AIRR Act passes Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

We have good news to share. Thursday, February 11, 2016 the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House of Representatives passed the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, which preserves and strengthens the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

We would like to thank Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina for their efforts to ensure that this important legislation protects the hobby of flying model aircraft.

The AIRR Act is critical to preserving our voluntary, community-based approach to managing the model aviation community. By strengthening the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, this bill will enhance safety across the recreational community and allow our members, who for decades have flown safely and responsibly within AMA’s community-based safety program, to continue enjoying our hobby without new burdensome regulations.

Among the bill’s provisions, it provides a clear definition of a community-based organization (CBO) and tasks the FAA with developing a process for recognizing qualifying CBOs, both long-overdue tasks for the agency. In addition, the bill makes clear that model aircraft can be used as a teaching tool for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as aeronautics.

The AIRR act is a strong bill that we are proud to support, but Congress isn’t done with it yet. The full House of Representatives still needs to vote on the AIRR Act and the Senate still needs to work on its own version of the bill. AMA has been actively advocating for our members’ interests on Capitol Hill, and we will continue working with Congress on additional changes that could further protect our hobby.

We may need your help in reaching out to members of Congress to urge them to support the Special Rules for Model Aircraft, which provides critical protections for the model aviation community. Remain vigilant and continue to monitor emails, social media, and for more information and updates.


  1. More good news and moving toward getting aero modeling back where it belongs. Not done but all these steps are positive.

    Thanks to Gov’t affairs and volunteers who are out there informing, educating and advocating.

    1. Stupid Stupid Stupid… U saw what happened when the AMA had congress Try to tell the FAA what they could and could not do. How did that work out. Now the FAA did the least it could by having a registration program that Means NOTHING> Just wait till the NAS is the sole Property of the Air Lines thru Privatization of the ATC system …. What is wrong with U people If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The FAA will never be as bad as the Privation of the NAS. Registration is NOTHING Leave well enough alone. Congress is afraid of the FAA Proof Not one congressman nor any Senator came to the rescue of #336
      AIRR will be the end of general aviation and probably Model aviation as we know it today …. U have now idea of what User Fees will do but devistate all non commercial aviation. Including Model Aviation.

      1. Hey Mike I agree with you: Stupid! I just smell more regulation, you can’t do this, you can’ do that, you have to fly here, you have to fly there, etc.. The FAA took the shot, saw there was no serious opposition and that’s that. Government does this all the time, do it and if nobody stops us its done.

      2. Folks, what you have to remember is this has all been the result of those who no nothing of or have respect for the hobby in general, has muddied the water for those of us who do follow the rules. Even if one is not a member of AMA, I am confident that they’ve exercised more responsibility that the individuals who have acted irresponsibly. Whether by accident or intentional, the bottom line is rules have always been made for those who have a habit of not following them. The net upshot is that because the White House no fly zone was violated by using a quad copter. Now the government for security reasons is breathing down as if all hobbyists and modelers are irresponsible. So now that the issue is actively on the government’s dinner plate, the issue has become one that like it or not, must be thoroughly examined and explained to Congress. Ten bucks says that there probably isn’t one congressman or senator that’s ever flown a model or become active in our hobby. This government has made a habit of replagerizing things already in place. As much frustration that there is, the bottom line is this is a unique opportunity to grow our hobby and educate not only Congress, but all of the future model enthusiasts, aeronautical and mechanical engineers just what we are about and all of the benefits and breakthroughs yet to be made as a result of our beloved hobby. We can either negatively whine about this, or turn it into a positive. WE can take everyone to school on this and make things better and safer for everyone. Because, once the milk has been spilled, you’ve got to do something with the mess.

