3D Robotics


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.

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  • I was hoping FAA would clarify their position on using model aircraft for research (environmental, biological, geological etc). Everyone involved in such pursuits seems to have a different opinion as to what the FAA rules are. I suspect the FAA considers research use to be commercial use but it isn't really clear.

    I will join the rest of you in being most disappointed at the FAA's continued overreach of authority, and failure to regulate reasonably.

  • Please consider signing the FPV America petition to the FAA at change.org. http://chn.ge/1lO1ngB

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I am currently on the Advisory Board of FPV America, as an unpaid consultant.

  • The FAA primary concern is keeping ALL aircraft separated.  That is why airspace designations exist, thats why there is radar coverage and air traffic controllers, that is why there is in cockpit technology to keep aircraft apart in the air, that is why there are equipment requirements for transponders.  There is no way to guarantee separation of "drones" and any other type of aircraft.  Just look at the videos of people breaking not only hobby guidelines, but rules for full size aircraft at the same time.  The other big issue is all drones are for the time being at least treated as the same.  A full size reaper drone has capabilities and safety issues that hobby size or smaller drones don't.  Even now when the government is using their drones in US airspace, it is closed to all other aircraft.  That is the only way to guarantee separation in the eyes of the FAA.  It is clear that the morons who cannot police themselves are what the rules are going to be aimed at.

  • I only recently purchased FPV goggles and a monitor. Personally I like the monitor better for the same reasons the FAA doesn't like goggles, awareness of surroundings. But something I get even more enjoyment out of is letting my 8 year old son wear the goggles and hear him say whoa this is cool. Flying with goggles scares the crap out of me. I only use them on my boat (2D).
  •  So a fixed wing aircraft that is flown at an rc airshow that pays its performers is an illegal activity now!?  That is completely retarded. But I can get a ultralight and fly it all over the place with not training or licensing. 

  • It appears that none of these regulators have flown a drone.

    ...aircraft must be “flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft,”... 

    Uuhhh, this assures that the flight is safe? It assures that the pilot will maintain orientation at all times?

    VFR (Visual Flight Rules) of private aviation, sorry any manned aviation, requires that the pilot has a continuous view of his surrounding within 1 nautical mile (special VFR). One has a much better perspective from the cockpit. A drawback of FPV is that the camara points forward, and has a limited field of view. But rules would be much better designed and safer, to demand a fuller range of vision from the cockpit, than limiting the pilot to a remote view from 100 meters or more away.

    They are obviously dedicated to "other concerns", really unrelated to safety, Keep us below 400 ft. away from airports, or crowds, no problem, but don't feed us the bull that it's safer to fly an airplane 300 ft away than to have a live view from the cockpit.


  • Safe growth of the UAS industry? By outright banning commercial use until  - what - 2020?

    Talk about missing the boat. And the 16 boats before it.

    The goggles rule is a total crock. I've had more crashes (safe ones!) LoS than FPV. FPV is probably *safer* than LoS for a lot of applications.

  • UAVStuff- I agree with you completely. And I expect the FAA will create rules that support the safe growth of the UAS industry. They are behind the curve -- big time right now. But it's always safety first, as it should be. My guess is that the FAA is in total reaction mode, currently. This new FPV goggles rule is needed as the number of hobby drones is growing exponentially, causing a growing danger to aviation. It's unfortunate, since the vast majority of us fly our aircraft safely. But a few bad apples are making new rules necessary. I'm envisioning tens of thousands of new hobby drone pilots joining the hobby this holiday season. The FAA likely sees the same possibility. 

    If you think these new FAA rule proposals are bad now, imagine what will happen if there's an actual collision between a hobby drone and a real aircraft. The probability of that occurring grows every day. Let's hope it doesn't happen. Because if it does, the congress will act quickly and in ways we _really_ won't be happy about. So the way I see it, this FAA proposal is good and is needed to reduce the chances of disaster. 

  • They still have no congressional approval to make laws or rules.  They are still blowing smoke up people's butts.  I have yet to find a single person to complain about my drones.  I just finished taking pictures of the Chicago White Sox Stadium in Chicago and the cops loved it.  I have been taking pictures since 2006 without incident or an FAA compaint.  I have the local tower on speed dial and been giving speeches with FAA in attendance since 2008.  It is few people trying to exercise "control" over something that they can not get a handle in since there are 100's of thousands if not millions of users in the US already.


  • Philip- I think many of us agree regulation is very important moving forward.  I cringe at each new Phantom operator I see speeding around over city streets or crowded events.  But regulation and common sense are not mutually exclusive... The FAA needs to start making rules that supports the safe growth of the UAS industry, not entirely suppresses it. 

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