New Draft of the FAA Reauthorization Bill

Rep. Bill Shuster, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced a new draft of the FAA reauthorization bill, titled the “Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act.” This bill is critical to preserving our voluntary, community-based approach to the model aviation community across the country.

While we are carefully reviewing the bill’s language, it is important to note that the Committee recognized the community-based approach under the “Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” The language in that section follows very similarly to Section 336 of the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill. We were also pleased to see that the new language recognizes the important role that model aircraft play in STEM education.

However, there are still some changes to the bill that could further strengthen and clarify the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. In the weeks ahead, we will be working closely with Chairman Shuster and the Committee on our suggested improvements.

We will keep you updated on this important bill and AMA’s ongoing work to protect our hobby.

As always, thank you for your support of AMA.


  1. I would flag for the AMA, SEC. 439. LOW ALTITUDE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT, which contemplates unmanned aircraft traffic management systems for airspace between the surface and 400 feet above ground level.

    Additionally, the Special Rule for Model Aircraft text is still limited to new rules that specifically target model airplanes flown for a hobby, leaving them subject to existing rules and SRFAs. I understand that the AMA and others want to read the text differently, but the fact that reasonable minds can disagree over the interpretation underscores how poorly suited the existing language is for achieving the purpose of distinguishing model aircraft from the full scale aircraft the FAA has historically regulated.

    I encourage the AMA to focus on fixing the language in this provision above all else.

    1. The definition for UAS needs to be looked at and redefined. My understanding is that the Congress has defined a UAS as any aircraft the is controlled by a person from within or on the aircraft is unmanned.

      Control line model aircraft are continuously controlled by a person who is mechanically connect to the airplane by the flying lines. They are also limited to height by the length of the lines and are aerodynamically balanced such that unconnected fight is a disaster.

      Freeflight model airplanes and gliders are limited by short engine run times, wind direction, and thermals. Most will have a system to end the flight also known as a dethermalizer that is preset before launch.

      That would leave radio controlled model aircraft into which the family of drones (helicopters?) falls to dealt with.

      In my opinion, it would seem a more realistic approach would be separate model aircraft into their respective categories and deal with each as necessary. One rule will not fit all.

  2. First, thank you to our AMA team, and thank you to all who have contacted your government representatives. There may be hope for some common sense yet!
    That said, our AMA team cant let their guard down. The new language CANNOT be ambiguous (for the aircraft or the pilot). It CANNOT be superceded by any other “under certain circumstance” language, or by any other bureaucracys(DOT, for example). Thanks again.

    1. The FAA claims 300k have registered, but you know that is a lie.

      As of 2011 there are total 618k pilots, 10k less than the year before.
      This is all pilots, student through Airline Transport Pilots.
      So the FAA is loosing pilots, and with the decrease in pilots, they are loosing their relevancy.

      Total population: 400+M, the pilots is insignificant number of total.

      Pilots are going away, so the FAA has to have something to control, and justify their existence. This is why the FAA is going after toy airplanes.
      Calling toy airplane operators pilots, so they can have someone to control.

      1. I hole heartedly agree, but you also forgot one thing; loss of pilots, loss of revenue; in other words, it’s all a cash (and power) grab.

    1. If you want to fly model aircraft between .55 and 55 pounds outdoors you must register once as a person who flies such model aicraft at
      And you’ve now missed the free rebate period that was for the first 30 days.

      There are also other rules you must follow, such as marking all of your model aircraft with that registration number, flying within line of sight and under 400 feet AGL, notifying all airports and control towers within a 5 statue mile radius of your intent to fly, keeping out of restricted airspace, etc.

      1. Tasha- your FAA website does not reflect that- it states you must register your DRONE- i am not a drone, nor do i fly one – if the FAA was truly interested in safety, they would be allowing the AMA and its membership to do what we do best – fly safely- without government B/S.

  3. I noticed in the latest AMA email on this that your using the ” we like this but don’t like that”

    “However, there are still some changes to the bill that could further strengthen and clarify the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. In the weeks ahead, we will be working closely with Chairman Shuster and the Committee on our suggested improvements.”

    Can we get clarification on just what the issues are? It would help the membership trying to help by addressing this to our representatives. Why don’t you give specifics?


  4. Having skimmed through the FAA Reauthorization Bill draft, I concur that Section 439 could be a ticking time bomb. Should this bill pass and be signed into law, AMA must make it a top priority to be an active part of the Sec. 439 advisory committee process, otherwise our hobby is done for. Worst-case, in a few years each of us may have to call the low-altitude air traffic control office to get permission to fly and possibly pay a fee for airspace use – every time you want to fly your model – RC/CL/FF whatever. What if Amazon wants to deliver a package to a customer using ‘your’ airspace? Low-altitude ATC could tell you ‘no, you can’t fly today’ or ‘you can fly for 15 minutes but must land NLT 1400 hrs, and BTW that will be $10, what card shall I bill your airspace use to?’ There’s big money riding on this – which usually means the little guy loses!

    1. I agree with your remarks- I don’t think many are looking into the future for what the FAA is up to. First of all what the heck is 5 bucks per RC Hobbyist going to get us or the FAA.
      Second- are they going to send out a “Crash Team” every time we smoke one into mother Earth.
      It’s all B/S and a very unnecessary piece of the to much government PUZZLE.
      PS: normally I am very pro gov but this intrusion into a HOBBY is beyond me.

