Your questions answered-What is a “nationwide community-based organization?”

The Academy of Aeronautics Government Relations team would like to thank everyone who has visited our blog, asked questions and kept an eye on the current situation with the NPRM and proposed rules that could affect aeromodelers.

In a recent blog post, “President signs FAA bill, includes protection for model aviation” a question was asked regarding the term “nationwide community-based organization, and what the term means in reference to safe flight. This question might be one that many of you have, because the new FAA Reauthorization Bill specifically mentions that modelers will operate within this type of organization under the provision.

Rich Hanson, leader of the AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs offers this definition:

Per the Conference Committee’s report-

The term “nationwide community-based organization” is intended to mean a membership based association that represents the aeromodeling community within the United States; provides its members a comprehensive set of safety guidelines that underscores safe aeromodeling operations within the National Airspace System and the protection and safety of the general public on the ground; develops and maintains mutually supportive programming with educational institutions, government entities and other aviation associations; and acts as a liaison with government agencies as an advocate for its members.

To find out more about the FAA Reauthorization Bill see the latest AMA Government Relations media release here.


  1. Currently non-AMA members fly at sites other than established model aviation fields (ie: AMA clubs). How will this impact the new regulations and how will the new role for AMA address this? Will the FAA expect AMA to be responsible for their activities (even though AMA or local clubs may not be aware of the non-members activities)?

    1. We won’t know for sure how the FAA will address the non-AMA modeler until the proposed sUAS rule is published in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) slated for release later this spring.

      However, it’s clear that the provisions provided in the recent FAA reauthorization bill do not apply to model aircraft operations conducted outside the safety programming of a nationwide community-based organization. Therefore, it’s easily assumed that the proposed rule will establish minimum safety criteria for what I call the non participating modeler. And, I suspect this criteria will be relatively restrictive as to what, where and how these individuals can operate model aircraft.

      No, AMA will not be responsible for the Non participating modelers and it will be left to the FAA to enforce whatever criteria is established in the sUAS rule.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

  2. I know a few people that fly out at the dry lake beds who do not have current AMA memberships, how will this affect them?

    1. For now they are expected to follow the guidance set forward in the FAA Advisory Circular, AC 91-57.

      Assuming the proposed sUAS rule contains specific criteria for model operations conducted outside of the programming of a nationwide community-based organization (non AMA member), once the rule is implemented non AMA members will be required to comply with the criteria spelled out in the federal regulation.

  3. Um where would Congress have the authority under the Constitution to regulate me flying my personal remotely controlled aircraft?

    “[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;”

    The idea that flying an aircraft (I’m a professional pilot) would fall into the commerce clause is debatable, but this regulate and now Congress “allowing” us under a nationwide “community based organization”, just appears to be yet another usurpation of power.

    1. Brian, I can’t answer the Constitutionality aspect of your comment; however, Congree has impowered the FAA to regulate and manage the National Airspace System (NAS) for well over 50 years.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

  4. I am an AMA member in California. I often fly my electric RC planes at a public county park which allows electric RC aircraft but is not connected to the sanctions of the AMA or any club. Some very brief basic safety rules are posted on a sign (keep clear of people, trails, parking lots and structures…). AMA and non-AMA members are allowed to fly there. Does my AMA insurance cover me for liability when I fly at at that site?

    Also, if I fly my electric RC plane at a public school ground or any non-regulated private property, does my AMA insurance cover me for liability in that case as well?

    1. Wayne, The simple answer is your AMA liability insurance covers you wherever you fly.

      As an AMA member you have agreed to comply with and must follow AMA’s Safety Code and related safety guidelines wherever you fly as well. It’s unlikely the basic safety rules posted on the sign conflict with the AMA Safety Code; however, keep in mind… You must always comply with the AMA Safety Code, and the safety code requires that you comply with all locally established rules and restrictions.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

  5. My crystal ball suggests that if we generally follow AMA’s guidelines anywhere we fly, FAA will not give priority to minor infractions. In other words, I’m not losing sleep over this.

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