In a recent Letter to the AMA Model Aviation Editor, AMA member Frank Phelps from Spring Hill, FL presented some thought provoking insight to the small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) rulemaking issue…
“I’ve read a lot of stuff on the online forums about government interference in our hobby and the FAA destroying model aviation as we know it. While we need to remain vigilant of the upcoming FAA small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) regulations we also need to remain calm and not get hysterical about it. The FAA is not out to get us hobbyist. They are tasked with regulating a rapidly growing sUAS industry that is closely related to what we do and can have an inadvertent negative impact on us. The inclusion of sUAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) is of concern to the FAA for safety of flight in the NAS and nothing more. We as modelers flying from our designated (chartered club) fields are not a threat to the NAS. Unrestricted sUAS flying in the NAS is a threat to the flying public and needs to be closely regulated. Being able to distinguish between what we do and the uses the new sUAS can and will be allowed to do in the NAS will be difficult but does not spell the end of aviation modeling.”
Frank, I couldn’t have said it better myself… The one area where we need to pay particular attention is the “inadvertent negative impact” the sUAS regulation may have on model aviation. Though I agree the regulators are not intent on burdening the aeromodeling community, some criteria that they may view as insignificant may well be onerous for the modelers and if implemented result in a detrimental impact on model aviation. This is why it’s so important the modelers remain vigilant and informed as the sUAS rulemaking process unfolds, and why it’s essential that each and every one of us makes our views and opinions known by participating in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) call for public comment once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.
Assuming the sUAS rulemaking process remains on track, the FAA has targeted mid December 2011, for the release of the sUAS NPRM.