FAA extends Interpretive Rule comment period

At the request of the AMA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a 60-day extension to the public comment period (Docket No. FAA-2014-0396) for FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft established by Congress as part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The 60-day extension establishes the new deadline for comments as September 23, 2014.

In the Department of Transportation-FAA notice due to publish in the Federal Register Friday, 7/25, the FAA noted the following…

On July 16, 2014, the Academy of Model Aeronautics submitted a request to extend the comment period by 60 days, citing the need to “educate the aeromodeling community, clarify the issues, and respond to questions regarding the impact that the interpretive rule has on various aspects of the modeling activity.” The FAA agrees that additional time for the submission of comments would be helpful, and therefore has decided to extend the comment period until September 23, 2014. The FAA expects that the additional time for comments will allow the affected community to prepare meaningful comments which will help the FAA to determine what clarifications to the interpretation may be necessary.”

Click the links below to view AMA’s request and the DOT notice…

AMA’s Request for an Extension to the Comment Period

DOT/FAA’s Notice Granting a 60-day Extension

Rich Hanson
AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs


  1. Thank you, AMA, for continuing to support our hobby by securing the 60 day comment period extension. Now, as a long time modeler and AMA member, I encourage everyone who has not done so to comment on the FAA Interpretive Rule. Follow the AMA’s guidance and respond to specific areas of concern, but try to do so in your own words because that will have more impact than copying the AMA’s. As of today, July 24, the Regulations website reports 28,240 comments submitted with 779 reviewed and posted so far. I have reviewed a large sample of the posted comments and noted that some are just rants against the FAA or Government. Such comments do not support the AMA’s or our position as modelers on the Rule’s details. The AMA membership is around 160,000 so let’s make that our goal for comments.

  2. OK, I sent a comment (still under review)asking about the fluctuating total comment count. Got the answer from the Regulations help page. FAA was in process of deleting 14,799 duplicate copies of the nonspecific comment “DONT BAN FPV OR COMMERCIAL UNMANNED VEHICLES”. Come on people, the Interpretive Rule instructions ask for specific comments and suggestions on parts of the rule. Don’t be lazy if you really want to help the AMA protect our hobby/sport. Use the AMA guidelines plus your own words.

  3. I am glad they are looking into this more – because quite frankly I am opposed to FPV flying of drones. I think they can be used as a huge invasion of privacy. I live by the park and twice now I have seen drones flying over my backyard with cameras – almost like they are looking for people in backyard (maybe sunbathers) and/or looking for valuable to steal. If I see another one I will be pulling out my pellet gun and doing some target practice. While they may have valuable uses, my opinion is that the few who use them incorrectly are going to cause problems. Already there have been issues in national parks and also the idiot flying close to the aircraft trying to fight the CA wildfires simply to take pictures of the fires. I simply feel the potential for abuse is quite high and our privacy is already being taken away in many other instances – so having a easy to fly, easy to maneuver and mostly silent drone with a camera snooping in my backyard should be banned. So I hope the FAA does exactly that. Or perhaps levies thousand $$ fines to anyone caught taking pictures or flying where they shouldn’t be. Make it a felony to photograph any person on their private property. That should solve the problem.

    1. @Dave High – Nothing you describe about FPV it allowed under AMA rules, and it sure isn’t protected by the Special Rule. The FAA can —and should— prosecute this misbehavior. You seem to be mistaking the object with irresponsible use, and in favor of prohibiting a class of model aircraft while ignoring unlawful operators.

      Should park flyer aircraft be banned because some yokel ‘buzzes” pets with one in the local park? There are ways to get a handle on problem flyers, but prohibition has always been the least effective way and guarantees anyone using one is an ‘outlaw’.

      1. All – Thank you for the replies to my post a few weeks ago. Honestly I thought I was posting on our club site. I didnt realize it was on the AMA blog (guess that is what happens when you are on your computer when you are tired! :-)). My comments were more directed at my club members vs. the AMA members at large. I agree that Drones in and of themselves should not be banned. Similar to the gun debate – there are millions of responsible gun owners so a few idiots shouldnt screw it up for everyone. I dont know the solution – but I feel the idiots ARE going to ruin it for everyone. Nearly every day in the news you see of someone doing something stupid with a drone. They are simply too easy to fly. They require no skill. They are not like a plane or a heli where a small group of people practice for hours and hours to make them fly. Anyone can go to a hobby store, buy a drone, and be flying in a matter of minutes – and thus opens up Pandoras Box. If drones required the skill level of a helicopter this would not be an issue because the number of pilots would be very, very small. Anyway, my point was that there is a huge potential for misuse on these drones which the AMA and FAA need to consider. Make misuse of a drone a felony and it could solve the problem. Like the guy who lost his drone in a million year old geyser at Yellowstone – throw his stupid butt in jail for 30 years and others might think twice about using drones where they are banned. Cheers

    2. Surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with a lot of what you say. I think unknowingly you actually support what should be happening … that being take action against those who are not following existing rules and laws. We don’t need new regulations; save maybe a clear definition of the difference between drone and model aircraft.

