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.

<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 
  • 07 Jul 2019 1:33 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    The AMA Executive Council and the Government Affairs team took a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for our hobby. We had many productive and encouraging meetings with leaders at the FAA, members of Congress and several of our allies in the aviation community.


    Throughout these meetings, we continued to emphasize AMA’s commitment to safety and education. We also highlighted examples of how flying model aircraft is a pathway to STEM-related to careers and the work we do to support local charities.

    Importantly, we discussed the upcoming FAA rule-makings for recreational UAS, and we were encouraged by the positive tone of the dialogue. The FAA recognizes the importance of the model aviation community and wants to continue our longstanding partnership. On Capitol Hill, members of Congress pledged support to AMA and stand ready to weigh-in with the FAA on our behalf, as needed.


    We also spoke with representatives from ATC to discuss the Letters of Agreement process. We’ll continue working closely with them to ensure that there is no disruption in our ability to fly. We’ve also learned that LAANC (the FAA’s low altitude authorization and notification capability system) will be available for recreational operators in controlled airspace on July 23, 2019. Currently, only Part 107 pilots have access to LAANC and recreational pilots are able to fly only at charted flying sites in controlled airspace. We will provide more information regarding LAANC as it becomes available.

    Rest assured – we are taking a proactive approach in working with government officials to influence the new regulations for recreational UAS in a way that is favorable for AMA members.


    Thank you for your continued support of AMA. As always, please reach out with any questions at amagov@modelaircraft.org.


    Kind regards,
    AMA Government Affairs Team


  • 12 Jun 2019 1:58 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    FAA Letter of Agreement Questionnaire Due June 16, 2019

    Thank you to the club officers who have already participated in the FAA’s new process to establish letters of agreement between clubs in controlled airspace and Air Traffic Control for flying sites in controlled airspace, as required by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

    In fact, thanks to your support, we have submitted information for over 200 clubs to the FAA to establish letters of agreement. We still have about 100 more clubs to go and will be working diligently to finish submitting those too.


    Please know that we continue to work with the FAA to prioritize these letters of agreement and ensure that clubs can continue operating safely as they always have. As such, we have been told by the FAA that they will honor both verbal and written agreements with ATC for the continued safe operation of model aircraft clubs in controlled airspace. This should ensure that there is no interruption in your club’s ability to operate. (For the long-term, you will still need a written letter of agreement with ATC– this is what the new process mentioned above is designed to help with.)


    Nevertheless, if for some reason you do have issues with a local tower or airport, please let us know so we can help resolve the situation. In fact, earlier this week we were able to help re-open two clubs in the Denver area that were previously shutdown due to misinformation.


    If your club flying site is located in controlled airspace, please check with your club officers to ensure that your club’s questionnaire has been submitted.  All FAA questionnaire submissions will be due on June 16, 2019, any submission after this date could delay the LOA process for your club’s flying site.


    As always, please contact us at (765) 287-1256 or amagov@modelaircraft.org with your questions and concerns.


    We appreciate your support and cooperation.
    Academy of Model Aeronautics


  • 06 Jun 2019 2:10 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    FAA Begins Letter of Agreement Process


    The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 requires all flying sites within controlled airspace to have a letter of agreement (LOA) with air traffic control (ATC) facilities. AMA is working directly with the FAA to prioritize this work and ensure that you have the protections you need to continue to fly. However, we need some additional information to accomplish this.


    Recently, emails have been sent to club officers to ensure correct completion of an FAA questionnaire to obtain the information needed for this LOA. Multiple submissions for the same flying site will delay the process of an LOA, so the email was sent only to club officers to coordinate this effort.


    If your questionnaire is not submitted to AMA by Sunday, June 16, 2019, your flying site in controlled airspace my be impacted.


    The FAA plans to have an airspace authorization system (LAANC) for recreational flights operational later this summer. Until then, the only path to fly legally in controlled airspace is at a flying site with an LOA in place. During this new LOA process, the FAA will honor any existing verbal or written agreement the club has with local ATC.


    You can determine your airspace classification on the FAA’s UAS Data map.


