Gov. Relations Blog – AMA Officers, Clubs and Members updating and sharing the latest Federal, State and Local government UAS regulatory news pertaining to AMA aeromodeling.

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  • 28 Mar 2018 9:46 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    We wanted to share with you a bit of what the AMA Government Affairs team has been up to over the past few weeks, including recent outreach and at the federal, state and local level to advocate for and protect our hobby.


    Federal Government Relations

    This month, our team attended several meetings with legislators to help Congress strengthen and protect the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. On March 23, President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill into law, which includes a six-month extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authorization. This extension provides vital continuity for the aviation community, including those who fly with AMA. We continue to work with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill that will strengthen the Special Rule and affirm the role of community-based organizations.


    State and Local Government Relations

    At the local level, AMA continues to engage with legislators on 17 problematic bills in various states. Over the past few months, we have helped various local communities resolve legislative issues:

    • New York: We have contacted council members in Nichols, NY to voice AMA’s opposition regarding a restrictive ordinance.
    • California: The team has been particularly active in California, reaching out to community leaders in Lodi and Sausalito to offer guidance and resources on a proposed ordinance.
    • New Jersey: AMA has contacted legislators in opposition to several proposed local bills.

    Other Recent Activities

    In February, members of AMA’s Government Affairs Team attended AMA Expo East in Secaucus, New Jersey and shared information with AMA members on flying model aircraft safely, developing flying sites and the latest on federal, state and local regulations.

    In March, the FAA held its 3rd annual UAS Symposium at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.  While there, the team engaged with industry stakeholders regarding the latest industry developments, regulations and collaborated on how to safely integrate UAS into our nation’s airspace.


    In addition, the AMA Government Affairs team attended the Aerospace and Aviation Days in Sacramento, California to promote the model aviation hobby to the public and state legislators.

    For the most current information on all of our government advocacy work, please visit our website www.modelaircraft.org/gov


    As always, we thank you for all you do to support our longstanding hobby, and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2018.


    Sincerely,
    AMA Government Affairs Team



  • 27 Jan 2018 3:25 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Federal Registration

    Last month, we shared new information about the FAA’s UAS registration requirement, which Congress has reinstated.

    On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed legislation that will reverse the earlier court ruling in the John Taylor case and restore the FAA’s UAS registration requirement, including for AMA members. 

    AMA believes that registration makes sense at some level, but has pushed for a more reasonable threshold. While we address these issues, members will be legally required to comply with the FAA registration requirement. 

    Following are some frequently asked questions. Answers are based on the information available at time of press and are subject to change. 


    Q: If I already registered, do I have register again?
    A: You will not have to register again since this bill simply reverses the John Taylor case. We will share more as details emerge.

    Q: Do I need to register again if I requested a refund and asked to be removed from the registration list?
    A: You will need to re-register only if you received FAA confirmation that your request to be removed the database was honored.

    Q: I did not request a refund/removal from registration database, will my registration number and expiration date stay the same?
    A: Yes, your registration number and expiration date will remain the same unless you requested that the FAA remove your information from the database, and received FAA conformation of this removal. 

    Q: How do I register?
    A: You can register at https://registermyuas.faa.gov. If you need assistance, please call 877 396 4636. 

    Q: Do I have to register every aircraft?
    A: You only need to register your name, physical address, and email address once. You will receive a single FAA registration number which is to be placed inside all of your aircraft along with your AMA number. 

    Q: Do only drones and multirotor operators need to register?
    A: Anyone who flies a model that can freely navigate in the air and uses a remote control device (e.g. RC transmitter) is required to register. This includes drones, traditional fixed wing model aircraft, model helicopters, and other remote controlled model aircraft. If you exclusively fly models under .55 pounds, indoors, control line, or free flight models - you do not need to register. 


    Q: Do I need to list both my AMA number and my federal registration number on my aircraft?
    A: Yes, you need to list both your AMA number and Federal registration number on your aircraft. We are advocating to allow members to use their AMA numbers. We believe an AMA membership already meets the intent of registration, but at this time place both numbers on your aircraft. 

