AMA President’s Statement on FPV Flight

Recreational FPV aeromodeling is a rapidly growing activity in the United States. For many, it’s an exciting experience. FPV flight involves flying a radio-controlled aircraft while viewing the flight through a set of goggles or with a monitor that simulates the pilot’s view as if he or she were sitting in the cockpit.

The AMA has a long record of evolving with new technical developments. In our more than 75 years, safety has been our primary concern in this evolution. AMA’s current policy on FPV was created in 2008, with the encouragement and significant input of members who were then active in the growing discipline of FPV flight. Since that time, rapid advancements in FPV technology have occurred. Recently members and non-members have asked us to review our current guidelines. As a result AMA has begun to evaluate its FPV policy to see if it has kept pace with technology.

As with any change in policy, AMA must carefully consider the impact that change may have on all other aeromodeling disciplines enjoyed by our more than 143,000 members. The threat of FAA regulation and the limitations that we believe the FAA will place on recreational model aviation in the near future also must be considered.

AMA thanks those who have taken the time to offer constructive suggestions concerning how the organization should approach FPV flight going forward. All of these comments will be taken into consideration as we consider the possible options.

Bob Brown
AMA President

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15 Responses to AMA President’s Statement on FPV Flight

  1. As an AMA member and FPV pilot thanks for your thoughtful comments. Hopefully we can work together for our common good in the future.

  2. Thank you very much for your consideration to “revamp” the AMA standards of the FPV AMA rules. I am looking forward to being welcomed to back to the AMA field I used to fly at.

    • Honestly, I wouldn’t get him an avaition watch unless he specifically wants one. The little flight computer rings on those things are completely worthless and something he most definitely wouldn’t use if he’s an airline pilot (because his plane will have a flight computer in it). I would just get him a nice watch that you think he would like and that fits his style.If, however, he really does want a real avaition watch, then you’re probably looking at the Citizen watches in that price range.

  3. Thank you to the AMA for reviewing the current AMA rules regarding FPV. As someone who has been flying RC airplanes on and off for 40 years, and now recently trying my hand at FPV, this is great news. My local AMA club won’t even allow FPV at our field. Mnay of them were, and still are under the impression that FPV is illegal. Hopefully this will change in the future.

    As with any activity the AMA is involved with, safety is always number one. I am sure that the AMA can modernize their guidlines for FPV that will allow this new part of the hobby to flourish safely within the AMA.

    Most FPV fliers are very safe and take safety seriously, but just as with any group of people, there are those that do not operate their FPV aircraft in a manner that is consistent with AMA saftey standards. There are prime YouTube examples of this behavior that I am sure the officers of the AMA have seen. However, there are just as many, if not more examples of people flying RC planes and helicopters in the standard line of sight mode, that are just as reckless, and take no consideration for the safety of those around them. I would venture to say that none of these people, FPV or line of sight pilots, were ever part of the AMA family of fliers. No AMA pilot would ever think of acting in such an irresponsible manner.

    So I ask you, as you consider new rules for FPV, to think about the people you are doing this for; your members, who are safety driven pilots and who respect the well being of person and property around them. The reckless will always be out there in any part of this hobby, but it’s up to us FPV pilots within the AMA to make sure that we safely preform this part of the hobby, and lead by example.

    Sincerely,

    Doug David
    AMA# 570044

  4. Thank you so much for taking this positive step. As an AMA member and a part-time FPV pilot, the growing tension between FPV flyers and the rest of the RC community mentioned by other commenters here has saddened and dismayed me. Let’s all work together to bring the rules up to date with the latest technologies, keep them flexible for the inevitable future developments, and then operate by them in the interests of safety for all.

    Sincerely,
    Dave

  5. Bob,
    Thanks for the understanding. I worked with the past President along with a few other folks to get SC550 active back in 2008. The FPV community needs a revamp of SC550 that will allow them back into fields that imposes restrictive rules.

    Relaxing the buddy box policy to ‘spotter’ will help bring folks from Rogue status to Club Member status rather quickly.

    Scott Fuller
    805217

  6. Non-members and members have reached out to the AMA – your comments here show that the AMA is reaching back, this is great news and potentially a HUGE win for the AMA and the FPV community as well. What makes aeromodeling safe is the KNOWLEDGE that the pilot posseses – as well as the launch location. This is a huge step at FPV’ers integrating more seamlessly at club fields, which reduces rogue launch sites that we are often forced to use EVEN as a card carrying AMA member. I can say that FPV pilots are WELL-VERSED in their gear, we operate the safest models out there – there is no other way to be successful in this sector of the hobby. I’m all ears on the developments regarding FPV flight.

    AMA 955487

  7. Pingback: FPV RC Flying | RTF Skymasters

  8. Aloha Bob,

    Thank you for this message. FPV is an extraordinary opportunity to keep modeling relevant and to bring new fliers into the hobby. It challenges the modeler to develop new skills, to understand electronics and developments in information technology. Besides, its a heck of a lot of fun!

