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 just noticed that this is not actually a Law so you are really not doing anything illegal. Local cops are not going any interest since you are technically not doing anything illegal.


    What’s the penalty for violating a reg.? That’s why most of us hate law and lawyers – it’s all mumbo-jumbo.




  • Monocular company stock ownership by key FAA officials? Every reg has loopholes and technology will render the FAA increasingly irrelevant. Gov. Agencies don't like to be irrelevant. I agree with the above statements, FAA, lead, follow, or get out of the way!
  • On a side note... It seems that the FAA is CLEARLY determined to slow down commercial operation of drones, even in instances where the safety risk would be negligible and authorized for hobby purposes.

    My impression is that there are some powerful interests at play here. Anyone else think that the FAA's strings could being pulled by the manned aviation industry looking to delay the competition of small unmanned aircraft? Could Boing, Northrop Grumman and their peers be pulling the strings here to hold their ground? 

  • The problem it’s a stupid and unenforceable rule. I could fly over a field and give free advice and that would be legal. A farmer could look over his neighbor’s field and give free advice and that would be legal. The FAA and Congress really need to come up with something that’s reasonable.

    I assume the purpose of all these rules is safety. But I don’t see how the current rules make it safer. Some of the modelers flying in the city are far more dangerous that farmers way out in the middle of a cornfield.

  • Moderator

    There is nothing confusing, if a farmer is looking at plants that he is going to sell and making decisions based on data gathered then its commercial gain. FPV has nothing to do with it.

  • I didn’t real all the comments but it looks like it’s ok for farmers to survey their field using the Mission Planner and GPS navigation. They just can’t use FPV to control the aircraft because that might be unsafe?

    There are many farmers in this area and they are always asking about my airplanes and quads. Ever changing rules like that are very confusion for them . Way out in farming country I really don’t see how the FAA is going to be able to advise farmers or enforce rules that keep changing?





  • "One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws"

  • Lets hope they actually take notice of the "comments" that get submitted.

  • Moderator

    The FAA did not go to the big meeting in Paris in 2009 I think it was that really accelerated other countries efforts. They have been behind the curve since 2006/7 when Australia and the UK started. The AMA clamored for 336 because it protected things like jet flying and other established activities. It also put them in the paying seats if all RC was only going to be permitted under a CBO. They are not part of the NPRM.

    I bet the AMA did not expect to see their rules being questioned by the FAA 

    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.

    I am going to bang on about the UK, look to Simon Dale he established a working relationship with the CAA and you can now legally fly upto 1000' FPV with more things in the pipeline. Nobody in the USA is talking nicely to the FAA for FPV so what sort of rules can you expect!

    Get your STANAG manuals ready if you want to play in the future. (I truly hope I am wrong)

  • The FAA may see themselves as being forced to tightly restrict drones right now, since hobby drone sales a rising so quickly. This would give them the ability to open up the rules later for commercial drones, once things are under better/safer control. The commercial drone industry will act responsibly, and follow any newly created regulations, since their licensing and business opportunities will depend on it. It's irresponsible hobbyists that are creating a real and present danger to aviation right now. The FAA has to do something about it, since safety is their first responsibility. 

    Just a guess. But it seems to some extent that the reality of the growing danger is forcing their responses. They need some time to establish a sensible set of regulations. But right now, they just can't ignore the growing risks. They're in a tough spot that they're not really prepared to deal with. And the issues are complex. I don't envy them. But it seems right that aviation safety should come first. 

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