AMA Files Petition for Review of FAA’s Interpretive Rule

Today the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) filed a Petition for Review in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit challenging the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft published in the Federal Register on June 25, 2014.

The AMA believes that the FAA’s Interpretive Rule is contrary to the text and intent of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95, and violates Congress’ specific prohibition on any new rules or regulations regarding model aircraft that are operated pursuant to a community-based organization’s standards. The FAA’s purported interpretation effectively establishes an array of new regulations that model aircraft enthusiasts have never been subject to in the past, and poses an immediate and direct hardship on model aviation.

“Model aviation is a wholesome family recreational and educational activity,” said AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson. “Aeromodeling has been a steppingstone to careers in aviation and aerospace for many young people in this country, and AMA is concerned that the FAA’s interpretation of the law will diminish our ability to continue to be the pipeline for young talent that will become the next generation of engineers this country so sorely needs.”

Although AMA has worked cooperatively with the FAA in the past, and hopes to continue to do so, the AMA has filed its petition for review within 60 days of the issuance of the FAA interpretation, by necessity, in order to assert its legal rights.

“The AMA has worked collaboratively and in good faith with the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office for many years and will continue to do so as we attempt to work through our differences concerning the interpretive rule,” said AMA President Bob Brown.

To learn more about the AMA’s advocacy efforts, and how you can help, visit:

View the full press release online:


    1. While the FAA/Obama are worried about a Toy Drone Chem/Terrorist attack, eleven (11) Jet Airliners were stolen from Libya []. They need to get their HEADS out of the sand before our major cities get hit (NBC’s)…

  1. I was going to call to ask if you had Washington legal assistance but it sure looks like you do. You have to fight bureaucracy with their own rules or your plea gets rejected. The FAA will claim with a straight face that they are following Congress’ intent to the letter and you have to show they’re not. Way to go AMA!

  2. Guys,
    This is exactly why I tried to warn folks about adding FPV to AMA. I knew this would happen and they will not stop until we are messed up. Why? Because like it or not FPV is NOT the same sport as everyday fliers. There is too much different and inherantly dangerous about flying RC planes with remote video. THere are already many reports of people abusing this technology and when someone finally does fly a FPV into a plane, a vehicle or building with explosives attached we are done for as a group and r/c flying will be a thing of the past. For you guys that want FPV… Fine… start your own clubs and your own version of our AMA. Stop complaining about us not wanting you here. There were real reasons for not wanting your sport to merge with ours. Now we are beginning to see just how deeply we are going to be messed up because of your sport. Please AMA, in addition to filing suits, pay attention and meet to reject allowing FPV to be a part of our club and stand fast or we will all go down the drain because of the few that want to fly that way. Please,,, as an institution and member you know we do NOT have the resources to do a long term battle with the FAA. Nobody does and that is a sad fact as well. As bad as it seems they do have a point here when FPV is involved.
    A worried member

    1. Dave I completely disagree with you.

      First, as a group we should stand behind all model aviation activity even if you personally don’t like it. By your logic we should ban free flight and model rockets too, without the ability to control where they go its only a matter of time before one collides with a real airplane! /sarc

      Second, FPV can be done safely and poses no new risk to real aircraft. Think about it for a moment, with some logic instead of misplaced emotions. I can fly my line-of-sight RC aircraft into a real airplane just as easy as a FPV aircraft.

      Third, its the idiot, NON-AMA members, who are doing stupid things that will lead to increased regulation. Excluding any single group only ensures that there will be more idiots out there. As a community we should work to bring more model aviators into the AMA not exclude certain groups.

      1. Hello, I hate to say it, but narrow minded people like this are the problem. I must say that If FPV is done in the right way, in my OPINION, It is safer than line of site flying. I say this because I believe the “right” way to do FPV is with a properly set up and tuned flight controller, with a “return to home” function in case of the loss of ANY video, control, or telemetry signal, or even panic on the pilots part, as a STANDARD requirement for flying FPV.
        Yes, things fail on FPV planes, which is Murphy’s law, but things failed on a hundred pound B-29 that flew into a luckily unoccupied tent at a fly in a few months ago too.
        Should it be regulated? As a “separate” part of the hobby? Yes, should a person need a special sign off like turbines in model aircraft? Absolutely… Look the FAA wants to regulate it because it is going to take a risk of a fine able offense to keep the idiots out there from flying phantoms into buildings in NYC, or a pilot of an octocopter from flying over a crowd.
        FPV is not going away because corps like Google and Disney are investing in it. We just need to band together to try to prevent citizens from loosing the right to practice FPV in a safe and logical manor if they wish, in a world of ever increasing loss of rights, and personal sovereignties…

      2. We should take a lesson from the Amateur Radio Community. Have Model Aviation Clubs administer examinations, that will test the knowledge of the person wanting to fly airplanes or FPV’s. Setup different levels of examinations (ie. Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced). Based on the ability to pass each exam level, will give a person more privileges to fly more complicated model aircraft or FPV’s. This would have to be government regulated, like the FCC does with Amateur Radio, but there would be no anonymity for the person flying the model aircraft/FPV. Which is a good thing. People would be more conscious of where and how they fly their aircraft, because there would be consequences for the person if they crash their aircraft. Plus, this would make sure everyone is educated to current laws and proper flying procedures.

      3. No It isn\’t safer than line of sight flying. Regular model builders and flyers didn\’t have any friction with the FAA until these \”camera platforms\” started to proliferate along with their \”hey wouldn\’t it be cool if we buzzed the town\” or the \”lets see how high and far away we can fly\” type of operators. Model flying enthusiasts safely enjoy their flying at a fixed site where altitude maximums have been established and safety rules are in place. Rotor drones with cameras are used for sight seeing expeditions and now we have to deal with the heat from an activity that has very little to do with miniature airplanes.

