Signed at the AMA Expo, Ontario California. DTV is there and will report back!

Memorandum of Understanding between Academy of Model Aeronautics and Federal Aviation Administration

Concerning Operation of Model Aircraft In the National Airspace System


This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) establishes a cooperative working relationship between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).


AMA is a nationally recognized, non-profit membership organization that was established in 1936. The organization has provided leadership for an expansive aero-modeling community throughout the United States and its territories. Over time, AMA has developed and maintained a National Model Aircraft Safety Code, which provides guidelines for the safe
operation of model aircraft.

Until 1981, there were no federal guidelines or directives for model aircraft operations. In June of that year, the FAA published an Advisory Circular (AC 91-57) titled “Model Aircraft Operating Standards.” Although not directive in nature, AC 91-57 provided general guidance for the operation of model aircraft.

On February 17, 2012, President Obama signed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) (Pub.L.112-95) into law. Within this Act, a special provision for model aircraft was enacted. Section 336 of the FMRA provides a definition of the term “model aircraft”, requirements for operating model aircraft, and reinforces the authority that the FAA possesses to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft in an unsafe manner. In addition, section 106 and 40103 of Title 49, United States Code provides the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration to prescribe aviation standards and regulate aviation operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).

In addition, in the FMRA, Congress acknowledged the efficacy of community-based safety programming, and specified that if a model aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization, the FAA may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding that model aircraft.

This MOU outlines the relationship that will be maintained between the FAA and the AMA.

The AMA and the FAA intend to work together by openly communicating any questions and needs as they arise. Technology and operating environments are always changing, and thus establishing an understanding of the nature of the cooperative working relationship between the two organizations is critical to meet the mission needs of the FAA and the AMA.


The Academy of Model Aeronautics agrees to:

 Develop, establish, and maintain a comprehensive safety program to educate and direct its members in how to safely operate model aircraft in the NAS.

 Develop, maintain, and enact appropriate guidelines, procedures, and operating standards for its members responsive to the minimum safety criteria established in PL112-95 and implement the AMA Safety Program to include the PL 112-95 Enactment Standards.

 Maintain the AMA Safety Program by regularly reviewing relevant safety data and updating the program to address any issues that are brought to light by the data.

 Continue to establish appropriate safety guidelines for emergent technologies and novel facets of aero-modeling activity.

 Provide the FAA with an updated copy of the AMA Safety Program whenever substantive changes are made, or upon request.

 Foster a positive and cooperative environment within the aero-modeling community toward the FAA, its employees, and its regulatory structure.

 Serve as a conduit between the aero-modeling community at-large, the hobby industry, and the FAA in order to provide relevant and time-critical aviation safety information to all parties.

 Bring issues and questions to the FAA when matters arise related to model aircraft that could impact the safety of the NAS.

 Maintain Safety Programming documentation on the public section of the AMA website in order to promote safety throughout the entire aero-modeling community, even among non-AMA members.

The Federal Aviation Administration agrees to:

 Review AMA’s Safety Program and advise the Academy on safety issues related to aero-modeling operations within the NAS.

 Educate and inform appropriate FAA field personnel regarding the most current aeromodeling policies, procedures, and operating standards.

 Address model aviation safety and operational issues through the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, AFS-80. This office will act as a conduit to other areas of the FAA in order to resolve and address matters of mutual concern and interest.

 Foster a positive and cooperative environment towards model aviation within the agency’s national, regional, district, and local offices.

 Maintain an open line of communication with the AMA to exchange information and provide relevant and/or time critical notices regarding aviation safety and airspace operations.

 Cooperate with the AMA in dealing with and resolving issues of concern to either or both parties.

Effective Dates

It is understood and agreed by the undersigned that the intent of this MOU is to state shared goals and to establish and maintain cooperation toward meeting these shared goals. This MOU does not create any binding obligation on either party. Each party agrees to conduct its representative activities in a coordinated and mutually beneficial manner. The FAA and the AMA will evaluate their respective participation with the terms of this agreement periodically and communicate any issues with the term as soon as they arise.

This MOU will be in effect at the time of the signing and may be terminated at any time by either of the signing authorities or their successors. One party or the other must serve the notice of the termination at least ninety (90) days prior to the effective date of that termination, or in the case of mutual consent, with no prior notice requirement.

Views: 1858

Comment by Gary McCray on January 11, 2014 at 2:49pm

At least it's something , sort of an agreement to try agreeing to something at some point in the future.

And I sort of agree with Monroe above,.

Basically if we don't start tooting our own horn with the FAA, we probably ought to start doing so with the AMA because at least the FAA acknowledges their existence and to some degree their relevance.

Comment by Adam Erickson on January 11, 2014 at 3:15pm

I think this is great. It means that the FAA is working to establish space in their institution for model aircraft while delegating some of the authority to an existing trusted body. An MOU is a sign of increasing collaboration that should benefit us.

Comment by Michael Pursifull on January 11, 2014 at 4:25pm

The Drone User Group Network is also a "nationwide community-based organization. 

Comment by Michael Pursifull on January 11, 2014 at 4:46pm

Talk to them. They are friends. And friendly.

Comment by Thomas J Coyle III on January 11, 2014 at 5:15pm


I am an AMA member and to me the most important use of membership funds is the liability insurance provide by the AMA to its members as a part of the membership.