    Q: How does UAS registration affect my membership? 
    A: AMA club or member benefits are not contingent on UAS registration. We encourage all members to follow Federal regulations, but we are not policing UAS registration. 


    Q: Should clubs, contest directors, or event leaders require all pilots be registered?
    A: No, we are not asking our clubs or contest directors to police UAS Registration. That decision is up to each individual club and event leader. 


    Q: I am an Affiliate Member, do not live in the US, or I am not a US Citizen. How do I register?
    A:Everyone, including foreign nationals and tourists, who operate a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes outdoors in the U.S. must use the FAA’s online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive the same registration certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents. However, this certificate will function as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US. 


    Visiting pilots can only use a computer with a United States IP address to register. When arriving in the states, pilots can register using a US computer at a hotel, guest home, or even at AMA HQ. For assistance you can call 877 396 4636 or email FAAHotline@faa.gov

    Q: I only fly CL, FF, or indoors - do I need to register?
    A: No. If you exclusively fly indoors, FF, or CL 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: Does my large model aircraft require an N number?
    A: AMA representatives, including AMA’s legal counsel, met with the FAA on January 15, 2016, and this was one of the many questions that were raised. The FAA representatives confirmed that AMA members, operating models under the Large Model Airplane Program, should not have to apply for an N number. 

    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 guidelines listed on the FAA UAS website do not negate the modeling activities and related safety procedures established in AMA's community-based safety program. 


    Q: What happens if I don’t register?
    A: According to the FAA, failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. 

    Q: Can I register by paper?
    A: We understand there are AMA members who do not have a computer. The FAA offers a paper application, which currently is only available at local FAA Flight Standards Ditrict Offices (FSDO), but this process can take many months. If a member does not have a computer, we encourage them to have a club or family member help them register. 


    Q: I do not want to give my credit card information over the internet or have a computer? What should I do?
    A: As for members who cannot or do not want to submit credit card information online, the FAA has agreed to accept gift credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard. You can purchase these gift cards, which closely resemble a credit card, through many retailers.

    Q: Is my registration information publicly available?
    A: No. At this time, the registration database is not searchable.


  • 10 Jan 2018 3:48 PM | Andrew (Administrator)


    Fourth Quarter 2017 Government Relations Update

    As the New Year begins, the AMA Government Relations team would like to take a moment to update you on our work during the last few months of 2017 to represent and protect our hobby at the federal, local and state level.


    Federal Government Relations


    Over the past few months, the team made multiple trips to Washington, D.C. for meetings with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as lawmakers on Capitol Hill, about the importance of preserving Section 336, also known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. These meetings included discussions with the FAA on VIP NOTAM/Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) waivers, as well as the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) on the remote identification and tracking of UAS. In addition, the team met with the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) to discuss recommendations for state and local governments on safely incorporating UAS into our nation’s airspace.


    Importantly, AMA also participated in Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) meetings, a public-private committee committed to ensuring the safe operation of UAS. We also helped lead the Drone Sightings Working Group within this committee, which recently released a final report on the FAA’s drone sightings data earlier this month. This report found that only a small percentage of pilot reports of drones pose a safety risk while the vast majority are simply sightings. These findings are consistent with AMA’s own analysis of the FAA’s drone data.


    In addition, the team attended the launch of a new White House pilot program to integrate UAS into the airspace. This program will include five to twelve local communities and organizations to test a new drone program. AMA is applying to participate in the program, which will help local authorities and the UAS industry coordinate with the FAA and keep our skies safe for all.


    Finally, an op-ed by Rich Hanson was published in The Hill in early January, which discusses the difference between pilots flying under Section 336 and Part 107. The piece encourages Congress to help recreational drone pilots understand how to comply with Part 107 and to task the FAA with increasing enforcement to help hold Part 107 violators accountable for their actions.