      4. So, only people with AMA card are responsible flyers?
        You must be a new to r/c .
        There are some people that hold a AMA card and I won’t fly with them, and I know a lot of people who are not AMA card holders that I will fly with!

    2. Many (not all) of the negative articles have been UAS vehicles NOT, I REPEAT NOT, flying via FPV. They were just knuckleheads flying them in inappropriate places with a camera onboard. They were flying them line of sight trying to get cool video.

      The AMA is absolutely correct in trying to fight the FAA on all of this.

      No amount of laws will prevent some nutcase from doing something bad.

    3. Good idea, Dave. Let’s divide up into factions. That’ll be our salvation. AMA’s endorsement of FPV or not will have no bearing on whether or not a terrorist uses FPV to commit an act of terrorism. If we don’t fight the FAA long-term, who will?

    4. I agree wholeheartedly. If there is a way to like your comment, I would. I believe one type of aircraft, and one company in particular DJI is responsible for putting RTF technology in the hands of people who Jane no business flying. They do not build aircraft, or fly for leisure. They just want to fly fpv and the possibilities for an incident to occur are too great. Many of these DJI owners do not know what the AMA is, and do not pay into it. Ban multi-rotors, and ban fpv. Leave helicopters and airplanes alone. None of this was going on before multi-rotors were commercially available.

      1. To Dave M and Justin C. I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Justin, “Ban muti-rotors?” I am a card carrying AMA member. I build multi-rotors from scratch. I make them from my own designs on CAD, on my own work bench using my skills of electronics and engineering. I do not fly over populated areas, I do not fly over buildings and freeways. I fly line of site below 200 feet. The only private land I fly over is my own property, never my neighbors’. I pay my AMA fees. I have my AMA number printed on my multi-rotor and a phone number. I fly safe and I follow rules. and yes, I have a camera on my multi-rotor. But i don’t fly with a camera when I am flying in my backyard in respect of my neighbors’ privacy.

        You want to ban me?
        The problem with the FAA interpretation is that it is the LAZY way out. Instead of working – “working” being the key word – on a creative and productive solution about outlaws flying FPV, they just put a blanket “ban” on everything. For those … bureaucrats sitting in the FAA it is much easier to just say ban everything than to actually gather information, collect data, read through case studies, reading through incident reports, finding out who was really involved in bad situations and their affiliations (typically boneheads who bought a quad copter and never even heard of AMA). Then have productive dialog with AMA. No rather than do all that productive work to create a set of rules that make sense, they take the easy way out and say BAN EVERYTHING…

    5. I agree with Dave 100%. You wanna fly from the cockpit? Go get a pilots license. And if I may – AMA’s making a BIG mistake by embracing the cult of quadcopters and the like. These contrivances are models of nothing. Beyond the toy-time aura and the challenge of programming them, they’re an invitation for scrutiny and crackdown in the myriad privacy bru-ha-has that are CERTAIN to result from these camera platforms. And when the FAA or homeland security decides to come calling, I guarantee you they won’t care much about your FAA membership or your supposed innocence. Trespassed parties are only gonna have deep pockets in focus. Yet here we are – pushing them hot and heavy on every other page of Model Aviation.

      1. Yep get rid of this multi rotors and just get back to basics just the love and joy of flying r.c
        Bob the skyhawk

        1. Hey Bob, are you saying multirotor pilots don’t have the “love and joy of flying?” That if a person is flying a multirotor, they are not enjoying what they are doing? How about we ban those model airplanes with real jet engines that go over 200 mph because they make too much noise and, lets be honest, those are a lot more dangerous than my quadcopter with 8″ props. Can we ban 450 and larger RC Helicopters too? because I once watched one of those being flown in a public park and crash near people. I personally had a nitro engine RC helicopter close by have catastrophic main rotor failure and one main blade came within 2 feet of hitting me. I would much rather get hit by a multirotor’s blades than by the main blades of a 450 model helicopter. I’m being sarcastic of course. I don’t really want to ban, get rid of, limit the use of medium to large model helicopters or RC planes with real jet engines. I just don’t appreciate negative non-constructive comments about getting rid of one aspect of our hobby because it’s not what you do. Or making overgeneralized assumptions about how multirotor operators do not have the joy and the love of flying. How about we collectively be open-minded and give the FAA a well thought out, constructive, affirmative solution to everyone’s concerns. Because the moment we as a group turn on each other, it will be a cascade effect of limitations and regulations that will remove the love and joy of flying for EVERYONE.

    6. You’ve made 200% sense with your presentation….You think the AMA highers will pay mind to it?

      1. btw the way…there’s the wacko with an FPV platform tried taking pics of the aerial forest fire duster aircraft just a short time ago. He stopped their ops by being in the flight path of the dusters……nope stuff like this is out and will never end….

    7. Even though I like the idea of flying FPV it is a platform that can be too easily adapted to do harm. It needs it own governing body so it can’t hide within the operating guidelines of the AMA which are defined under our specific mode of operation. That being line of sight, limited range and altitude. Might I suggest the FPVMA as an start?

    8. The way the FAA will dismantle the AMA is to divide it, once they get support to ban one type of flying then they will go to the next, and the next. The NRA should be a good example of what to do, not all of the members support all of NRA’s stands but they stand behind them.
      First it will be FPV, and next will be large flying aircraft. After all I could put explosives on it and pose a terrorist threat. Get your act together and stick together, or they will ban this and so on. The only way we still have the 2nd amendment is the gun groups stick together.
      I am willing to die to protect your freedoms, that is the test of true Freedom. Just because a small group misuses something do not ban it, punish the offender not everyone.

    9. In regards to your post I would have to say you are not helping yourself or others by the statements you have made. Also this situation is mutch bigger than what you believe . It would have been better not to have commented at all !!!