    Please contact us at (765) 287-1256 or amagov@modelaircraft with any questions. We appreciate your support and cooperation!


    Sincerely,
    Academy of Model Aeronautics


  • 16 May 2019 7:30 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    FAA Memorandum for Air Traffic Control Education


    Recently an FAA Memorandum that addressed altitude and flying restrictions in controlled airspace was circulated around the internet. This memorandum was intended as FAA guidance to educate air traffic control facilities (ATC) on best methods to respond to recreational flyers seeking authorization, not as guidance to recreational operators.


    Recent legislation under Section 349 (c) states operators in controlled airspace will be required to seek authorization from towered airports, unless flying from a charted flying site. We successfully championed that if you are flying at an AMA flying field or sanctioned event, you can continue flying by following AMA’s safety program and within the existing agreements your club or contest director has with nearby airports.


    AMA has been in contact with the FAA regarding this memorandum, and we have been assured that our flying sites’ current agreements with air traffic control facilities (ATC) will be honored and our members can continue flying within AMA’s safety program, as usual. This memorandum was not intended for public distribution, and out of context can read as problematic or contradictory to previous messaging to protect our operations. The FAA clarified this memorandum is just one of many steps in the Section 349 implementation process.


    Future steps in the implementation process will include the need for letters of agreements (LOA) between AMA flying sites in controlled airspace and nearby ATC. Updates and guidance on how clubs should proceed with LOAs will be provided to our members in the coming days.


    Please monitor social media and www.modelaircraft.org/amagov for the latest information. You can reach our offices at 765-287-1256 or amagov@modelaircraft.org.


  • 27 Apr 2019 12:30 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Letters of Agreement Between Clubs and Air Traffic Control


    In the near future, hobbyists and drone operators will no longer have to notify every airport within a five mile radius before an operation. When this provision is removed, it will be replaced by a new requirement that operators in controlled airspace will be required to seek authorization from towered airports, unless flying from a charted flying site. We successfully championed that if you are flying at an AMA flying field or sanctioned event, you can continue flying as you always have following AMA’s safety program and within the existing agreements your club or contest director has with nearby airports.


    The FAA has begun contacting clubs within controlled airspace to make certain they have a written letter of agreement in place. While we encourage our clubs to work towards this LOA, it’s important to remember that legislation states that recreational users and ATC establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure, so input should be coming from both the club and ATC. Click here to view our LOA template.


    You can read Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 here. The provision relating to the letter of agreement reads:


    (c) OPERATIONS AT FIXED SITES.—


    “(1) OPERATING PROCEDURE REQUIRED.—Persons operating unmanned aircraft under subsection (a) from a fixed site within Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, or a community-based organization conducting a sanctioned event within such airspace, shall make the location of the fixed site known to the Administrator and shall establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the air traffic control facility.


    AMA encourages all clubs to contact AMA HQ before signing any agreement with the FAA or air traffic control facility. You can reach our offices at 765-287-1256 or amagov@modelaircraft.org. Please monitor social media and www.modelaircraft.org/amagov for the latest information.


  • 21 Mar 2019 5:00 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    FAA seeks comments on Safe & Secure Operations of UAS


    Model aviation needs your help to ensure future regulations do not place unnecessary burdens on our community. Last month, the FAA issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding the safe and secure operations of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In this ANPRM, the FAA is currently seeking comments on potential new rulemaking for operational and performance restrictions on UAS, including model aircraft. Some of the parameters being considered include altitude, airspeed, stand-off distances and unmanned aircraft traffic management.


    AMA has long held that the hobby of model aviation has introduced no new risk into the airspace, and therefore should not be subject to any new regulations. AMA is in the process of submitting comments to the FAA to this effect, urging the agency to take into consideration the existing safety guidelines for modelers and the differences between model aircraft and commercial drones – the FAA cannot and should not take a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating them.


    It is critical that we voice our support for the hobby by submitting a comment to the Federal Register regarding this ANPRM. Click here to submit a comment or visit www.regulations.gov and search for Docket No. FAA – 2018 – 1086; Notice No. 18-08. Below you’ll find a suggested template for comments, which you can customize with your personal story and then copy and paste into the comment field on the Federal Register website. The current deadline for submitting comments is 11:59 pm on April 15, 2019.