        1. So how do you figure that. You say a drone violated White House air space and caused this. What about the gentleman on an ultra light that landed on the White House lawn yet they are still not regulated by the FAA and they are also allowed to fly above 400 feet. Since when does the FAA may LAW. Get Real

    2. Here is the section about hobby aircraft:

      21 ‘‘§ 45507. Special rules for model aircraft
      22 ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other pro
      23 vision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned
      24 aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration
      25 plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Adminis-
      1 trator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not
      2 promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model air
      3 craft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft,
      4 if—
      5 ‘‘(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or
      6 recreational use;
      7 ‘‘(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with
      8 a community-based set of safety guidelines and with
      9 in the programming of a community-based organiza
      10 tion;
      11 ‘‘(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55
      12 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design,
      13 construction, inspection, flight test, and operational
      14 safety program administered by a community-based
      15 organization;
      16 ‘‘(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that
      17 does not interfere with and gives way to any manned
      18 aircraft; and
      19 ‘‘(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport,
      20 the operator of the aircraft provides the airport op
      21 erator and the airport air traffic control tower (when
      22 an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with
      23 prior notice of the operation (model aircraft opera
      24 tors flying from a permanent location within 5 miles
      25 of an airport should establish a mutually agreed
      1 upon operating procedure with the airport operator
      2 and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air
      3 traffic facility is located at the airport)).
      5 OR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES.—A flight of an unmanned
      6 aircraft shall be treated as a flight of a model aircraft
      7 for purposes of subsection (a) (regardless of any com
      8 pensation, reimbursement, or other consideration ex
      9 changed or incidental economic benefit gained in the
      10 course of planning, operating, or supervising the flight),
      11 if the flight is—
      12 ‘‘(1) conducted for instructional or educational
      13 purposes; and
      14 ‘‘(2) operated or supervised by an eligible not
      15 for-profit organization.
      16 ‘‘(c) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this
      17 section may be construed to limit the authority of the Ad
      18 ministrator to pursue enforcement action against persons
      19 operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the
      20 national airspace system.
      22 DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘eligible not-for-prof
      23 it organization’ means an entity that—
      24 ‘‘(1) is described in section 501(c)(3) of the In
      25 ternal Revenue Code of 1986;
      VerDate Sep 11 2014

      1. So how do you figure that. You say a drone violated White House air space and caused this. What about the gentleman on an ultra light that landed on the White House lawn yet they are still not regulated by the FAA and they are also allowed to fly above 400 feet. Since when does the FAA may LAW. Get Real

  2. We are willing and ready to do our part of a mail and e-mail attack to Congress supporting passage of the AIRR Act. As we have proven in the past, mail and e-mail to as many as possible is a very effective tool towards gettint the attention of Congress and the many other political entities that control congress. Could someone please publish the actual name and numbers of the AIRR bill, so that we can correct information to address our representatives with. If possible, a sample letter would be an even greater help, and might get many more of our members to respond also. Thanks, Noel Johnson (

  3. Great news- BUT- do we still have to register our drones as per the FAA website or will the FAA change their website to correctly reflect that you are registering yourself? Perhaps this new AIRR act addresses the registration law as illegal?

      1. Chad,
        AS an AMA member, may I ask this?
        Where is the money coming from for hobby shops to sign up new AMA members?
        Is it coming from our dues , or being funded from elsewhere?
        $25.00 for each Open member signed up, and $21.00 for each Senior member signed up.

        1. Thank you for your inquiry regarding the AMA Hobby Shop Program. Since 1998 the hobby shop program has been an excellent acquisition program for new members. For every new adult member at $75 the hobby shop receives $25. For every new senior member at $65 the hobby shop receives $21. This is provided with each new membership they acquire.

        2. Ed,
          As you may have noticed, “erind” did not answer your question. There is a reason for this. It appears they have been instructed to not divulge financial details with anyone. While this may seem rather unsettling on the surface, it is common place unless you are a stockholder, which you aren’t. If you think about it the money paid out is coming from the dues that the signed up individual is paying, when signing.

    1. You only have to register to actually fly RC. Merely owning RC aircraft is not a crime if you are not registered!

      Suppose you decide, like me, to stop flying RC models heavier than 250 grams unless and until the FAA registration ceases, and the DB records are destroyed. Then you don’t need to register. The wording of the regulations is ambiguous and confusing, but if you don’t fly, you don’t need to be registered.

    2. We (AMA) members will be the only ones complying to the FAA regulations,The others,lone wolves will not and whose going to enforce it????????

    3. Yes we do. As much we’d like not to have to, we need to. It needs to be done so that “we”, as the law-abiding and responsible hobbyists, will comply with the guidelines – just as we’ve done for decades.