    10. … Lots of nice, older gentleman, who I respect, do make up my club. They fly their large gassers while I and my friend fly little foamies. They don’t whine and complain about our planes and how we’re gonna crash into them, or how we fly too fast. They are actually interested enough to ask us about them, and even have us build foamies for them to try themselves. If we came in with FPV gear, they would probably be trying that out too, not shunning us and telling us how it’s going to kill the hobby.

      If you do chop off FPV and the FAA goes after another segment of the hobby, what then? You just keep lobbing off parts of our hobby to keep them happy? We need to band together, not point fingers or shove people under the bus. How about you support what the AMA is doing to protect our right to fly, rather than running your mouth about what you obviously have no clue about.

      A gracious member,

    11. In my opinion and a lot of other AMA members it lies directly on the AMA for promoting 10000 dollar FPV aircraft. These are not park fliers or RC planes. Stop taking advertising from companies that sell this stuff.

      1. AMA promoting 10,000 dollar FPV aircraft? … The AMA is doing nothing wrong trying to protect everyone.

  3. Who made this decision to sue the FAA? Bob Brown? The Executive Council did not.

  4. What effect does this have on making comments at (Not that it matters at this moment, their website of offline) Should we continue to comment? Some clarification of where us regular folks stand would be appreciated. Also an explanation of what the outcomes would or could be might help a bit too.

  5. Thank you. Keep applying pressure. I live in the small town of Osceola Missouri. A representative from Vicky Hartzler held a “Listening Post” in our county Library last week. I had three issues to discuss and this issue took up the majority of my time. I had him mostly to myself and took over thirty minutes emphasizing the impact the FAA was having on the hobby. Your explanation of the FAA’s impact to our hobby (Understanding the FAA’s Interpretation of the Rule and How to Comment) was very helpful and I provided a highlighted copy to the representative. Farming is big in this area and one of the County Commissioners came in during my discussion. He could not believe that a farmer could be in violation of the FAA for taking video of his fields to help in managing his crops. I hope many people are taking advantage of the congressional break to meet with their representative and get their voice heard.

  6. Dave Moody, while the interpretive ruling has already relegated FPV flying effectively illegal, it has little direct effect on conventional model aircraft (yet). Yes, it appears the FAA is setting themselves up to exert more control over RC planes en masse, but it is highly, HIGHLY doubtful – all but impossible to imagine – that flying model aircraft will ever be made entirely illegal, as well. I CAN, however, see the potential for more formal, tighter regulation on the hobby, which is less than desirable – worrying, even. Still, I find your argument ludicrous. That some nut might, hypothetically, crash a homemade militarized drone into a building has little bearing on the matter of hobby flying. (Are terrorists AMA members now?) It could be used as a convenient foundation by the FAA to spread panic and enact further regulation, of course, but would that be any different whether the AMA did not support all modes of flying model craft?

    Please consider that the technology has come to fruition and would have penetrated public discourse, even without AMA’s involvement with respect to FPV and autonomous vehicles. This is just the nature of an abusive bureaucracy in this climate of fear. And it’s exactly why the AMA wisely chose (albeit after some patient introspection) to back the new technologies, given that unity of factions behind a single cause will always outweigh those of fragmented, disparate voices, that serve only to generate noise. Speaking as a member of an AMA-sanctioned club and consummate rule-follower, I feel the greatest threats are two-fold:

    1) Continuance of a diminishingly small number of rebels, who fly FPV outside of AMA membership and rules, guidelines, and the like unsafely, risking accidents and incidents that garner negative attention for all RC flight. These people must be either reigned into the fold (i.e. join the AMA) and taught the importance of the rules or stigmatized to the point of irrelevancy.

    2) Fight the power! Support the continued legal battles against this sort of overbearing legislation. Also, continue to educate the public-at-large on the distinctions between Air Force missile-bearing drones, large commercial UAS’, and lightweight models with hobby-grade guidance and video systems.

    The AMA is right on top of doing everything it can, but the AMA IS its members. Rather than working to split its membership from the inside, I would humbly suggest that you consider the repercussions, especially given that we’re already where we are. We have to work with what we have now. It’s far too late in the game to even consider what you’re demanding as far as fighting FPV, et al. And it would not have been a smart move to begin with.

    1. FPV is already becoming dangerous. At the last professional football game I attended in Charlotte some nut was flying FOV at night just outside the confines of the stadium bowl. All the while the police helicopters were patrolling as they usually are. This was reported and basically there was no legal authority to do anything to the guy. It’s this kind of stupidity that AMA should shy away from.

  7. While the recent FAA interpretation is almost certainly against the express wish of Congress, the only PART of the new interpretation I have problems with is giving airport control towers the ability to shutdown all flying within 5 miles of any airport. THAT will shut down probably the majority of the sanctioned fields and park fields in the country. As for FPV, I couldn’t care less as I’ve *NEVER* seen an AMA member (with one lone exception) even obeying the AMA’s CURRENT guidelines on fpv flight (with that one exception, they NEVER have spotters). Flying essentially beyond LOS (which most fpv’ers do, at least almost all the multirotor flyers) IS dangerous and will almost certainly be made illegal, eventually. Those folks have no business in our hobby, and cause 99% of the problem.

  8. Like it or not, FPV is the future of the hobby. The AMA is right to take a stand here and they have my full support (and the full support of the FPV community).

    1. … FPV is not the “future of the hobby” It may be a part of the future of the hobby but it has nothing to do with what I personally enjoy about building and operating miniature airplanes.

  9. I think the special rule for model aircraft was not to exempt model aircraft from regulations, only to separate model aircraft from UAV aircraft regulations. The safety risks I’ve seen from my 2 years in the hobby are first, having a fellow modeler who can’t control his plane well enough run a plane into me on the flight line. Second, the county built a bike path 150ft near the runway at a club I used to be a member of and people continue to fly there regardless of the safety risk to the public.

