Best watch this if you are in the USA, AMA caves on registration

From the AMA blog, just updated http://amablog.modelaircraft.org/amagov/2016/01/11/update-uas-regis... 

Q: Why did AMA change its position on registration? Why are they telling members to register now?

A: AMA has not changed its position. We continue to be disappointed with the registration rule and believe it is contrary to Congress’s intent within the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. We have been working with our legal counsel and the FAA to find a solution for our members on the registration rule. To date, we have achieved several concessions from the FAA that will help ease this process for our members. However, we want to emphasize that this is not the end of our efforts to protect AMA members from this unnecessary and burdensome regulation. We are continuing to explore all legal and political options available, but these conversations may take time and a long-term solution is unlikely before the February 19 registration deadline. For this reason, we are suggesting that AMA members may wish to take advantage of free registration period, which is available until January 19.

Q: Is the AMA giving up? Why doesn’t the AMA take this matter to court?

A: We are absolutely not giving up. We are continuing to fight for our members and working to protect them from unnecessary and burdensome regulation. AMA is exploring several legal options that would address the registration rule as well. These legal strategies will take time to develop and pursue. We ask for your continued loyalty and patience as we work closely with our legal counsel to find the best path forward.

Q: I am already registered through the AMA, why do I have to register twice?

A: We understand the concern of our members and, while the FAA is open to streamlining the registration for our members, unfortunately the technical issues involved will not be resolved before February 19. Therefore, it will be necessary for current AMA members to register separately with the FAA. For future AMA members, we are working on an agreement with the FAA where new members will be able to opt-in to federal registration via AMA when they join the organization, thereby creating one simple registration.

Q: Am I permitted to fly above 400 feet? What if I had to check a box saying otherwise on the federal registration website?

A: Yes. AMA members who abide by the AMA Safety Code, which permits flights above 400 feet, are still allowed to fly and are protected by the Special Rule for Model Aircraft under the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. The federal registration box requiring agreement to only fly under 400 feet applies to individuals who are not operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization. We have been in discussions with the FAA about this point and the agency has indicted that it will be updating its website in the next week to make clear that this altitude restriction does not apply to AMA members.

Q: Do I need to list both my AMA number and my federal registration number on my aircraft? A: No. AMA has secured a concession from the FAA that allows AMA members to continue using their AMA numbers as the primary identification on his or her aircraft. AMA members are required to still have a hard copy or electronic copy of the federal registration certificate on them while flying.

Q: Do I have to register every aircraft?

A: No. Registration is only required for each operator. AMA members should use their same AMA number on each aircraft they are flying.

Q: Do only drones and multirotor operators need to register?

A: No. Everything over 0.55 lbs (or 250 grams) that uses a ground-control system with a communications link, such as an RC transmitter, is required to register. This includes operators who fly fixed-wing RC aircraft and helicopters, not just multirotors or drones.

Q: I only fly CL or FF, do I need to register?

A: No. If you exclusively fly FF or CL and never plan on using a model that involves a transmitter, then you do not need to register.

Q: Can I fly my large model aircraft? Turbine jets?

A: Yes. The Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, allows AMA members to operate model aircraft over 55 lbs as long as they are operating in accordance with AMA’s Large Model Aircraft safety program. AMA members can also fly turbine jets provided the operator holds a current AMA Turbine Waiver.

Q: Am I permitted to fly first person view (FPV)? Can I fly at night?

A: Yes. AMA members are still protected by the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. As long as AMA members continue to follow AMA’s safety guidelines for these activities, they can continue to fly. The checkbox guidelines listed on the FAA UAS registration website do not apply to individuals who belong to a community-based organization such as the AMA. Q: What happens if I don’t register by February 19?

A: According to the FAA, failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. This could include civil penalties of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties that include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Q: What can I do to help? A: You can help by making your voice heard with the FAA. Specifically we are asking all AMA members to submit comments on the FAA’s interim rule on registration. The deadline to submit comments is Friday, January 15. More details can be found here

Views: 2158

Comment by DG on January 11, 2016 at 10:17am

The AMA argued FAA violated section 336. They most certainly have caved and ran away with their tail between their legs. Either that or sold their soul to the devil to protect only AMA members at AMA sanctioned fields.