    State and Local Government Relations


    At the local level, we continued to monitor state and local legislation that could negatively affect our hobby. We worked with local lawmakers throughout Kansas, North Carolina, Washington, Missouri and California to combat potentially harmful legislation. Opinion pieces from local AMA members were also published in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman in Alaska, as well as the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska.


    Lastly, the team presented or participated at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, California, the National League of Cities Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Air Traffic Controllers Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Conference & Exposition in Los Angeles, California.

    AMA is successful because of members like you! As always, thank you for you all you’ve done advocate for our hobby in 2017. We look forward to a successful 2018.



  • 02 Jan 2018 4:30 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers

    We would like to share with you a new op-ed by AMA president Rich Hanson, which was published in The Hill newspaper: “Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers”.


    The Hill is a news outlet in Washington, D.C. that many members of Congress, and their staff, read on a regular basis. This article, which you can read in full below, is just one part of our ongoing efforts to protect the hobby of flying model aircraft.


    Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers

    BY RICH HANSON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/02/18 03:00 PM 


    There is a lot of misinformation, and lack of information, surrounding the policies that govern recreational drones. Even those who work on drone policy inaccurately characterize provisions allowing for recreational use of drones, Part 107 and Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. This mischaracterization branding these provisions as a “get out of jail free” card for anyone who wants to fly drones or model aircraft, as a recent opinion piece in The Hill argued. This couldn’t be further from the truth.


    I agree with the Commercial Drone Alliance that drones have significant potential to support public officials and help small businesses grow. However, critics like the alliance completely mischaracterize the challenge of regulating recreational drones.


    Let me be clear — if you are flying drones for recreational purposes today, you must be operating within an established safety program, and there are two ways of doing so. By default, recreational pilots are to fly under the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rule, known as Part 107.

    The only other way to operate is to fully comply with the criteria of Section 336 (Part 101) and fly within the programming of a community-based organization. Federal regulations require that recreational drone flyers must be educated and operate under one of these two options.


    The problem is that many people don’t understand this.

    According to the current laws, recreational drone pilots are only eligible to fly under Section 336 if they fly in accordance with the safety guidelines and within the safety programming of a community-based organization, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics. By our estimate, only about 200,000 people fall into this category, most of them are academy members.


    To put this in perspective, according to the FAA, around 900,000 recreational users have registered their drones with the agency so far. The math from here is easy — about 200,000 people fly under Section 336 and the remaining 700,000 are required to operate under Part 107. Those that aren’t flying under Part 107 are in violation 14 CFR § 107.12, the requirement for a remote pilot certificate.


    The truth is Section 336 is not to blame for rogue flyers. Those people are Part 107 violators — and should be treated as such.


    If Congress wants to increase the safety of our skies, they should help recreational drone pilots understand that they need to comply with Part 107. Congress should also task the FAA with increasing enforcement so that those who violate Part 107 are held accountable for their actions.

    Many recreational drone pilots already know when, where and how to fly safely, and they comply with the law. Many pilots follow rigorous safety guidelines and our members are afforded a $2.5 million-dollar liability insurance policy, establishing financial responsibility.


    Pilots following the rules are not the problem, but we acknowledge that some tweaks to Section 336 may be necessary to clarify who the provision does and does not cover. We are willing to work with Congress and the UAS industry to ensure that those that fly under Section 336 are educated, trained and managed by an established community-based organization — and that everyone else operates under Part 107.


    Rogue flyers are Part 107 violators. We must, first and foremost, make clear the need to follow Part 107 if not operating within a community-based organization. And when someone violates Part 107, he or she needs to be held accountable. Unfounded statements asking to revoke the Special Rule only harm a community of responsible model aviation hobbyists and will do nothing to curb the 700,000 rogue drone pilots.


    Interest in drones has soared this year and shows no signs of slowing down. As it currently stands, the FAA is under-resourced to handle the growing surge in commercial drones, Part 107 waiver requests and future rulemakings. That’s why public-private partnerships with experienced community-based organization s such as Academy of Model Aeronautics can be helpful in alleviating the strain on the FAA and enhance safety.