  10. I’d like to see the comparison that the FAA has to bird strikes and model aircrafts.

    “In the FAA Interpretation of Special Rule for Model Aircraft the FAA is proposing a new set of rules to apply to model aircraft. In order to do so it miss-interprets specific Congressional direction to not “promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft”.

    The FAA does so by asserting, (without conducting, as required of it by statute, “all safety studies necessary to support the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.”) that model aircraft may “endanger” users of the NAS and people on the ground.

    If congress had intended for any expansion of FAA authority over model aircraft operations it would not have explicitly promulgated the “Statutory Requirements” in the Special Rule in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically to address the risks model aircraft may impose.

    For the FAA to propose new rules over the intent of Congress without evidence of any additional need is unwarranted.”

  11. Techno Tom, well said! I agree completely.
    Dave Moody, As Tom said, don\’t run scared because the power Nazis might notice you, stand up for your rights!

  12. Now, If you desanction the FPV (all modes) activities and leave them to commercial (agricultural), law enforcement, and survellance activities, the FAA may just leave well enough alone for the model activities inclusive in action for decades. As Many users of the aforementioned devices Will Not be members and adhere, you’ll continue to get the egg on the face if you continue to support that sector (FPV)!! You must negotiate to win some ground folks!!

  13. The government will not stop interfering with the public until the public stops government,

  14. I will continue to fly my sailplane safely no matter what they decide, period. Come and arrest me

  15. There has already been one plot thwarted where a person was planning to fly some
    explosive loaded EDFs into the Capitol Building. Fortunately, the person in question made the mistake of getting FBI under cover agents as partners. There’s already enough
    limiting rules on the Federal, State, and local levels without additional heat from the FAA.

  16. AMA should get out of the FPV Business. It should be outlawed by all traditional RC Flyers. Leave us alone with our usual Visual Flying pursuits. Leave FPV to Governments and Terrorists.

  17. Leave FPV alone. It should be outlawed by all except Governments and Outlaw Terrorist Groups.

  18. I am in general agreement with the AMA’s stance on this issue. However, it seems to me that the AMA overstepped when it OK’d FPV flying with a spotter. The definition of model aircraft in the rule is quite clear: that model aircraft are to be operated within line of sight of the operator. I do think this should be allowed, but according to the rule’s definition, it clearly is not. It seems to me that the AMA should be working on Congress to modify the definition, or modify the rule to allow FPV flying with a spotter. AMA’s current reasoning arguing to allow this is a stretch, in my opinion.

  19. Good remarks re AMA and FPV. AMA has for some time now been going down a road that will surely end badly. Fighting FAA will be a disaster for AMA. Better to have AMA acknowledge the threats presented by FPV and denounce openly each and every reckless event instead of just covering up dangerous FPV use by trying to \” bring them into the fold \”. The activity lends itself to recklessness because it take so little knowledge and skill.

  20. Now is the time to stick together. Trying to survive by throwing FPV to the “wolves” will only slow down the beast, he”ll be back for the rest of us. I am not an FPVer, but I may wish to be in the future . Let us think before throwing someone else “under the bus”.

  21. I think AMA’s assertion of its right to Petition for Review of FAA’s Interpretive Rule is the right course of action. I further believe, the FAA’s strategy of separating commercial operation of UAV’s from Hobby usage is correct. Further I think AMA should consider a compromise on FPV’s where a pilot at an AMA club field will be allowed usage of goggles WITH a co-pilot who maintains line of sight. I think that compromise would be in the spirit of current modeling practice at AMA fields.

    1. Paul — well put — I concur entirely.
      Lets bring sensible, safe FPV into the “hobby” fold, and allow commercial operators to negotiate what rules they can (and self insure)

  22. If it wasn’t for FPV breathing new life into the hobby and new new member into the AMA there would not be many AMA members.

  23. While I applaud the AMA for fighting against the FAA’s attempts to control what we do, I must make some other comments regarding the FAA and even some of the comments I have seen in this forum.

    This is going to be a rather long message…so please buckle in and I beg of you, spend some time reading what I have to say.

    When I first decided to get into flying a UAV I started looking into the laws (if any) that might regulate my commercial use of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. I came across information that talked about the FAA saying that they had jurisdiction etc. I very rarely just take someone else’s word for what I am going to believe, without doing at least a modicum of research on the subject. I approached the FAA’s Interpretive Rule with the same gusto. After about 20 minutes worth of research, this is what I came up with…..and I found it all on the FAA’s website.

    The first point has to do with a comment from the FAA website that talks about Navigable Airspace, and I quote: “The safe and efficient use of navigable airspace is one of our primary objectives.”

    Well, just what is “navigable airspace”? Quote: “The navigable airspace is a limited national resource that Congress has charged the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to administer in the public interest as necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and its efficient use.”

    Okay, so that all sounds good. So here is the actual definition. Quote: “Navigable airspace” is airspace at or above the minimum altitudes of flight prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulations, and must include airspace needed to ensure safety in the takeoff and landing of aircraft. By policy, the term airspace above minimum altitudes of flight” is interpreted to mean airspace at or above minimum flight altitudes.”

    So what are these pesky little “minimum altitudes of flight” they’re talking about? Here’s the explanation via the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

    §91.119 Minimum safe altitudes: General.
    Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:

    (a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.

    (b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.

    (c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.

    (d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface—

    (1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and

    (2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.

    So, in summary… the FAA is charged with the “safe and efficient use of navigable airspace.” After all, it’s one of their “primary objectives.” Navigable airspace is airspace that is at or above the minimum altitudes of flight. Judging by the CFR 91.119, the absolute minimum altitude listed is 500 ft. above the surface of an open area and 1,000 ft in congested areas. That means, from what I’m reading anyway, that the FAA doesn’t have any JURISDICTION anywhere under 500 ft in open areas and 1,000 ft in congested areas (like around airports, cities, parks, housing areas)

    If a powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph C…then why can’t we fly our UAVs in that same airspace?