  4. I wish that the FAA would do as told by the US congress instead of doing as they wish,and doing it wrong.

    1. What are U stupid Or just DUMB … No one tells the FAA or IRS what they can or can not do. The FAA basically told AMA and FAA “GO “F” YOUR SELF” and Not one congressman nor any senator came to the rescue of #336 …. All we must do is Register and put a piece of paper in/on our R/C TOYs…For Gods sake Leave well enough alone. Don’t Poke the Bear, The FAA can and will make things much more difficult for Model Aviation. Nothing as bad as Privation of the ATC system will do to R/C TOYS.

    2. They are doing what they are told, they manage the US airspace… which goes from 80feet and up above private property and ground and up above public property.

      Anything flying in the air, like it or not, it’s FAA jurisdiction.
      If congress says the FAA cannot regulate the flying model (that is up to 55 lbs) hobby, it still has the right and actually the mandate to regulate access to the US airspace.
      So yeah do not regulate the hobby … just get grounded.

      For instance, any FPV flying model is a UAV under FAA rules and they regulate that ..

      so nothing has changed.

  5. It finally appears someone is willing to listen to reason. I know there is still work to do but at least discussion is again taking place about how to protect the model aviation community. Thanks in part to the efforts of the AMA advocating for the members it represents, that discussion is underway. Model aviation is more than just a hobby. It is a real industry that in its own way helps to support the economy and can also drive innovation for other industries. Let’s stick together and act as one voice to keep model aviation alive for years to come.

    1. Hi Lenny,

      You will still need to register with the FAA to avoid civil and criminal penalties.

      1. What law are you breaking. The last I knew the FAA does not have the power to make laws. Only legislative bodies have that power.

    2. The new special rule (AIRR) has merely passed through a committee. It still needs congressional discussion and a House and Senate vote before it has ANY effect on what the FAA has done thus far in regards to sUAS registration.

  6. As a new member of the AMA, I have to say that it does not seem as though the AMA is looking after the community of RC pilots, but rather propping itself up to be recognized. AMA should have fought the registration and should be doing more in regards to fighting FAA overreach. Instead, they are carving out a niche for themselves. This, combined with the increase in yearly fees makes me wonder if I did the right thing by supporting the AMA with membership dues.

    1. Jason,
      Because they have not won every fight does not equate to not fighting. AMA is tiny compared to the FAA in size, budget, lobbyists and lawyers. Since you are new I’m not sure who you have been talking to but take a look at the history of advocacy of AMA. There is much that occurs by the work of very few but complained about much by those who do little. That’s been my observation. People mistakenly believe that AMA has huge budgets and are some sort of legal department on retainer. The gov’t affairs department is only a few individuals. This dues increase is helping to pay for the lobbying and advocating necessary to reason with one of the gov’t largest agencies. You joined the only Congressionally recognized Community Based Organization that has been effectively negotiating and finding middle
      Ground compromises in a very changing hobby environment. By the way, “you” and “I” and all members are the AMA. We all have a responsibility to advocate in whatever way we can for the hobby we enjoy. I don’t think celebrating a small victory in a long drawn out battle of unreasonable legislation is not “propping” up, it’s just a step in the right direction.

    2. Yes, Jason you did the right thing. The AMA is fairly small, it is hard to fight the feds, and takes time, ask the NRA.
      Without the AMA and other organizations like them, this Sport/Hobby would have no structure, we would all be standing out in some field alone, flying in circles. How much fun would that be? We need these organizations for this Sport/Hobby, and industry to be what it is. The dues are reasonable, registration, although silly, is simple and painless.
      Just fly and have a good time.

    3. Jason: They have been fighting this when the issue with UAS (drones) started becoming a problem. They even issued a court case in 2014 that still has yet to be heard. What the FAA did was impose registration just prior to the 2015 Christmas season because they believed that a record number of UAS would be purchased for Christmas as gifts. They ignored the AMA and were heavily swayed by the national security lobby. I will give both the AMA and FAA credit where it’s due for one thing – the Know Before You Fly program. The niche AMA has enjoyed has pretty much always been there, with the safety code. Now with the advent of the bad apples using UAS in a way that put others at risk, the FAA was finally compelled to do something. Was this a knee-jerk reaction? You bet it was. And you can also bet the house that those people will never join AMA and thumb their nose at the FAA. I fully understand both sides. I would hate to see one rogue UAS wind up in a commercial airliner’s engines and blow the plane up. Then the entire house of cards could come down crashing on all of us.

      1. