focused on the interests of their membership above the interests of overall aviation safety? I hope and want to believe it's not the latter. 

    The AMA seems to be whistling in the wind on this battle. Risks to aviation and human life can never win a fight over the interests of hobbyists. Can it? Should it? 

    I don't mean to be a downer, but it seems like this community needs to face reality. If FPV flights are simply allowed to continue by the FAA, then the chances of an air accident will grow. Worse, if/when an accident does occur, the congress will act quickly to strengthen the FAA's control over the skies and further restrict hobby drones. Can anyone argue that this won't be the likely outcome of an accident? 

    So what kind of future do we all want for this hobby and what is the best way to get there? I think we all want the same thing. Fighting with the FAA over clear, present, and growing safety issues doesn't seem like the right way to get there. 

    The rapid growth of this hobby is also the biggest threat to its future, seems to me (too many drones flown by too many people doing dangerous things). Establishing needed new rules for air safety is a very tough problem that is not going away. The entire community needs to work together on it and get it right.

    So let's work with the FAA and acknowledge that aviation safety first is exactly the right call. 

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