    Recently a Federal Judge with the NTSB told the FAA ruled that there are no laws against flying a drone commercially. So between that, and what I just spoke about above, that should be enough to shut down the FAA from trying to force us not to fly commercially.

    For the FAA to decide that we will have to have some kind of license or to ban commercial use, period…. well they are going to have one hell of a time getting that done. From Class C all the way down to Class G airspace, the FAA has no specific requirement for Minimum Pilot Certification. For Class E & G airspace, there is no specific requirement on the type of equipment that can be flown in that airspace! Which means that for them to attack ONLY UAV pilots and tell us we can’t fly there…they are going to have to totally rebuild their policies and rules.

    It is my contention that the AMA needs to fight this case on the basis that the FAA simply does not have the jurisdiction to regulate our industry, and that if they do regulate it they are violating their own rules.

    1. Marc –
      Your basic logic fails:
      RE:”there are no laws against flying a drone commercially” — it is not illegal to shut down Times Square to have a party, but you DO need a permit (and you have to follow the rules to obtain, and operate within, that permit).
      Also: around airports, aircraft have to fly below 500 feet to land and take off, so the activities you describe are currently (logically) prohibited in those zones (you can look up the statute).

  24. Thank you Techno Tom. I was immediately put off by Dave’s argument, which is so flawed I hardly knew where to begin. Without addressing every single way this thinking is flawed you have hit the high points with your response. Dave, like many long term AMA members with different interests within the hobby, have often been resistant to the technological changes that have continued to advance our hobby. While I have no interest in flying gas fueled aircraft, I do not advocate for their demise or exclusion from the hobby. Every day, for decades, hundreds if not thousands of these potential “terrorist weapons” have taken to the skies, operating under 400 feet without incident. If someone enjoys flying FPV (following AMA guidelines, with a spotter) why should anyone object? We don’t ban automobiles, guns, chainsaws, or laserpointers, yet all have a potential for abuse. Educate. Sanction those who abuse the privilege. There are way too many bureaucrats trying to ban everything under the sun, often invoking terrorism as the reason. We don’t need to ban the tool or the hobby. Thanks for adding some common sense to the discussion!

  25. Thank you AMA. I have been a member for, well longer than I care to admit, and I have enjoyed the hobby/sport for many years. I have never seen anything the government got involved in that turned out beneficial for We the People. I am very happy that AMA has stepped up to correct this nonsense. We now have people that have no idea what R/C flying is about and are now making laws for things that they do not understand or know anything about. Maybe we need to keep the two FPB and normal R/C flying separate to some degree (?) Again, I am very glad the AMA is making and attempt to straiten out some of these laws that will place a terrible burden on the R/C hobby, if not totally destroy it they was we currently know it.

  26. I have watched our hobby evolve over the last 40 years, and most of that evolution has been good for the hobby. Unfortunately the FPV is not something that I support. If you want the “first person” experience, then you should learn to fly full scale and learn all the regulations and responsibility that go with it. I did so 35 years ago. That does not mean that I object to all of the uses of model aircraft with on-board cameras and even live feeds back to a base station. There are valid and useful ways to use this technology. Search and rescue are among those valid uses. But I don’t see FPV contributing to the hobby. It does not contribute to the understanding of aeronautics, scale models, or even basic flying. Instead it is changing the public view against us. For the good of the hobby perhaps this is one evolution we should not support.

    1. Yes, I totally agree and you’ve articulated it very well Robert. I am also very tired of being told that this is simply the evolution of new technology and I am some sort of anti tech fuddy duddy for opposing it, I don’t but if you want to participate in FPV form your own governing organization and take the regulatory focus with you and off of us normal builders and flyers.

  27. t is great that we have AMA for many reasons, it informs all of us on how to be a good modeler and follow basic rules that we may not realize is needed to protect our industry. We see many non members try to fly in very bad areas. We talk to them and mention AMA as a good resource to understand and learn about flying and the rules, we also offer to help them, if they come to the field or our flying sites.
    We all should get the flyers to join and understand AMA.
    I wish there was a way to be sure that every one who bought a model would first have to have a AMA card. It would help inform and keep the uninformed from ruining our hobbies. All the more reason to include FPV in AMA, some of the safety hints and flying hints were not at the top of my mind when I started with FPV, and I have been an AMA member for decades.
    I also question the supposed sightings by airline pilots, even the biggest Drones and planes are not possible to see 10 miles away when they flying at 2 to 300 miles an hour or more. And to avoid a Model or Quad in a 747 by swerving and changing course or altitude suddenly to avoid? You think the passengers would have made a comment just not the pilot. Sorry I don’t see that as being possible.
    But seeing videos of a quad falling down a tall building into the sidewalk or street? We really need to educate these people and not hold AMA accountable, unless the feds make it a requirement to sign a safety statement and get a AMA card before they can purchase anything.
    Even the airhog stuff at costco. I don’t beleive that is at all possible, but I am putting that our there anyway

  28. To Dave Moody –

    The real safety issue isn’t FPV. Yes, it is a different animal and brings different issues to the table, but so long as the people flying them follow common sense rules as published by the AMA, things will be fine.

    The real problem is people who have no connection with the hobby who go out and spend a few hundred dollars on a “camera platform” and then fly them without applying any common sense. The fly in ways that no AMA flyer would ever condone, and wind up flying into and injuring people.

    A terrorist flying a bomb-laden model aircraft into something and killing people would make getting a license to fly model aircraft really painfull. An idiot flying a camera-laden model aircraft – whether they are flying FPV or not – would make it impossible.

