The List of States Considering UAS (‘Drone’) Legisalation Grows

Texas and Idaho join the growing list of a dozen states considering state laws aimed at legislating the use of unmanned aircraft systems (‘Drones’). The number of states either developing or actively pursuing UAS legislation includes…

California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia

PL 112-95 tasks the FAA with submitting to Congress and making public a 5-year road map for the introduction of civil UAS into the national airspace system. This report is due to Congress by February 14, 2013, and is to be updated annually. Public comments made recently by FAA officials indicate the report will include a comprehensive multi-agency stakeholder approach to addressing the privacy concerns relating to the use of unmanned aircraft in the civil environment.

However, as the deadline for submitting this comprehensive plan approaches, many states are taking the initiative to instill privacy and civil liberties protections from ‘Drone’ surveillance through state level legislation. The twelve states listed above all have legislative initiatives in progress, most of them primarily address the use of UAS for persistent surveillance by law enforcement and government entities. However, some legislation such as Oregon’s Senate Bill 71 has troubling language that could have unintended consequences for aeromodeling enthusiasts.

The inordinate attention given this issue and the media’s exploitive use of the term ‘Drone’ is fueling a growing hysteria regarding potential abuse of UAS technology. This pseudo frenzy is resulting in a kneejerk reaction by politicians to address public concern. This was most recently illustrated by the actions of the Charlottesville, VA City Council declaring the city to be a “No Drone Zone” and associating the domestic use of unmanned aircraft to the militarized drones deployed in the war theatre and the “drone wars” in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

AMA’s Government Relations Team is working to evaluate each piece of legislation being introduced and will provide an assessment of the legislation through the Government Relations advocacy page on the AMA website. In areas where potential detrimental impact on model aviation is identified, AMA is taking steps to address our concern with the sponsors of the bill(s) and the legislative bodies. Please check the AMA website frequently for updates on legislative issues that may affect your local community and for guidance from the AMA on how to best address your concerns.

In order to react as quickly as possible we need your help in making us aware and keeping us informed. The AMA is asking its members to remain vigilant about any potential legislation you may become aware of in your state and local area, and report this to AMA’s Government Relations Team.

Working together we can ensure that model aviation will remain safe from possibly well-intentioned but poorly written legislation. Any information that you believe would be helpful should be emailed to the AMA Government Relations Team at amagov@modelaircraft.org .

Rich Hanson
AMA Government Regulatory Affairs

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21 Responses to The List of States Considering UAS (‘Drone’) Legisalation Grows

    • It was invented to be fun. Those who use a camera for survelence or other purposes are unwelome in this hobby. Any legislation should permit AMA registered pilots in good standing, use of flight video.
      I get that we don’t want to be ‘spied’ on, but if there is nothing to hide. You are on camera almost every where you go today. People who are caught using this technology with malice or illegal intent should be delt with appropriately. No need to wreck it for the well meaning folks.

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  1. You can begin to see the unintended consequences of this expansion of UAV’s into what has, up to now, been civilian commercial and recreational airspace. As RC modelers know, radio controlled models crash, sometimes with consequences worse than broken airplanes. So what happens when Federal, state and local governments with more tax money than skill and knowledge begin to fly (and crash) their UAV’s? To the public/news media they’re all toy airplanes. How will they discriminate and not turn their anger toward us when govt. UAV’s start falling out of the skies?

    I think AMA will need some sort of public relations campaign to draw the distinction between us and them at some stage. Otherwise the FAA will legislate with a meat cleaver instead of a scalpel and our activities will be restricted even more, this time in the name of public safety.

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  2. Full Scale aircraft should be included in whatever restrictions are leveled against drones. Why would aerial photographs or videos taken with them be exempted from the regulations? If aerial photography in the future is permitted at all, some very serious consideration will have to be made about what is permissible resolution in the images, and what subject matter can be photographed. This transcends a thin line between our basic freedoms and the right to privacy!

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    • What kind of $ 500 “drone” is he talking about that can be bought in a store that can be parked in the sky for 24/7? This is just stupid leave us alone we fly as a recreation just like he most likely plays tennis or golf.
      Contact your congress people and oppose this stupidity and join the AMA!