    In the next FAA reauthorization bill, Congress should continue to allow organizations such as AMA to manage its members as part of the recreational community, preserving the option to fly safely and responsibly under our guidelines, oversight and eighty years of experience.

    Rich Hanson is the President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.


  • 20 Dec 2017 3:00 PM | Andrew (Administrator)


    What Does Remote ID and Tracking Mean For Our Members?


    As you may be aware, AMA participated in the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) advisory panel, which made recommendations to the agency on creating standards for remote identification and tracking unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The ARC identified technologies to allow law enforcement, homeland defense, national security and air traffic control communities to remotely track and identify UAS in the airspace. Today, the FAA released the recommendations the panel provided to the agency.


    One recommendation made by the panel requires that remote ID and tracking should only apply to aircraft that have the capability to fly autonomously, by navigating between more than one point without active control of the pilot, or flying beyond 400 feet using a real-time sensor or camera. This means that model aircraft not capable of autonomous or long-range operations do not have to comply with remote ID and tracking.


    An alternative recommendation requires all UAS to comply with remote ID and tracking with only a few exemptions. These exemptions include UAS for law enforcement or under air traffic control, models not capable of flying beyond 400 feet (such as toys) and models waived or exempted by the FAA or a community-based organization like the AMA.


    AMA believes remote identification and tracking for certain UAS makes sense at some level, depending on the UAS sophistication and capability. Throughout the numerous panel meetings and conversations that led to the advisory panel’s recommendations, AMA continuously advocated for a common-sense approach to remote identification and tracking that doesn’t harm our hobby or low-risk operations.


    Most importantly, we strongly believe that we must continue educating all UAS pilots, which is what truly equips hobbyists and commercial operators to fly responsibly.


  • 08 Nov 2017 7:54 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    It is very likely Congress will pass and the President will sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act that will reverse the John Taylor case. This bill will again require that model aviation pilots, including AMA members, to register and label their aircraft with the FAA. Members who fly exclusively indoors, CL, FF, and/or models under .55 pounds will not be required to register. If a member previously registered with the FAA, they are not required to register again. Congress is hoping to hand this bill to the President for a signature before Thanksgiving.

        AMA believes registration makes sense at some level, but maintains that the criteria and thresholds needs revised. We also are advocating that members should be able to use their AMA number/membership as an alternative to the registration requirement. With that being said, we ask members to comply with the FAA registration rule once it is in effect while we work through these issues.


  • 05 Oct 2017 1:34 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    AMA’S ANALYSIS ALSO FINDS THAT SOME SIGHTINGS APPEAR TO BE USERS FLYING APPROPRIATELY; “DRONE” CONTINUES TO BE A CATCH-ALL TERM FOR ANY OBJECT IN THE SKY


    A new analysis released today by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) reviews the 1,270 new unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) sightings reported by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year. AMA’s analysis finds that the vast majority of these sightings are just that – sightings. Importantly, when releasing the latest data, the FAA specifically stated that no collision between civilian aircraft and a civilian drone operator has been confirmed.


    “In comparison to the growing number of drone sales and operators, the total number of UAS reports in the FAA’s data is just a small fraction,” said Rich Hanson, President of AMA. “Safety has always been our number one priority. That’s why we’re encouraged to see that most of the reports are mere drone sightings and do not appear to pose serious safety risks.”


    While the number of reports included in the FAA’s latest data set increased, it covered a longer time period and occurred within the context of an increase in the number of people flying UAS. According to the Consumer Technology Association, drone sales reached 700,000 units in 2015 and 2.4 million units in 2016, an increase of 112 percent. And in late March 2017, the FAA announced that more than 770,000 UAS operators have registered their drones with the FAA since the registration rule went into effect. The total number of drone sightings the FAA has reported – 2,616 since August 2015 – only accounts for 0.34 percent of the total number of registered operators.