  29. I am conflicted at this point regarding support for FPV or not. But consider this – there are idiots that attach projectiles that are in violation of AMA rules to non-FPV aircraft, fly at a club field, and release them. Thankfully, their skills are so poor, nothing comes of it. A simple survey of youtube will find a number of these incidents. Therefore … is it FPV that is the problem, or in fact stupid people operating in our hobby? The counter argument is that quads and FPV come together to enable a higher degree of lunacy.
    My current thinking, which admittedly changes frequently right now, is that we (and I mean the membership of AMA), ought to go after lunies ourselves. Demonstrate that we care enough about our hobby to help enforce. Full scale has the Civil Air Patrol that sort of acts this way.
    When RC was new, and Walt was firing up his single channel \\\”drone\\\” for the first time, if we lived in this insane regulatory environment (FAA, FDA, and FCC), he could easily have been shutdown, and we would not have the hobby at all. Is FPV now, any different? It is an advancement in technology, which is what RC was initially as well. Do not forget that in WW2, there were unmanned war weary bombers flown by radio control into ships – there was every reason to shut the RC hobby down back at the start. Before we cat call FPV … remember our past.
    As far as legally going after the FAA … I\\\’ve never seen anyone win one of these challenges to the FDA, and in this case a civilian judge is going to SEE video of idiots in the final approach of airliners. Seems like a long shot.
    By the way … these long range FPV guys use freqs that require ham licenses. Another way to enforce deviant behavior.
    We, the members of AMA, need to come to a unified position. I\\\’m not a fan of a few guys deciding what our position is. How could we do this? Perhaps the Region VPs ought to consider holding regional forums that ultimately lead to position papers that could be integrated at the national level.

  30. Many comments focus on “drones” and/or “fpv”. Did modelers miss the part of the FAA interpretation wherein they changed the Congress required ‘notification’ when flying within 5 miles of an airport to state that operations “…which are then not authorized by air traffic or objected to by the airport operator…” would be considered as “endangering the safety of the NAS”.

    In short, they changed “notify” to “obtain permission”.

    This affects EVERY modeler. Control Line, Free Flight, RC, you name it. Suddenly, over 7.5 million square miles of the USA surrounding the 19,700 airports just became (effectively) closed to model aviation. Why ‘effectively’? Because no airport operator is going to give permission to something about which they have no background knowledge, and which, in their view, carries potential liability. Simply not going to happen in the real world.

    Back to the point: I’m really glad the AMA filed suit. This is an incredible land grab against ALL modelers. Not just FPV or whatever… all of us!

    This is exactly why I’ve paid AMA dues for many years.

  31. The FAA would include FPV, into the R/C aircraft regulations, whether the AMA supported FPV or not. R/C aircraft are where the FPV movement started at. The FAA is trying to take regulatory control of the R/C industry. This is nothing new. Government agencies are always trying to expand their scope. This is a way for them to protect their budget. It also would add to their revenue if they are allowed to regulate and apply compliance fees (TAX) to the manufacturers.

    As to a terrorist strike with FPV. On 9/11/2001 Terrorists took control of jet airliners and used them as terrorist weapons. The FAA was in regulatory control of the airline industry. They had and still will have no real effect on stopping another terror strike using jet aircraft. They would have even less effect controlling FPV components that fit into small boxes.

    And as to the danger to aircraft. Most FPV aircraft present very little danger to a full sized aircraft. A midair collision that caused any significant damaged to an airliner would be akin to a “golden BB” strike. To a Cessna it may be a greater danger. But stupid is as stupid does. Lasers are being pointed into pilots eyes and that is probably more dangerous than a strike by any (AMA sanctioned) R/C aircraft! Idiots shoot guns at planes, even here in the U.S., on a much more regular basis than is commonly known. And the latest spat of near misses between arrivals and departures is definitely more dangerous than anything a R/C flyer can cause!

    The FAA has enough on its plate as it is, and it should devote some of its time, and energy, to curing these other problems before going after R/C aircraft or FPV aircraft that, to date, have caused very few real problems!

  32. It’s about time the AMA took action and stepped up to the plate to stop the FCC from taking over the FPV flying. I know that China makes most of the parts to this video system but still a lot of jobs are created in the United States from this new field.

    … How hard would it be for a terrorist to take a three channel radio and a servo and hook it up to a switch and a battery and detonate an explosive? Then were all the people that fly airplanes going to be when the FCC takes away all our radios?

    I agree with the AMA that this is a new field and it does teach people to learn something from this field and going to aerospace work or other careers. Kind of reminds me of the old days about building a five tube shortwave radio.

  33. Dave: Just because SOME people abuse UHaul trucks and load them up with fertilizer and diesel is no reason to stop allowing people to rent them. The same applies to our hobby. There will ALWAYS be people who use machinery for other than its intended use. And, by the way, there are more than \”a few\” who want to use FPV. It is a step forward in our hobby.

  34. I am directing my comments to (those) who rant about the FAA and ‘their’ rules…

    Dave Moody has made very good and salient comments which many agree with.
    Your position that the FAA is looking for a reason to ‘spread panic’ and ‘enact further regulation’ is humorous. Why would the body with all the power it needs to enact any regulation it wants, want or need to spread panic? What form of conspiracy theorist are you? I think calling the FAA an abusive bureaucracy is absurd. “Fight the Power” Great slogan. That will make things lots better. Who do you think will really win when you pledge to ‘Fight’ with the FAA?
    The FAA’s position is guided by the law passed by congress and merely relayed to us but you don’t seem to realize or know that. Congress and not the FAA said NO commercial use. Congress defined what a model is that it must be flown in visual line of sight. NOT the FAA. They are merely delivering the message. The same goes for the 5 mile rule and essentially all the other things you think the FAA has done.
    Congress passed the law and the FAA has added nothing. They have done nothing even though they are an abusive bureaucracy that you dislike.
    I would say their actions so far have been reasoned and well thought out, except they haven’t taken any action yet. They have just told you what congress said you have to do.
    By the way, as long as you do not use your drone for commercial purposes, and you notify any airport within five miles of where you fly, if you stay below 400 feet, and at least until congress (not the FAA) changes its position on line of sight control, don’t use exclusive FPV then you can do what you want. Oh, please be safe. Quit flying over crowds and at public events and famous places. Please no more drones in Yellowstone. You only make things worse. You only prove to everyone you need FAA control because of your obvious lack of self control and willful disobedience. You are exactly who congress wants the FAA to control because you are out of control.
    Read the law! Educate yourself and don’t listen to others as they will always mislead you.
    Here is the law from congress. These are not FAA rules. This is the law of the land passed by congress and signed by the president. Read sec 336 Special Rule for Model Aircraft. Quit blaming the FAA for something they did not do!

