Embracing new technologies; A message from AMA President Bob Brown

First-person view flight (FPV) and multirotor semi-autonomous flight continue to grow at a quick pace among model aviation enthusiasts. In fact, many AMA members enjoy this facet of aeromodeling. For the last several months, AMA has been looking at how to provide additional benefits for this new and emerging community to support its current members and potentially attract new ones. Every AMA member benefits when our membership grows because it increases our voice when advocating for the entire membership. AMA President Bob Brown shares his thoughts on this in the following video. AMA will continue to keep members informed through a series of follow-up videos on this subject.

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11 Responses to Embracing new technologies; A message from AMA President Bob Brown

  1. As an FPVer, and someone who took a prominent role in pushing the AMA be more accepting toward FPV a year ago, I will say that this message is an encouraging first step toward mending the rift between FPVers and the AMA.

    The AMA started to change its attitude toward FPV a year ago with their somewhat more relaxed policies, spurred in part by the petition a group of us put together. But they still haven’t dealt with the fundamental question of how they are going to accommodate the reality of widespread beyond visual line of sight FPV (which the vast majority of FPVers do regularly), and they have not taken a stance on whether they will advocate for our right to fly beyond line of sight with the FAA. The AMA’s insistence in its current rules that FPV be limited to visual line of sight is still the biggest barrier between FPVers and the AMA, and until they address that issue to our satisfaction, they are not going to draw very many FPVers into an organization which many FPVers view as being hostile toward the very core of what we do.

    This message has a lot of good-sounding rhetoric, but not a whole lot of substance. For all Mr. Brown talks about the AMA embracing new technologies, the very fact that he has to give this message is a tacit admission that the AMA is far behind the curve on this one and is racing to catch up to stay relevant to an area of the hobby which has evolved largely without it for the last few years. I’m cautiously optimistic about this, but I want to hear a lot more specifics about how the AMA intends to embrace FPV before I’m willing to trust them to stand for our best interests.

  2. I am a member of the AMA and I VERY happy to hear that you support this new part of our hobby I also appreciate that the AMA support new tech it is the motivation for our youth and the hobby PLEASE keep up this position I will be a member for life

  3. I am concern that this technology has the ability to fly away from visual range if used improperly, something RC can not normally do. Plus this equipment is being used I believe by a wide range of people, probably many with different interests than what has historically brought people into modeling. I saw a video on u tube taken by a quadcopter flying down the Hudson River, obviously beyond visual range of the operator. That airspace is busy, helicopters and light aircraft. A midair with a “model” would be a tragic setback to our hobby.

    Please take care to differentiate “modeling” from un-safe practices that can result from improperly using the FPV technology.

  4. If you truly believe FPV is good for aero modeling in general, and the AMA specifically, then maybe it is time for new leadership in the AMA. I’ve seen more renegade operation of FPV than responsible operation. Recently there was a flyer (non club or AMA member ,who will not be back) at our field who said his airplane was operating at 1500′ AGL and a mile and a half south of the field according to his telemetry. This was a small electric powered sailplane, there is no way a human can see a model operating in that environment with the naked eye. FPV allows this kind of operation and there is nothing the AMA can do to stop it. AMA needs to strongly condemn this (FPV) rather than the AMA president making a video trying to convince us this is a good thing. These idiots are posting their stupidity on line everyday, how long do you think the FAA is going to sit back and let this idiotic behavior continue before they flex their muscles and severely restrict ALL model aviation?

