Most everyone should be aware by now that the FAA is working on developing new regulation aimed at enabling the operation of commercial and public use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system (NAS). FAA intends to include criteria for recreational UAS (model aircraft) in the new regulation and indications are that this criteria will be significantly more restrictive than the guidelines established in the current advisory circular, AC 91-57. However, the regulation is also expected to include a provision that will allow community based organizations such as the AMA to submit their own set of standards for model aircraft (MA) operations, and if accepted and adopted by the FAA can be used as an alternative means of complying with the UAS regulation. AMA has a workgroup in place that has been developing just such a set of standards, and we are optimistic that these standards will allow aeromodeling operations to continue in the future in much the same way as they have in the past.
Last spring AMA launched a Congressional Awareness campaign aimed at alerting our Senate and Congressional representatives as to our concern over the proposed regulation and its potential impact on the modeling community. This campaign was very well received and was successful in gaining the support of many of the congressional leaders.
We are now just weeks away from the release of the FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) which may come as early as mid January. The NPRM will provide a 90-120 day public comment period to allow interested parties to comment on the proposed rule and to make constructive suggestions toward improving the regulation. Once the rule is published AMA will be providing suggestions and guidance for responding to the NPRM. This will be your opportunity to weigh in on the issue. It is also very likely the AMA will organize a parallel congressional campaign to once again draw attention to our concerns.
It’s extremely important that we start gearing up for the NPRM and are prepared to respond to the public notice once the proposed rule is published. In preparing for our response this would be a great time to start garnering the support of your families, friends, your community, schools, charitable/fraternal organizations and anyone else who has an interest in model aviation. Once the NPRM is published we will need to respond in substantial numbers to make sure our voice is heard and we’ll need all the help we can get.