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    • I’m in Texas. I contacted my state rep, my state senator, and the state rep that introduced the bill. He seems well-intentioned, but obviously is “cutting your fingernails with a machete” with this bill. I suggest calling your state rep and state senator and giving our side of the story. I found that by explaining why it’s overbroad, explaining that it will hurt hobbyists, researchers, defense contractors, etc., that they at least acted fairly receptively. I think this works better than just calling or emailing and telling them they’re dumb or stupid or whatever.

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  3. What is that guy on TV doing flying so close to a major highway?
    We do not do FPV at our field. Our field is rural and about 1500 ft. from 2 highways. 15 years ago a member strapped a camcorder to his plane and flew the typical pattern. We found approaches from one direction passed over a state highway and cautioned members to minimize or shorten their approach from that direction. We moved to our present site in 2007.
    I believer FPV on fixed wing planes is dangerous because of tunnel vision and poor depth perception. We warn wach other when we are “getting too far out.” Our heli pilots are more interested in aerobatics than FPV. We fly everything from park flyers to 28 lb. 1/3 scale and nitro and electric helicopters all at the same time.

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  4. Any where we can sign against the bills? I have quite a few friends from school (and internet) who would fight against this with us.

    The idiots that came up with this idea, this isn’t just regular stupid..It’s advanced stupid.

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    • AMA is currently filtering through and evaluating all the state level proposed legislation. We will be preparing an assessment of each bill and a recommended course of action shortly. Please check the AMA webpage frequently for the most up to date information.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

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  5. Well if this passes I guess then Google will have to shutdown the maps then because they will not be able to drive around towns anymore and take pictures of every ones houses. Oh so is the goverment going to shutdown all of the satillites then that can also spy on us from above, and what about all the cameras that are already in place in the corners of all the stop lights that can also see our houses…

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    • Satellites have generally been considered to be outside the control of the governments they fly over.

      As for google’s cars, they’re not unmanned aircraft, so they would not be covered.

      And even if google uses aircraft, they use manned aircraft, so they’re not covered either.

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  6. Thanks Rich for your involvement. We met and spoke about FPV at the Southeastern FPV fly-in in Atlanta Ga. I felt that you were a very open minded person, and Im thankful that you care about all aspects of radio controlled flight. FPV evokes mixed emotions; either you love it or hate it. The AMA recognizing this niche aspect of rc was a first step and its been gaining in popularity We are normal people, we fly LOS as well, we have no ill intent to spy or break laws, but rather to enjoy the feeling of flight from the ground.

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  7. What we should do is give the government a dramatic demonstration of just how educational aero modeling is for schools of all levels. Show them how many schools are currently using aeromodeling as an educational tool.
    How could we show that our hobby/sport is an excellent tool for learning for our kids instead of just a bunch of older gentleman playing with “toys”. Give the government proof by presenting RC aero modeling school programs around the US. Doing it this way may make it more difficult take our hobby/sport away.

    Or just watch as our great hobby/sport is taken away.

    http://www.amadistrictii.org/column/2004/2004-09%20Column.pdf

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  8. Whats next, windows on high rise buildings? Long range FPV RC aircrafts are not easily created, and flown by beginners. That thing in the commercial can be reproduced with an iphone and a extension ladder. Take that suit off and fly that store bought toy more than 50′ feet away and the resulting resolution would not be better than a polaroid. $500? Try $1200, and alot of trial and error. I’ve been there and done that, and still learning. Give me a break

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  9. Pingback: Oregon Legislation Threatens FPV Hobbyists - PDXDrones

  10. Federal Licensing is probably the best solution for this issue. If pilots and their UAV craft are FAA licensed and regulated through licensing (and self policing by the licensees) there will likely be little issues. This is akin to the Amateur Radio licensing by the FCC. To obtain a license, pilots would need to pass a test consisting of rules and regulations and also register their aircraft. Those complying would continue to enjoy their hobby. Those not complying would likely be shut down by those who have complied.

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