  5. Reply to: FPV Video by Bob Brown
    Generally, I agree with AMA’s view to embrace new technologies for the advancement of our hobby and for the aeronautical sciences etc. However, regarding FPV devices, I DON’T understand how these devices can be construed as ‘Model Aircraft’ as defined by the AMA / FAA, since they seem to violate one of the primary defining requirements; namely, being controlled by ‘LINE-OF-SIGHT’. FPV devices are NOT flown by LINE-OF-SIGHT, therefore, I’d like to know HOW the AMA can embrace this technology under the guise of a ‘MODEL AIRCRAFT’. PLEASE EXPLAIN to me how the AMA can IGNORE this otherwise OBVIOUS EXCEPTION, allowing FPV to be part of a wide variety of R/C pursuits under the guidance and protection of the AMA? Further, I don’t understand how FPV can be accepted as a MODEL AIRCRAFT, without REDEFINING the existing definition. Again, PLEASE EXPLAIN.
    Thank You!
    Joe D. AMA #700418

    • Joe, your comment is valid as part of an open discussion. But, lets not be too limiting considering that the first flying models we gliders or free throw aircraft. Then they were flowed by the control string, as they circled about us. As stated by Bob Brown, it was in the 1940s that radio control, by channels, came into being and became affordable in the 1980s. Today, we still have radio control, but we use spread spectrum technologies for better safety. So we have grown from through and forget, to radio control within line of sight, and now we have FPV which is limited only by the radio range capability, but with eyes inside the cockpit.
      Times are changing and so is technology. Yes, the definition may have to change as well. The range of control could be defined for FPV, or the power of the transmitter/receiver can be defined for FPV. This would be no different than Ham Radio and CB radio guidelines. Will people violate these guidelines, that is an enforcement effort of the regulators. Just as the FCC is responsible for CB’ers using 10-50 Watt transmitters in their cars.
      As stated by Bob Brown, the AMA has always embraced new technology and scientific development. But always by adopting and understanding the technology we can provide safety guidelines and procedures at our fields. This will assure the these changes are kept in check with public concerns.
      But, nothing is absolutely safe. There will always be someone that will take an idea or technology and use it badly. A garage door opener, a wireless door bell control, etc can be used in mprovised explosive devices (IED) using simple home materials for explosives. Or one can use and airliner to take hostages for money or blow up building. We can’t protect against this type of use of technology, unless be end all technology and advancement and in this case life’s pleasures of flight for those of use that have a love of flight, but cannot afford the joy of cockpit controls. I love to fly, and I look forward to one day being able to upgrade my multi-rotor platform to handle FPV, but I also look forward to learning from others to do so in a safe environment, based on their experiences

    • AMA Safety Cade requires that ALL Radio Controlled Aircraft be flown under line-of-site see and avoid rules. If you look at the Safety Code for FPV it requires that a spotter accompany the FPV pilot during the flight. This spotter provides the line-of-site and see and avoid safety element for flight. Their responsibility is to assume control of the craft if the situation demands such action.

      My concern with FPV pilots are those who are either unaware or aware and not following the AMA safety code. If one of them creates an incident, we (AMA ) will be tagged with the stigma of public condemnation no matter what our rules say. That’s why I think FPV is a threat and should be banned.

  6. It is clear to me the AMA is not protecting what is commonly referred to as ‘drones’ that can fly well out line of sight by either using very high powered FPV equipment of under autonomous GPS control.
    Several sections of the AMA Document #550 “Radio Controlled Model Aircraft Operation
    Utilizing ‘First Person View’ Systems” indicate the VLOS requirement.
    Section 3.b “All FPV flights require an AMA FPV pilot to have an AMA FPV spotter next to him/her maintaining VLOS with the FPV aircraft throughout its flight.”
    Section 3.d “The AMA FPV spotter must communicate with the FPV pilot to ensure the FPV
    aircraft remains within VLOS, warning the FPV pilot of approaching aircraft, and
    when avoidance techniques are necessary”
    Steve Legge AMA#970501

  7. So, I posted a reply in complete support of the AMA’s position on FPV several days ago and it has disappeared. I know it was pending approval, but can the approver tell me why? Thanks

  8. One issue that has not been covered is that fact that these aircraft carry cameras. It leaves the potential for improper use, exposing clubs and the AMA to possible civil or legal actions. I’m not saying no to FPV, but this issue should addressed if our sport is to continue.

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