    Rulemaking is a lengthy process but rest assured that AMA will continue to advocate for our members and keep you informed as it progresses. You can read FAQs regarding this ANPRM or reach out with any further questions or concerns at amagov@modelaircraft.org. As always, thank you for your continued support!


    Thank you,

    AMA Government Affairs


    Template Comment for AMA Members: ANPRM Safe and Secure Operations


    I am writing in response to the FAA’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the safe and secure operations of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including model aircraft. My position is simple: model aviation has introduced no new risk into the airspace, and therefore should not be subject to new regulations.


    As the FAA considers new rules for UAS, I urge the agency to take into consideration the existing safety guidelines for modelers and account for the fact that model aircraft and commercial drones are not the same – the FAA cannot and should not take a one-size-fits-all approach to regulations. Not only would that approach run counter to the long-standing principles guiding both manned and unmanned aviation regulations, but it would also place an unnecessary burden on hobbyists like me who have been flying model aircraft for recreational and educational purposes safely for many years.


    Hobbyists who fly model aircraft do not need to be included in new rules for drone operators because we already follow our own proven set of safety guidelines, often at remote fixed flying site locations. All AMA members fly according to the organization’s safety code, which has been recognized by Congress as an effective means for managing the modeling community. Our existing safety guidelines work – and there’s no reason to add new rules.


    For example, AMA members always fly within visual line of sight of their aircraft, which allows model aircraft pilots to see and avoid anything that may be flying nearby. Also, AMA members must maintain a 25-foot distance between their aircraft and any individuals whenever they are flying. At competitions and events, spectators are required to stay behind a well-defined line, typically 50-100 feet away from the flight line where pilots are operating models, depending on the size of the event and aircraft.


    Advanced drones, however, have created the possibility for new risk, and that’s why AMA has supported giving the FAA the authority it needs over sophisticated drones with advanced capabilities, such as those designed for sustained and controlled navigation beyond visual line of sight. The FAA could use the presence of a navigational system that utilizes multiple waypoints as a means of differentiation between model aircraft and sophisticated drones.


    New restrictions on model aviation could have a detrimental impact on long-standing model aviation events and competitions that support local charities and non-profits. Beyond curtailing events and harming charities, new rules would have a chilling effect on youth involvement in the hobby and stifle the benefits of utilizing model aviation in STEM education, ultimately hindering efforts to attract youth to the aviation industry.


    Again, I urge you to consider model aviation hobbyists separately from operators flying sophisticated drones as you work on new rules for UAS. Not all model aircraft and drones are the same, so the FAA cannot simply take a one-size-fits-all approach.


    Respectfully,

    [Name]

    [City, State]

    [Optional] AMA Member Number: _________


  • 21 Mar 2019 2:00 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Government Affairs Update, March 20, 2019


    Federal Issues

    Earlier this month, the AMA Government Affairs team met with Congressional members and staff from Indiana, Texas, Alaska, Louisiana, Virginia, Oregon, Massachusetts, Arizona, Missouri, and Washington. We also had meetings with the House Transportation Committee, Senate Commerce Committee, the FAA, and various media outlets who wanted to sit down with AMA to discuss the impact of new federal regulations. These meetings will help our long-standing hobby as we begin to work through the implementation of Section 349 with the FAA.


    State & Local Issues

    To date, we have tracked and monitored nearly 270 proposed state level legislation in 2019, as local governments look to restrict unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) due to privacy and safety concerns. One such problematic bill in New Jersey (A 2880) seeks to require geofencing on all unmanned aircraft sold or operated in the state. At this point, we do not expect this bill to gain support, but our New Jersey members should continue to monitor email in case we need to call upon our members to engage.


    We have also been in contact with local lawmakers in North Carolina, South Dakota, and Oklahoma to offer resources and help shape burdensome city ordinances. If you hear of any proposed problematic legislation in your area, please reach out to our government affairs team at amagov@modelaircraft.org.