    I look forward to seeing some positive coverage of FPV in Model Aviation.

    AMA 977162

  9. I am against any form of flying a model airplane outside the pilot’s normal field of view. There are far too many problems that low level aircraft can encounter during any low level flight, and also even up to mid altitude. As a 41 year veteran of aviation, military and Commercial, I have had survived bird strikes up to 18,000 ft MSL. At least two penetrated aircraft skin into hydraulic and fuel lines. I have encountered foreign substance engine damages and shutdowns at only 200 ft above the ground. I have narrowly missed at least 3 light aircraft and one jet fighter within some 50ft. Those were the ones I SAW!

    There is absolutely no reason on this earth for toy airplane fliers, untrained in 1:1 scale aviation, to be performing with out-of-sight model airplane flight. Just one civil aircraft destroyed with crew and/or passengers is just not worth the risk. I feel the same about drunk drivers.

    • That’s nonsense…..many professional aviators had model airplanes…if worked safely under FAA/AMA oversight, both FPV and Commercial Aviation can operate together in the appropriate airspace..did you feel the same way when FAA part 103 was created for ultralights and sport aircraft? ..don’t write these off as toy airplanes, many are valued at several thousand dollars in price range.

  10. I have been flying RC for 20 years and only recently became intrigued by FPV. I have not tried it yet, partly because the AMA rules are currently too burdensome to justify the investment. According to AMA, I need a buddy box, and have to find someone else to be the line-of-sight “pilot” while I am flying — at all times. That’s too restrictive because everyone else wants to fly their own planes, not be a backup pilot to someone who is flying rather slowly in circles. Flying FPV via a video transmission is no more dangerous than allowing multiple planes in the air at once (my club allows 5 at once!), allowing a beginner to fly a nitro plane, or selling a “park flyer” helicopter to a pre-teenager. Yet the AMA allows and approves of all those things, while keeping FPV very restricted. All those things I mentioned can lead to a mid-air collision, hardware failure, or pilot error, with a plane flying into the pits or the spectators. Indeed, many of us know of incidents that have occurred despite AMA guidelines or sanctioned events. This hobby is very safe, but never 100%. FPV planes are usually very lightweight, made of foam, use small electric motors, and are built by people who spend a lot of time understanding and testing their equipment before they fly. There is no good reason to fear a 3-pound FPV foam model traveling 30 MPH but applaud in approval when someone at the field hits 140 MPH on their 10-pound nitro prop jet, as seen in many YouTube videos. But we do that. These rules do not make sense.

    Years ago we had an AMA controversy over park flyers. We worried they would conflict with our frequencies, and cause harm in parks and result in lawsuits, bans and a bad reputation. But AMA finally embraced park flying and issued a new license class for it to make it cheaper to get into the hobby. We have all benefitted from the technology developed for the new park flyer market whether we fly those small planes or not. And we have brought a lot of new people into the hobby. Similarly, I think we also would have a lot to learn from FPV pilots who are taking this hobby to a new level. We often talk about how the RC hobby encourages interest in aviation. The future of aviation is clearly remote drone piloting. What better way to encourage America’s future pilots than to embrace video-piloted hobby aircraft in a responsible manner, under the guidance of club members?

    Of course, we will have our points of disagreement, particularly concerning flights that are beyond traditional line-of-sight. But I’m glad the prejudice seems to be lifting yet again, and a dialog is starting about this new branch of the hobby. We will be better off by welcoming FPV flyers to the clubs and learning from them; learning what works within the parameters of reasonable rules that encourage, not unduly restrict, FPV flying.

  11. I believe that FPV’s can be flown safely by one pilot if the appropriate equipment is utilized.
    The “out of sight” issue may be what ends up being a primary definition of a UAV. I also believe that it’s reasonably safe to fly an FPV out of sight in a rural area within a certain radius, and below a specific altitude, if appropriate equipment is used. It’s also possible to program a “go home”, and force an FPV into a no option automatic return mode if close to a distance or altitude limit.

    I cannot help but think of large farm/ranch applications, and limiting use by permit to the farm or ranch.

  12. If the initiative to make RC flight safer one needs to make safety analysis and not base decisions based on (sometimes clueless) discussions and even public fears. Good regulations must have a proper foundation of facts and analysis otherwise the result will be flawed.

    These kinds of safety analysis are nothing new. TO make safety analysis for the RC hobby all aspects of RC flying must be considered, not only FPV. What probability is there that a FPV-model crashes? Is it even higher then that of a LOS model)? Secondly when it crashed what is level of damage that can be caused? Each damage level has its own probability.

    Only by analysing safety in a professional manner will there be results worth of anything. To gladly regulate without proper ground work will never result in anything but flawed decisions. So far I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that these kinds of studies are even initiated, only a few polls and discussions groups which hardly will result in anything objective and useful.

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