      It is seemingly simple, but the advent of consumer level FPV has blurred the dividing line even to us in the hobby. While I don’t care for the line-of-site limitation the AMA rules currently specify … I am inclined to think that it might be the best dividing line we have. 5000ft next to a full-scale aircraft is NOT line of site and NOT a model aircraft. Park flying is model aircraft; but IMHO not within safety guidelines unless there is a designated safety zone. Flying around a non-participating residence is clearly unacceptable as well.

    3. So if the FAA took your gun away that you want to shoot the drone out of the sky with just because someone takes a high power rifle and shoots a plane down that is taking off and kills several people then we all loose our guns, This is crazy and the exact thing they want to do to us with the drones because a few people use them incorrectly. Punish the people that brake the law not the ones that do not…

    4. Dave, if they followed your logic then they should ban all cell phones with cameras. And don’t forget those long telephoto lenses. Also, no more Facebook, Google, or the Internet. Someone hiding in the bushes with a camera is much stealthier than someone flying a “drone” over your property. And don’t forget the person on the rooftop a few houses down with the telephoto lens looking into your backyard. My point is, you don’t ban the product; you deal with each violator individually. There are already privacy laws in place. The wonderful things this technology can do for us as a society far outweigh what a few idiots might do with it. You’ll always have those who abuse something so it’s wrong to punish those who use it responsibly. Let’s ban alcohol so no one will drive drunk. Let’s modify all vehicles so they can’t exceed a specific speed. Let’s ban junkfood so everyone will be healthy. It’s silly when you think about the knee-jerk reactions. If “drones” were banned, those who want to do bad things will still do bad things with them yet if a child is lost in a field, no one with a “drone” would be allowed to help find them. Throwing a blanket ban on the technology is not the right way to approach it.

  4. high Dave, & everyone else,
    There are hundreds of legitimate uses for this technology and it is silly to go for a total ban based on the fractional fear that someone might use it to invade someone else\’s privacy. There are so, so many ways to do that already so banning \”drones\” will not fix it. My comment to the FAA included that when it gets to the point that anyone is using or doing anything that is causing a violation of the rights of another person, it is not the device being used but the person doing the violating that is the problem. Guns, binoculars, cars, etc. can all be abused or used with respect for other people.

  5. Indeed heavy fines should stop them and by all means knock it out of the sky if possible and confiscate it. What will these idiots do when you threaten to call the police. And by the way, I fly these drones so I do not want this hobby banned. Hope to do commercial photography someday. I also fly large cargo Jets. Xx2gPR

  6. They should get rid of cameras not flying helicopters a or airplanes! I don’t have much in life left, but flying helis gives me something to look forward too!

  7. I am a newbie here – I just joined the AMA a couple of weeks ago – for the simple reason that I wanted to join a community of citizens who are experienced with the model aircraft hobby. This is something I got interested in very recently and know nothing about. I joined so I could get answers to and advice about building and flying a multi-rotor. So wouldn’t you know that as soon as I make my investments and order all the parts to do my build, I find out about this FAA stuff going on – that they are proposing to effectively put the lid on my dreams of flying FPV. Well, I intend to fight back and do my best to argue in favor of not banning FPV. I am a senior, I have COPD and don’t get around very well, and I am looking forward to seeing the world from a bird’s eye perspective – you know, a new lease on life, a new type of freedom – a word the FAA should take to heart when it comes to figuring all this out. I have downloaded the Public Law 112–95 from regulations.gov and have begun the process of examining its contents. I then intend to weigh the law against the FAA’s interpretation. Having spent the first twenty-five percent of my career as a government employee, I understand the thinking, no, the process, that goes on when bureaucracies engage in in the execution of their mission. I will put together a comment to submit to the FAA in time for their deadline, their new deadline (thanks AMA!). Here, I would add one suggestion for all of you: I implore all of you who intend to comment to the FAA about their interpretation to do one extremely important thing when you submit your comment: you MUST “cc:” your President, your Senator, and your House Representative. Their email addresses are a snap to find, the extra attention your comment will garner is worth the effort, and the leverage imbued to your comment is priceless.

  8. If we are to have drones then there must be some form of regulation. I live in Central Wisconsin in a very rural and agricultural area. I would enjoy the ability to be able to film the wooded areas and by lakes for wildlife, etc. I would be happy to pay an extra fee for my membership to cover the endorsement of a drone. We should be tested for its use just as we are for a drivers license. I am a truck driver and I am required to have endorsements for different levels of driving. Technology has advanced faster than many of us have the ability to comprehend. Those who elect not to join the AMA and have a “drone” endorsement should be treated the same as driving without a license. Or for fishing for trout without a trout stamp on your fishing license.

  9. As an AMA member for forty years, my opinion is the AMA has NO buisiness trying to protect or add the fpv drones to our membership. There are WAY too many people flying them who don’t care one bit about model airplanes/ helis/cars/boats. We should only be concerned about “line of sight” models. I wish I could say my point as well as Bob Violet did, I agree with him 100%

  10. I too am glad that this is being reviewed further, but for much different reasons that Mr. High. I see this like many other recent pieces of legislation and executive orders that have been signed that tend to deal with the symptoms, not with the problems and holding people accountable. There are significant benefits to UAVs and FPV. We are using them in search and rescue, just as one huge example. As you have seen in the news, others who use them in a commercial setting for SAR, have already been cited for it. Now they are trying to take away the hobby aspect of it, leaving us with little room to maneuver legally. We ALL need to understand UAV/FPV is a new technology and not something that can be easily filed in the same classification as other Radio Controlled aircraft. Instead of Banning UAV’s and FPV, set limitations commensurate with those being identified with automated flight (possibly including special operator licensing), understanding the nuances of SAR use and other life safety benefits, then hold the operators to those (reasonable)restrictions. Do not ban the technology based on someone’s misuse of the equipment. If that were true of all situations, there would be no cars since people have used them in performing crimes, including murder. Let’s make sure the FAA and the government understand that we acknowledge there needs to be limits, but it is not something that be easily assessed without significant research and discussion.

  11. I totally agree that FPV for snooping purposes should be banned. Any “unlawful” use of FPV and the proximity of the drone to commercial aircraft should be heavily fined. Flights of drones by pilots that do not adhere to AMA rules will cause the hobby to suffer greatly. My concern is how to regulate those pilots that will not follow the rules. A total ban on all model aircraft is counter productive. The hobby is more than just toys, it provides a platform for education in the field of aeronautics and propulsion. Many of todays commercial and military pilots began with ‘model’ aircraft. To group all model pilots with those causing problems would be a disaster. I would futher state, those drone pilots that fly in restricted airspace, should be not only fined but put in jail. Taking video is one thing but endangering the lives of passengers on commercial flights goes beyond the hobby.
    To those empowered with the task of determining a ‘solution’ to this problem, I commend you. This is an outgrowth of technology that can not be blanketly stopped and your task is not easy to complete. I hope the continued communication between the AMA and FAA, will bring about a viable alternative to a complete ban on model aviation.

  12. It seems to me having the FAA police the model aircraft space because someone “might” violate peoples privacy is a bit like calling the US Justice Department to report your neighbors stereo is always too loud after midnight. There are already local and state laws in place to protect peoples privacy rights and if they feel violated, they can call the police. Or better yet, go find the pilot and ask him to stop what he is doing. Since most multi-rotor aircraft have a flight time of 9 minutes or less chances are better than 95% the pilot is less than 1000 feet away. To suggest we need a federal agency for this level of “behaviour control” is not well thought out.

    I have been flying airplanes and multi-rotor copters for years and FPV aircraft since you could get the gear. Being a member of the AMA, my first priority is and has always been safety. So, when at a sanctioned field I always adhere strictly to AMA and local rules and when outside a sanctioned field I still adhere to those rules where they apply. I never fly over people, city streets, highways or areas I cannot retrieve my gear. All the model aircraft pilots I fly and have flown with approach the hobby this way and we will always stop someone who doesn’t.

    In my experience I have never met or seen anyone who has or would knowingly violate anyones privacy and wonder how often this actually occurs. This brings the question, is the FAA inventing legislation for a perceived issue that hasn’t actually, factually been measured? These aircraft are not inexpensive and when you get to the level where you are flying FPV your costs are substantially higher. Add to this the cost of a camera which has zoom in/out capability (GoPro’s do not) and the cost gets significantly higher due to the fact an inexpensive multirotor will not carry this kind of payload. The point here is, if someone actually intended to violate privacy laws wouldn’t they simply attach their camera to a long stick (or as already posted, climb a tree) long before spending the money and enormous amount of time required to get proficient with this technology.

    I agree the FAA is the governing agency that is to keep our airspace safe for all traffic public and private. I also think there should be governance of local airspace but I am not convinced this is or should be entirely the responsibility of the FAA. It seems it could be better to use local ordinace and local authorities for this because they are best equiped to deal with a problem quickly and effectively.

    Lastly, anyone suggesting they might shoot these down speaks volumes to their knowledge of the hobby, the technology and general principles of public safety.

  13. I am a lifetime modeler, started with my Dad as a vry young boy when he flew UC and the very first escarpment radio gear in the early 50’s. I love to build and fly scale airplanes of all kinds.
    Here is my issue with the FPV/Drone issue. First the things take off and land without much input, they can go to fixed way points and return home. This has not a single thing to do with model aviation where the pilot is in command of the airframe and it is within sight at the proper altitude. I watched the news a couple of night ago and a commercial airline pilot saw a drone on approach. This is going to kill out hobby because there are those who having no bad intentions just arent smart enough to opertate the drones they fly. I watch guys sit under a hood, they really dont know where the drone is even.
    THis makes no sense, please put this FPV business in a new category and seperate the FPV group from the RC group.
    No to drones, and I dont like government intervention in anything but to protect my ability to fly real scale airplanes I am against drones.

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