Why aren't they supporting John Taylor in his lawsuit filed against FAA? Why is this man doing this on his own?

And where do they get this notion "their" members are immune from certain regulations while non-members are not? Using FPV, particularly googles, does not require one to have visual LOS of their craft. They are talking from both sides of their mouth.

These people are living in a bubble.

Comment by Brian Greeson on January 11, 2016 at 10:24am

I would be interested if they get the "operating under community guidelines" exemption in writing.  Better keep that letter handy in case the gestapo stop you while flying.  That is my biggest fear about this whole registration thing.  I can imagine a kid flying his home built quad getting accosted by an uninformed police officer.  Never mind the fact that this kid is learning more about math, electronics, flight theory, ect than he will ever learn in his under-funded school.


Moderator
Comment by Gary Mortimer on January 11, 2016 at 11:01am

Brian, I think that's just why this makes me so mad. I think of my 11 year old son who, because we are lucky to live on a farm often goes flying before school. He has been flying RC since he was 7 and loves it. I guess were we there we would abide by the rules to make it all cool. But if he had not started and I was a parent over there thinking about what was involved we might not start. Just how many next advances will be missed if a handful of youngsters are not inspired. Just about everybody in this game started by flying model aircraft. DG I hear rumors, one might say lots of hobbits are gathering to try and defeat Sauron. But I can't say any more than that. I'm not in the USA and can fly so why should I care. I should care because other regulators are watching the FAA under the misguided belief that they know best. Might be my country next.

Comment by Matthew on January 11, 2016 at 11:33am

This is not as awful as it seems. AMA seems to have 'won' on several points. For example: community orgs that fly over 400 ft or use FPV. Also AMA is claiming that your FAA# is not required on your aircraft if you already have an AMA number on it, but you do need to have your FAA 'certificate' ready whenever you fly.

I do not want to be in any government database (especially an FAA database that is public), but the only differences between FAA registration and AMA registration are the owner of the database and the rules governing its data.

The real issues are:

1) Who regulates airspace usage and traffic from 0ft to 400ft, are commercial UAS allowed to fly in it, and how do commercial UAS utilize that space without colliding with hobby craft

2) Is the FAA going to step back on its expansion of Drone bans around DC. Last week drones were banned over an additional 2,121 square miles around DC (15 mile radius changed to 30 mile radius), which closed down 14 flying parks including some AMA parks. Is this permanent, and why are they allowed to change their interpretation of the laws/rules any time that they want?

3) Are UAS bans going to be expanded around other special usage areas such as airports?

Honestly, registration is a good thing. It will help this hobby survive when an uninformed, irresponsible pilot crashes into something important. However, making the FAA database searchable public information so that the victims can pilots homes is not so good.

Comment by Mark on January 11, 2016 at 12:27pm

@Matthew,

Your agreement with registration is understandable. But, there is a statistics that speaks - in over 50 years of RC flying how many incidents/collision accidents were between RC planes and full scale?

How many of 700+ incidents reported by FAA are true? In my book - zero. So, FAA pushing it just 'cause they can.

AMA is deep in it and they are trying to maneuver to keep the income coming. Do your math - $50+/year multiply by (how many?) 140,000+ members - that's $7+ million a year. Pretty pocket change for a very little work to do.

Imagine people will drop their memberships altogether - why bother when a $5/per three years will do?

Never mind AMA offers to their members Car/Home/Life Insurance over email. They have pretty good operation there and they want to move away from the shaky grounds..

I'd say money is the only reason AMA making it look like they're fighting for their members while they're trying to re-package what's left to make them it look good and most importantly keep it as expensive as possible.

I personally dropped my AMA membership starting 2015 as I do not see anything they do benefits the hobby. Nothing that's coming from AMA will help newcomers. Clubs are more than capable of teaching or choosing the right field and operation insurance. I do not need an old fart to tell me how to teach flying or help me buy a flying field insurance. I've got almost twice better rate than through AMA.