    The FAA cannot change their mandate from congress. They can’t ignore parts of it.

    And finally I would suggest the AMA start acting in the true interest of the membership and not a small group who seem to have seized power and are doing things they are not authorized to do. I think the rank and file membership needs to be heard and we should be told exactly how much of our money and time is being spent by the “leaders” in their quest.


  35. The FAA is a government organization. Their objective is expansion of their budget, their workforce and their span of control. The safety of the aviation community and the general public is of secondary importance to them. There is a legitimate concern that new rc technology might represent a threat to the American public (and it’s not FPV). The governments knee jerk reaction is to ban the use of this technology by all of the general public. This of course does little to prevent the bad guys from using it, but it serves the primary objective of the FAA as stated earlier.

    So, if you are going to do battle with the FAA, know your opponent, know their motives. Your argument that the FAA has violated the wishes of Congress will fall on def ears. Focus instead on the negative impact their Interpretive Rule will have. You might have a chance.

  36. I for one would not split up any RC enthusiasts. Fight the FAA and win in numbers. I feel that too many people are just ignorant to the rules, regulations and safety practices in general. Anyone can go into the mall and come out with a $300 Parrot AR Drone and fly it wherever not knowing or understand the consequences. I feel there should be a mandatory safety course people need to take so they learn basic safety lessons on flying/launching anything off the ground. Just as people are now required to take a boaters safety course to operate a boat or jetski. Maybe go as far a requiring a certification of completion to purchase certain parts ie control boards.

  37. For years I admired model flying but never became involved until this past year. Of course one of the first things that I’ve done was to become a member of the AMA. Rules have their place and there are always those who will not abide by them. As model flyers we have to have be UNITED regardless of the type of craft we fly. The FAA has it’s reasons, (FPV is minor but easy target, how about flying by satellite waypoints (no visual at all)! Think Amazon/Google/Pizza delivery drones. FPV has good (and realistic) commercial uses in farming and search and rescue and will have a place in the modeling community if done so safely. I can’t stop technology and I wouldn’t want to. How many of us are flying with digital transmitters that want to go back to analog?

    The “Pendulum” has swung too far and we have to advocate for our rights to continue our standard of safe flying. I’ll stand with the FPV pilot and fight the FAA.

  38. As a fellow RC hobbyist, mostly ground RC for over 20 years. I am dismayed by the many comments by RC hobbyists (many whom I will call the Old Guard) to “ban” quadcopters/drones/UAVs whatever you want to call them. Don’t forget that your fixed wing R/C aircraft is also a drone/UAV unmanned aerial vehicle. So we are all in this hobby together. Those who wish to cut quadcopters loose and die, don’t forget it’s technological innovation that keeps this hobby alive. If not, you’d be still flying a nitro fueled airplane attached to a string swinging it in a circle above your heads. Quadcopters were the impetus for me to step into R/C aerial flight. Without which I would not have tried at all. It was my entry into quadcopters that brought me to join the AMA and to start looking into fixed wing R/C. The notion that quadcopter flyers are hooligans and we should be banned is ludicrous. Now that I know many of you Old Guard R/C flyers feel this way, there isn’t much I can say to you change your ways except issue a plea that if we don’t stand together, if you don’t accept new R/C flyers into your balsa and nitro fuel fixed wings clubs, then RC flying hobby will die. Ban quadcopters? Why not RC helicopters next? they use the exact same tech. Followed by your fixed wings next because the government feels your quarter scale R/C airplanes are too dangerous for you to handle.

  39. Regulated or not, FPV is here to stay. Where we go from here is forward. I fly FPV and my regular models at our family farm and at my club field. I dont draw attention to myself and thats how more people should fly. Keep it safe and keep it to yourself.

  40. to Marc Mulkey: You have done a lot of research but need to do more. Someone said “Know your enemy” and as I have said in my other comment (in this and other places) You keep directing your angst at the FAA and the FAA has done absolutely nothing! Nothing except relay the message that the law of the land passed by congress and signed by your president says a few things most of which the people here seem to disagree with. The FAA never said commercial use is illegal. Congress did. The FAA never said you have to notify an airport if you are within 5 miles. Congress did. The FAA never said you have to fly within visual line of sight. Congress did. Read Public Law 112-95-Feb. 14, 2012 section 336. When the FAA promulgates (that means makes for you FPV fliers) some rule you don’t like then yell at them. But for now, please know what you are talking about … And as for your argument about the airspace, that will not help. They will say the rules are in place for anyone that does happen fly in the NAS. If and when you do. They will also say that they and not you get to define that. And so if you think you can beat them with some technicality you think you have found, how about this? So you fly your ‘drone’ or UAS to take a picture for your buddy who is a realtor. Now your UAS is by federal law not a model aircraft (see again the public law). Since your UAS is not a Model and you are using it commercially it is a commercial aircraft Therefore the airspace you fly in, by definition, is part of the NAS if there is commercial flight occurring in it. So you have now made whatever air you fly in subject to all the FAA’s rules. See the logic?