Many UAS operators do not realize that they can be liable for property and personal damage caused by a drone crash. In many cases their automobile or home owner liability insurance coverage does not cover this kind of damage and they could be out of pocket for a large sum if they are sued. This is something to think about when flying a UAS in the public domain.


TCIII ArduRover2 Developer

Comment by Gary McCray on January 11, 2014 at 5:51pm

An important consideration of the AMA is that they are not currently acting as a regulatory agency in the sense that they will penalize you for acting outside their rule structure.

The insurance (private carrier) may or may not cover you when flying at a specific site, but the AMA itself generally does not penalize you for flying at parks with appropriate models that are not AMA specific flying sites.

As such for the most part their rules are advisory and cautionary rather than edicts that if ignored will cause your expulsion from the club.

There are exceptions and some certifiably unsafe fliers have been so expelled, but that is extremely rare.

This more Laissez Faire approach is probably to our benefit, because it still puts the individual responsible in charge of determining to their own satisfaction that their undertaking can be done in a safe and reasonable manner (and ostensibly whether the insurance company is liable to throw them under the bus or not.)

I belong to the local Fort Bragg AMA and we have quite a nice field and a number of people who fly regularly.

Our autonomous multicopters are met with a small amount of skepticizm but it is more a why would you want to be doing that when you could actually be flying.

And as long as we fly where we are supposed to and don't violate the fields safety rules we are certainly welcome and even making a few converts who are at least adding multicopters and autopiloted fixed wings to their collection.

In fact, from their publications, the AMA main group seems to have become more tolerant of our endeavors and less fearful that we are going to ruin it for everybody. 

The AMA magazine recently had quite a positive article on multicopters with autopilots and FPV and for them that is a huge step.

Comment by Graham Harding on January 11, 2014 at 5:55pm

The MOU between the FAA and the AMA can be terminated according to the pre-defined procedure written in the MOU, it does not imply individual flying groups can be dumped at all. The way things are going at the moment it will be the hobby drone pilots that will get themselves excluded from the NAS.

Chris, it may be worthwhile staring a topic giving forum members the opportunity to discuss where the community is heading, form a committee, legal help, getting representation on the AMA etc, I believe it would be a positive step. I also believe that DIY Drones need to be very safety conscious with regards to what content is posted here, I have no doubt the FAA and AMA visit here on a regular basis, so we need to be diligent that they are seeing what they want to see, and not what we find as acceptable content.

Here in Australia it's fairly cut and dried where we stand. if you don't have an UAV Controllers Certificate working for a person or entity that has an  Operators Certificate, you cannot conduct air operations, this includes commercial tasks (hire and reward), demonstrations, training, R&D, flying for company internal purposes, etc.

At this stage as an hobbyist flying my Hex I have 2 options, fly at the club I belong to which being a Member of the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia includes a 3rd party insurance cover of AUD$5,000,000.00.

Or I can fly at the local park and be held accountable for my actions if things go pear shape, end up in jail, or lose everything I own by being sued, or both. It's my choice.

The two options above will never change, but it seems to me sometimes the some drone pilots want special consideration as to where they can fly and what they can do, and I don't believe that the FAA will ever allow that to happen as they have no control over the operators proficiency, the airworthiness of the UAV, maintenance or safety planning to name a few.

That's my 10c worth.

Comment by Gary McCray on January 11, 2014 at 6:43pm

There is also quite an elephant in the room here.

In fact, Multicopters are becoming the hottest selling thing since sliced bread.

In sizes from the hummingbird sized Estes (Hubsan) Nano ProtoX to the DJI Phantom, they are multiplying like flies.

Unquestionably this can either be a good thing or a bad thing.

Because a lot of neophytes are buying them and flying them with no reasonable caution at all, blood is bound to be let at regular intervals.

But their free (and pretty much unstoppable) proliferation also provides some assurance that they won't simply all be blanket "outlawed" rather that simple guidelines and laws will be enacted to protect the general public from their abuses.

Reason would say that separate treatment should be provided for separate weight, size and hazard levels.

The little microcopters are intrisically a whole lot safer than a DJI Phantom, let alone a full camera platform Octo.

I can only hope that reason and balance prevail.

Something we do not see too much of in our government or our business these days.

Comment by Greg Fletcher on January 11, 2014 at 9:52pm

What I read from this is go by the AMA rules or you are not a model aircraft and subject to FAA regulations. They can get you with Careless or reckless operation like they did with Trappy.

The AMA has recently issued new rules for FPV and autopilot operations. The highlights are:

1. VLOS only. You must be able to fly manually VLOS(visual line of sight).

2. Less than 15 lbs.(6.8 Kg) and max speed of 70 mph.

3. FPV needs a qualified observer that can take over visually. Buddy box for novice FPV'ers.

4. Autopilots, even WP navigation is allowed,1-3 also apply.

5. Failsafes need to be set up.

6. New or repaired planes must be flown and trimmed manually before using auto modes.




Comment by Gary McCray on January 11, 2014 at 10:21pm


The AMA does not define model aircraft.

Any legal body can charge you with Careless or Reckless endangerment for any cause it deems appropriate. whether you are flying any kind of plane, driving a car, motorcycle or bicycle or walking down the street.

AMA regulations are not law they are the rules their club members are expected to abide by at their fields and at their events and in order to secure coverage by their insurer.

The FAA may secure laws that mirror these AMA regulations, but at this time that is not yet an issue.


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