  5. For the most part, the new draft bill contains the same language and intent of the original 2012 language. I do not see any significant changes influenced by the AMA or any other modeling organization. While I am concerned with some of the language referring to the operation of model aircraft, I find myself more concerned with the AMA’s directions to its members and clubs.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I assume that any safety and flight rules published by the AMA must first meet the FAA requirements for model aircraft.

    I also assume that failure of AMA members and clubs to fully comply with FAA regulations could have negative consequences.

    I therefore don’t understand why the AMA is issuing conflicting advice to members.

    For example, it is clear that the Bill requires the operator of the model aircraft to maintain unassisted visual line of sight at all times. This clearly eliminates beyond line of sight and first person view operations, something the AMA is pushing for hard.

    As clearly demonstrated in the recent AMA Ground Control video, why would the AMA lead clubs to believe it is ok to not make sure pilots are registered with the FAA. As though it is not important. Will the AMA make the club whole when they loose their flying site that may be on public or federal property.

    While I do not agree with all the changes/rules contained in the revised FAA regulations, I do not think that an organization that seeks to be recognized as a Community Based Organization should be advising its members to basically ignore or break laws simply because they disagree. There are avenues in our legal system to voice our opinions and have things changed.

    1. I’m just happy that AMA is going against what the FAA is saying. Keep in mind that the FAA has no legal standing for the BS they are pulling. The FAA is the one who is ignoring law and overreaching their authority. AMA is finally sticking to the 2012 rule as much as it can and is advising us to do the same; which is how it legally should be.

  6. I need an update on weather or not to do the registration yet. Is there still a chance to just be able to use my AMA number?


      1. Again, Tasha,your FAA website does not say that- it states you must register your DRONE- i am not a drone nor do i fly one. My plane will not sustain flight autonomically-it is not a drone. Mr. Huerta is publicly saying he has registered 300,000 DRONES- not “as a person” as you indicate.

        1. Unfortunately the FAA seems to have lumped “anything that flies by remote control” into the “drone” category. (with the exception of those weighing less than 1/2 lb).
          I have been flying R/C for over 50 years and never considered myself to be flying “drones”.
          Seems to me some of the FAA types do not understand what they are talking about!
          I sincerely hope the AMA manages to “educate” them!

  7. Alas , The drone advocacy , FPV promoting AMA , in their never ending search for advert revenue in the once fine magazine are smack on course .

    The once fine hobby of flying RC AIRPLANES is on the block and on the brink of extinction .

    Mr Brown’s “editorials” say it all . AMA + All Multirotor Aficiandos

  8. There has always been controversy over new elements in our hobby- the old timers told stories about the “new”escapement radios and the”new” transistorized transmitters and how they would never stay around. (Too expensive, no skill needed to trim up your plane etc.) In just 30+ yrs we’ve seen 72mhz,75mhz,PCM,helicopters, turbines, 2.4 gig SST, and so on. I dont fly quads, but i have friends who do and are AMA members,and fly in accordance with AMA safety rules. Technology has made it easy to fly quads and flight sims have made it easy to learn the fixed wing basics. Because of that, fewer newbies are coming to the flying fields and they lose that one on one guidance and they dont hear about the AMA .The quads are here,now how do we effectively reach out to the newbies and promote safety, common sense,and the AMA? Is the “before you fly” program a place to start? Perhaps. We cant let the FAA play divide and conquer when it comes to our hobby(although commercial use of our craft may need different parameters) We need to stand together, and keep posting your government reps.

  9. I am an AMA member, but will not register and will not fly anything over .54 pounds until this BS is resolved.

  10. Chad, as i inquired in another post, do we still have to register our drone with the FAA? Or is our AMA number/ membership sufficient?

  11. Registering model aircraft will not prevent bad people from doing bad things anymore than registering handguns will prevent people from acquiring them illegally to commit crimes.

  12. Why does the FAA designate photograpy for sale as a “Flying commercial service” and that you must have a commercial license to take and sold pictures, souldn’t that designation be exclusive for the “Flying Transportation Service” (of persons or products) like the Delivery System that Amazon wants to implement?

    It could be that what they want is a slice of every cake? why to put such limitation?, why don’t they differentiate a real plane from a RC Unit with a limited reach on distance and flying time, they already know the differences by cataloging the units on a weight basis from 0.55 to 50 pounds, so let the small limited reach units fly free within certain heights and areas out of NFA and let them do what ever they want while they are not breaking the law. (trasporting drugs or spying on people and such). what do you think? Am I wrong?

  13. What has the AMA tried doing outside of trying to compromise with the FAA? Has the AMA filed any sort of lawsuit yet? The AMA just raised the price of of membership dues… So far, I’m not seeing my money’s worth. If I can’t even see any REAL push back on these absurd purposed regulations and draft legislatios, how on earth do you expect me to think you’ll stand up for me in the event of a modeling accident where your AIG insurance is required?

  14. The resolution of this problem is very simple. Change Rule 336 to read “This bill does not apply to the remote control model aircraft hobby. Plain and straightforward. No need to pay a lot of money to people to lobby for us. Just write your Senator and Representative.

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