    Among the findings in AMA’s new analysis of the FAA drone data:

    Consistent with what AMA found in the August 2015 and March 2016 data sets, some sightings included in the data set appear to involve people flying responsibly and in accordance with UAS guidelines. In the February 2017 data, AMA specifically identified 86 reports of drones flying at or below 400 feet.


    Like the previous data sets, the February 2017 data contains reports of several objects other than drones, including balloons, birds, a parasail, a “blob” and a “silver box.” The term drone continues to be used as a “catch-all” for any object spotted in the sky.


    While the FAA has expressed its intent to punish careless and reckless operators, law enforcement notifications continue to decline. In the August 2015 data, nearly 20 percent of reports were not referred to local law enforcement or law enforcement notification was unknown. To compare, in the March 2016 data that number was 29 percent, and in the February 2017 data that number is 30 percent.


    The data includes 13 sightings that occurred in areas near wildfires or wildfire-related Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs). This is an increase from the previous two datasets in which only 4 of such sightings were reported.


    AMA’s complete analysis of the FAA data can be found here: 

    https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/UASSightingsAnalysisbyAMA5-10-17.pdf 


  • 29 Sep 2017 9:30 PM | Andrew (Administrator)
    FAA Reauthorization Extension through March 2018


    The AMA Government Relations team has been working diligently with Congress to ensure our hobby is protected in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation. Last night, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives passed a six-month extension of the FAA’s current authorization.

        The new FAA extension provides continuity for the aviation community, including model aircraft. This extension means the Special Rule for Model Aircraft will remain in place and our members can continue to fly under AMA’s set of community-based safety guidelines, as we have for many decades.

        However, we still believe a longer-term reauthorization of the FAA is needed. That’s why we look forward to working with Congress on a full FAA reauthorization bill that strengthens the Special Rule for Model Aircraft and affirms the role of community-based organizations like AMA in educating and managing hobbyists.



  • 29 Sep 2017 9:17 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Government Relations Update, September 29, 2017


    It’s been another busy few weeks for the AMA Government Relations team in Washington, D.C. and across the country.

        Last week, the team attended Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) meetings in Washington to help shape recommendations on the role of state and local government in the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). 

        In addition, as a part of AMA’s involvement in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), we participated in meetings to discuss remote identification and tracking of UAS. Also this week, AMA President Rich Hanson spoke at Aviation Safety Week events across Virginia, where he discussed the importance of integrating UAS into the skies surrounding airports. We encourage you to read more about one of the events here!

        At the local level, the team helped AMA members in California, New Jersey and Nebraska fight potentially harmful legislation. We also spoke with numerous community leaders across the country about new flying fields and possible partnerships with AMA.

        Lastly, our team attended the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, where AMA shared information on flying model aircraft safely. We also discussed this topic in a recent episode of the OpenSpace podcast. Click here to check it out!



  • 06 Jul 2017 3:29 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    AMA is working hard in Washington, D.C. to represent and protect our hobby. We want to share with you more information about our activities this week.

    First, AMA President Rich Hanson attended two meetings of the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), which brings the industry together to provide recommendations to the FAA concerning a full range of aviation-related issues. Importantly, this includes the integration of UAS into our nation’s airspace. For years, AMA has shared our experience managing the hobbyist community in these meetings, which play a significant role in shaping FAA policy.


    Also, our Director of Government Relations, Chad Budreau, participated in the Domestic Drone Security Summit. The goal of this meeting is to facilitate engagement between industry and government around drone security issues, inspire understanding, discuss solutions, and find areas for mutual collaboration.

    This week Chad also met with the Army Corp of Engineers to discuss a potential partnership that could allow AMA to open many new flying sites across the U.S. Although this opportunity is still in the discussion phase, we are excited about creating more places for you to fly.


    As always, we are committed to updating members on AMA’s government relations efforts as frequently as possible, including our work to protect the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in FAA reauthorization legislation. The most up to date information is available on our website www.modelaircraft.org/gov and we encourage you to reach out with any questions.


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