If anyone wants details on what AMA does and how they do it as opposed to how it could be done - I have details. After all AMA is a non-profit organization.

It turns-out a hobbyist does more than AMA by challenging FAA in court. Think again - why do we need an AMA at all?

Comment by BacklashRC on January 11, 2016 at 1:35pm

"The federal registration box requiring agreement to only fly under 400 feet applies to individuals who are not operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization."

The AMA is incorrect.  The last page of the registration process specifically states: "To operate as a hobbyist, you must operate in accordance to the safety guidance you have acknowledged AND (emphasis mine) in accordance with a community based set of safety guidance."

That seems pretty clear.  The operator must operate in accordance with the guidelines AND in accordance with CBO safety rules.  If this is not the case, we need to have it in writing from the FAA rather than from the AMA who has been wrong, and ill advised by the FAA in the recent past.

"We have been in discussions with the FAA about this point and the agency has indicted that it will be updating its website in the next week to make clear that this altitude restriction does not apply to AMA members."

This line also does not make sense.  Section 336 only states that the operator must operate under the guidelines of a CBO.  It does not state that the pilot must be a member of the CBO.  For the AMA to say that the altitude restriction does not apply to AMA members, is to say that the AMA does not understand the wording of Section 336.  What they should say is that "Any UAV pilot operating under the AMA safety guidelines concerning altitude restrictions are exempt from the registration restriction, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THAT PERSON IS A MEMBER OF THE AMA OR NOT!"

Section 336 does not call for membership, only operation in accordance with CBO guidelines.  Either the AMA is being disingenuous to increase membership roles, or they are unaware of their mistake.

Comment by DG on January 11, 2016 at 5:03pm

Does AMA have relatives on the FAA board or what? They seem delusional. This whole thing is turning into 'Who's on First'.


T3
Comment by healthyfatboy on January 11, 2016 at 8:26pm

The response seems kind of ridiculous by the AMA but the FAA had to do something, even though it is pretty silly.

The argument that we've gone 50 years without an incident seems okay but you also have to remember there was much less air traffic, both manned aircraft but even less r/c aircraft flying over those 50 years. The hobby planes are now so inexpensive and easy to fly that there are so many more flying now than there were in the past. Not only that, because they're easier to fly, you have a bunch of people who shouldn't fly who are able to now.

The 700+ incidents are definitely bogus. I've gone through many of those and it's just the FAA and media hyping things up.

I'm not completely against registration but the way it was done was the easy way out with no effort from the FAA's side. Most of the ones they would potentially consider as "dangerous" are either larger or autonomous and use a companion phone/tablet or a computer for setup purposes or during use. The registration process would have made more sense to tie it to the vehicle itself. It would require buy in from manufacturers as well but you could make it more high tech.

  • User buys their UAV
  • During setup, the phone/computer goes out and gets a registration key from the FAA
  • Make the registration key a requirement for the flight controller to be able to fly
  • Check for proper registration key before flight
  • When the user sells the UAV, de-register the key with the FAA unless they want the next owner to be able to fly with another person's key

Yes, it's still a registration that I'm not necessarily a fan of but at least it wouldn't be a blanket registration and would be tied to the more autonomous vehicles out there that have potential for nefarious use. Yes, you can still fly something that doesn't have a full blown FC with FPV and such but that requires at least a little more skill and when you require a little more skill, at least it weeds out a lot of the crazy ones out there.

Comment by Sport Pilot on January 11, 2016 at 9:45pm
It's disappointing the AMA pretty much gave in to the FAA. Raising the fee to 75.00 certainly didn't get the members much. Epic fail.
Comment by Mark on January 12, 2016 at 1:22am

I just checked - AMA Membership now is $75 for open membership.

I guess they expect many members to drop and need to cover the losses. Any thoughts why do we need AMA Membership when it will be legal to fly with FAA Registration?

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