In the interview with Deputy Director John McGraw, Mr. McGraw seemed to have very little to say about the aeromodeling exemption in the FAA reauthorization bill. He also made a worrisome comment about a 400 foot limit for models.
Rich Hanson, leader of the AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs:
There are a lot of unanswered question as to how the MA provisions in the reauthorization bill will be enacted, and we are still very much in the early stages of working through these issues. Shortly after President Obama signed the Bill we presented our position to the Unmanned Aircraft Program Office. The UAPO responded by advising they are waiting for clarification from FAA’s legal staff. It is clear to us that this Act reflects the view that aeromodeling is a relatively harmless activity and expresses Congress’ recognition of the level of safety the community has achieved through voluntary compliance with a community-based set of safety guidelines. As we move forward we will seek a viable means of enacting this legislative provision and establishing a mutually agreed upon set of criteria to ensure the continued safe operation of model aircraft in the national airspace.
Mr. McGraw’s mention of a 400’ ceiling is somewhat of a carryover from the guidelines established in AC 91-57 and has been FAA’s premise in terms of separating small UAS from the manned aircraft environment. During the crafting of the language in the MA amendment to the reauthorization bill the inclusion of a 400’ criteria was considered. However, AMA resisted this limitation with the belief that it is overreaching, unnecessary and potentially detrimental to the hobby. Ultimately the congressional leadership agreed with the AMA and elected not to include this restriction as part of the minimum safety criteria stated in the Bill.
AMA’s 75 years of experience tells us that MA operations above 400’ pose little to no risk to the manned aircraft community. The only time this activity is of concern is when model aircraft are operated in close proximity to airports. As such, AMA stands by its 3mi/400’ safety criteria established in the AMA National Safety Code. Though there are other mitigation measures that may need to be considered, AMA will continue to advocate to maintain the aeromodeling community’s access to the national airspace.
To learn more about the efforts of AMA’s Government relations page please visit our website, https://www.modelaircraft.org/aboutama/gov.aspx.