    FAA Registration and External Marking

    On February 15, 2019 the FAA posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring all unmanned aircraft owners to display their FAA registration number on an outside of the aircraft. UAS operators may no longer place registration numbers in an interior compartment of the aircraft. The rule went into effect on February 25, 2019. In response to this Interim Final Rule, AMA submitted a public comment you can read in full here.


    We continue to receive a lot of questions regarding FAA registration requirements and how to renew current registrations. If you were already registered with the FAA and never requested to have the registration reversed, your registration was automatically extended through December of 2020.


    Go to https://faadronezone.faa.gov/#/ and click “Log In” in the upper right-hand corner. Use the email address you originally registered with to login. If you do not recall your password, click on the “Forgot Password” link. You’ll receive an email to walk you through resetting your password. Once in your account, you can print a copy of your UAS certificate.


    However, any individual who specifically requested that his or her name be taken off the FAA registration database no longer has an FAA registration number in the system and would need to process as a new registrant.


    We strongly advise to avoid registering your model aircraft anywhere but at the official FAA website. If you register under Section 336, the fee is $5.00 for a three year registration and hobbyists receive one identification number for all the aircraft he or she owns. Please be aware of unofficial registration websites that charge exorbitant fees or require separate registration fees for each recreational aircraft.


    Please contact our government affairs team at 765-287-1256 ext 236 or amagov@modelaircraft.org with any additional questions or concerns. The latest information can be found at www.modelaircraft.org/gov, Model Aviation, and on social media.


    As always, thank you for all of your support!

    AMA Government Affairs Team


  • 18 Mar 2019 9:30 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    External Marking Requirement for FAA Registration


    On February 15, 2019 the FAA posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring all unmanned aircraft owners to display their FAA registration number on an outside of the aircraft. UAS operators may no longer place registration numbers in an interior compartment of the aircraft.


    The rule went into effect on February 25, 2019. In response to this Interim Final Rule, AMA submitted the following public comment:


    The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) represents nearly 200,000 model aircraft hobbyists across the country. Founded in 1936, we are the nation’s largest organization representing those who fly model aircraft for recreational and educational purposes. For years, our National Model Aircraft Safety Code has been recognized by Congress, as well as state legislatures, as a safe and effective means of managing model aircraft hobbyists. Our members know where, when and how to fly safely and they do not pose any new risk to the airspace.


    Since 2015, we have participated in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to establish a registration rule for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). We have long held that federal registration of UAS makes sense at an appropriate threshold of weight, capability and other safety-related characteristics. However, we continue to believe that federal registration should not apply at such a low threshold that it includes toys. Most importantly, it should not burden model aircraft hobbyists who have operated harmoniously and safely in our nation’s skies for decades.


    AMA members already comply with AMA’s own registration system. When joining AMA, members provide personal identification and contact information, and affirm that they will abide by AMA’s safety guidelines. Members are instructed to place their membership number or their name and address on or within their aircraft. Over the years, this has proven to be an effective means of linking and identifying the owner-operator of a model aircraft to his or her platform.


    Although the interim final registration rule is duplicative for AMA members, we have complied. Most AMA members already have their FAA registration number posted on the outside of their aircraft. Unfortunately, for some of our members, including the small percentage of AMA members who fly scale replica model aircraft, the interim final registration rule creates a significant burden. For these AMA members, affixing an FAA registration number on the external surface of the aircraft diminishes the accuracy of the scale replica model. The accuracy of the model is critical because it is the primary factor by which these models are judged in competitions nationally and globally.


    AMA understands and appreciates the intent behind the interim registration rule’s requirement to affix the FAA number on the outside of the aircraft. In no way do we want to create safety risks for law enforcement officials or first responders who might be tasked with opening a compartment on a model aircraft to find a registration number. However, we do not believe that model aircraft create any new risk.


    Given the relatively small number of scale replica in the airspace today, we urge the FAA to consider a waiver process for our niche community of responsible hobbyists who have been flying safely for years. Just as in the full-scale aviation community, there are exceptions to exterior aircraft marking. A waiver process will ensure that passionate and law-abiding scale replica modelers have an opportunity to continue their beloved hobby without interference.


