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.

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Moderator

    "Receiving money for demonstrating aerobatics with a model aircraft."

    It seems this would be sponsored flyers at a flying event?

    diydrones TOS prevent discussion of politics or I would have a lot to say about this! :(

  • “We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground"

    And as we all know its safe if you're having fun, but very very dangerous if you accept money for it.
  • I can't believe they're targeting commercial farmers.  What could possibly be dangerous about flying a UAV over your own, completely uninhabited land?  Nothing!  Absolutely nothing.  Thankfully though, they're generous enough to let the "personal enjoyment" farmers keep flying.  What a joke.  

    At least they haven't gotten their act together and written any actual legislation so we can all carry on.  I'll pay attention when theres a law to follow.

  • So... if you have some of the nose of the aircraft visible in the FPV camera, then as the operator, you can see the aircraft all the time...  :-)

  • Able to view and In view are different things.  Just like "line of sight" is different than "in sight."  I can have line of sight with the model at all times, and not even see it at all.  If their intent is to ban goggles and FPV that is poor wording to choose.  An unboosted radio is pretty much line of sight.  So as long as my off the shelf radio has enough RSSI to control it, the model is in line of sight.

  • I am looking around for the FAA's definition of "R/C Airplane Operator".  AMA requires an FPV operator to be on a buddy-box with the person on the instructor as being the primary operator (PIC) and maintain visual contact.  There is potential for the FAA to regulate this in the same way.  

    It's not uncool to be on a buddy box when FPV-ing.  It's safe.

  • I think I have some Fatshark goggles and a head-tracker for sale.

  • The automobile is heavily regulated for safety, thankfully. But I'm not interested in arguing.

    Just leave it to say that these discussions about the government regulation of drones are just warming up. It's gonna get very 'interesting'. 

  • That would likely be a stretch if you take the words from the document literally, as intended: 

    ...aircraft must be “flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft,”... the operator must be able to view the aircraft at all times.
  • A couple of interesting points:

    • It would appear that hobby shops and model aircraft manufacturers now require a COA if they want anyone that works for them to fly anything for work purposes. This is contrary to the previous guidance that exempted commercial stuff in direct support of the hobby industry - how does someone like Horizon Hobby test their stuff now?
    • I thought the FAA had previously stated that operating over your own farm was OK?
    • The point with FPV goggles is not that you need to keep the aircraft in sight (although you really shoudln't be flying behind trees anyway), but more that you have awareness of the airspace in which you're flying.  Shouldn't be a problem if you're not flying high or near airports, but even at 400ft in certain areas you may come across other aircraft.
This reply was deleted.