    And Marc you need to read the Pirker decision. The NTSB judge did not say what you say he did. His decision said the rule was not a rule because the FAA did not follow the federal guidelines for making rules. Therefore it was a policy which was more like a suggestion. … He clearly stated he never addressed any of the other issues once he reached his decision about the rule. He did not ever say anything one way or the other about commercial use. Not that it matters because it is congress and not the FAA who said you cannot use it for commercial use and that IS a LAW and not a rule or policy.

    Maybe we had better try to learn to work within the system and act responsibly rather than like pirates and cowboys. You will never get your congressman to change the law (that is who has to, not the FAA) if we continue to generate bad press. Like contaminating a national treasure like Grand Prismatic Spring, or disrupting sporting events, or heaven forbid injuring people.


  41. … I suppose you all wanted to ban radio when it made your (control line) flyers obsolete? NEW TECHNOLOGY is NOT to blame, idiots are to blame. ANY UAV can be made to do BAD things including a glider if it was convenient. That includes your scale WW1 Sopwith, so ban them too? I hate to say this … I have been flying FPV in my AIRPLANE for 3 years now at my flying field, and so what? I had it in a truck back when it was VERY difficult and blaming DJI for the problem is like blaming G.M. for bad drivers. You still have to learn to fly the dang thing and if you think that it is easy, I double dog dare you to try it, I busted a lot of props etc learning and it isn’t cheap. I also took the time to learn to fly a real airplane, it is NOTHING like FPV… This entire controversy did not start with multirotors or with FPV, it started when the FAA decided to step in to where they do not belong. Contrary to their belief they do not OWN the air, WE are supposed to direct them, we pay them and authorized them and it can be modified through congress. Perhaps there and the courts are the only way to solve the continued overregulation of this and a plethora of other activities that are NOT the same as they were even 20 years ago. You are wrong in saying that we who choose to fly something different from you are not members of the AMA, I am and so are most of my flying pals. Just because we embraced a new technology, does not make us anything but AMA members with a passion for flying ANYTHING that flies, period! Not long ago, helicopters were darn near impossible to “control”. I bought one in 1989, before all of the stabilization electronics and modernized DFC. It was really hard to learn and few of us mastered it. NO one called for their ban, just stay over there and crash. The same could be said of the new at the time radios, by the by, you needed a HAM license for them, sound familiar? NO ONE called for their ban although the henny penny’s of the time said they spelled the doom of the sport of flying which before was either freeflight or line control. I still have the magazine articles and it sounds EXACTLY like this “mess”. This will happen as technology moves forward, more and more often and the handwriting is on the wall as far as the FAA is concerned. We need to quit whining and work together before they divide and conquer us… Pretty much there is only one way to make it happen, all of us or none of us.

  42. The FCC controls use of the frequency spectrum, they are not \”taking over FPV flying\”. The spectrum must be regulated so that some yahoo doesn\’t interfere with the legitimate users of a given frequency band. I am not aware of any pending FCC regulation that affects our current frequency bands. What is in question here is SOME FPV flyers are using HAM frequencies (to get longer range and for video/telemetry) without license. That is NOT an issue for the AMA. . .

  43. Check out the FAA latest issue of Safety Briefing (Sep-Oct 2014) online. Page four reflects what the Fed would like to limit their ‘deep regularity involvement’ in Radio Control and conscientious modelers. This is about all their reach should be we can only hope. Agree?

  44. As an AMA member, AUVSI member, licensed pilot (over 1100 hrs.) and entrepreneur looking to start up a commercial enterprise offering UAV services, I’ve taken the opportunity to attend seminars and discuss this with attorneys. You may be completely correct with your point of view (which is shared by some attorneys), but you should recognize that the only way to prevail is to take it to court and have a judge decide. Most of us don’t have the resources to do that.
    Secondly, should you decide to rely on your point of view and fly a UAV contrary to their stated guidelines, they will issue a summons based not only on violation of their so-called rules but also on the basis of “criminal and reckless endangerment” which will rely on the evaluation by a judge or jury as to whether you met the standard of caution that would be used by a reasonable person.
    So, our only avenue of action is to support the advocacy of the AMA and the AUVSI who are both fighting this interpretation.

  45. So, someone died after being hit by an RC helicopter. This was not FPV, this was not multi rotor. This was an RC helicopter which is technology that has been around for many decades. Should we ban RC helicopters too? since so far I have yet to read about a FPV or multi rotor caused death. RC helicopters seem a lot more dangerous.

    RC airplane with 6.5 foot wingspan kills two spectators. Should we should ban RC planes with a wingspan larger than 6 feet? The pilot was experienced and no mention of FPV.

    No, we should NOT ban RC helicopters or RC planes with large wingspans. I am just illustrating how some of the logic of the comments in here don’t really make sense. If we take the news reports as a reason to ban things we may as well toss ALL our RC aircrafts in the dumpster. So you don’t fly FPV or you don’t fly multirotor. It does not mean you can reject it as not part of the RC community. I don’t fly rc planes and I don’t fly RC helicopters. Based on the news reports i quoted and the logic some have given here I can say “ban RC helicopters and ban large RC planes. Multi rotors are the only safe RC.”
    But I don’t say such things. I say hooray for safe RC heli pilots. Hooray for safe RC plane pilots. Let us band together and make RC flying safe and work for everyone. Don’t ban anything that is proven safe as long as responsible people operate them which I am sure is 99.99% of us. Don’t ban… instead “band” together to make a stronger group. Promote safety, promote responsibility. Show the FAA that we can self-regulate as a unified group.

  46. Wow. I’ve read a few of these and I can’t believe what I was reading. Your all arguing back and forth. Pointing fingers at one another saying its there fault. Model aviation is just that, not one specific type of craft or group of model pilots. Stop fighting amongst one another and start fighting for model aviation! Educate people about all forms, aspects of model aviation. The quads that so many of you dislike are bringing many new model pilots to our wonderful sport. I have also seen them re-kindle the fire in many who had stopped flying. United we stand, divided we fall

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