    We look forward to continuing to work closely with the FAA regarding recreational small UAS operating requirements. As always, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our nation’s skies for all.


  • 13 Jun 2018 6:20 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    In a June 5, 2018 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Enforcement Advisory, the Enforcement Bureau cites an increase in websites that market and sell noncompliant radio accessories, particularly audio/video (AV) transmitters. AV transmitters require FCC certification to show compliance, unless they are only capable of operating on a frequency allocated for use by amateur licensees. If a transmitter is capable of exceeding the amateur frequency and power limits, it is illegal to operate in the U.S. Even if the device operates exclusively within the amateur parameters, the operator must comply with all FCC rules and is required to obtain an amateur license.


    What does this mean for you?

    Consumers purchasing radio frequency devices need to look for those labeled as FCC Part 15 compliant. Keep in mind, radio equipment designed for use on amateur frequencies does not have to be certified and labeled by the FCC and is legal for use in the U.S., but you must have an amateur license to use such equipment. In particular, when making purchases from international retailers, be vigilant on the capabilities and specifications of transmitters. Radio equipment manufactured for use elsewhere may not meet FCC regulations. The following frequencies in the Amateur Radio Band are some typically used by modelers to control the aircraft:

    • 50 MHz (CH01–CH09)
    • 53 MHz (53.000 MHz–53.900 MHz)

    Typical FPV video transmitters operating on:

    • 5.8 GHz (5.650 GHz–5.925 GHz)

    AMA Document 590  and a recent Model Aviation article by AMA Flying Site Coordinator Tony Stillman provide additional guidance for FCC regulations and model aircraft.


    We will let you know any additional information as it becomes available.  In the meantime, please reach out to us at 765-287-1256 if you have any questions or concerns.


    Sincerely,

    AMA Government Affairs Team

    Additional Resources:

    U.S. Frequency Allocations

    U.S. Amateur Radio Bands


  • 07 Jun 2018 6:15 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    The AMA Government Affairs team continues its work in Washington, D.C. to represent and protect our hobby. We want to share with you more information about our activities in recent weeks.


    As the Senate prepares to focus on FAA reauthorization legislation, members of our team have conducted numerous meetings with senators and staff sharing the importance of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336). These Senate meetings have allowed us to build upon the positive language in the House bill to further strengthen and protect model aviation. As the language for Section 336 progresses, we will continue to meet with legislators and stakeholders to advocate for our members. If the Senate moves forward with a bill, we anticipate it may happen before the July 4th holiday. Once a Senate bill is introduced, it and the House bill will go to a conference committee who will reintroduced a combined bill for a final vote before September.


    This year, we have seen fewer problematic bills proposed in state legislations, as state representatives are becoming familiar with our hobby and reach out to us for guidance. We have engaged with legislators in various states regarding eighteen proposed bills, most recently in Ohio. As introduced, House Bill 685 would further restrict the airspace and impose record keeping requirements that would burden unmanned aircraft system (UAS) retailers and operators. Our team has been in contact with the bill’s sponsor and will continue to engage with Ohio legislators as the bill goes through committee. We are optimistic that we will be able to shape this legislation, ultimately removing restrictions that could impact our members.


    We are also excited to share news from the state of Pennsylvania. Our team was recently contacted by members in the Chambersburg, Pennsylvania area concerning a proposed ban on UAS in public parks. We immediately went to work and contacted the town council with our concerns. Fortunately, the council took the time to listen to our message and to local members that attended the meeting. The Chambersburg Borough Council voted unanimously to table the recommendation indefinitely and have no plans to address this matter in the future.


    As always, we will continue our work to educate state and local legislators to protect model aviation. We appreciate all of our members for your support of these efforts. If legislation is introduced in your state or city, please let us know by contacting Government Affairs at 765-287-1256.

    We will also provide additional updates and progress reports on the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in FAA reauthorization legislation. The most current information is available on our website at modelaircraft.org/gov and we encourage you to reach out with any questions. In the coming weeks, we may ask for your help to engage with your lawmakers on the importance of the hobby, so please continue to monitor your emails and social media.


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   Next >  Last >> 


© Academy Model Aeronautics
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software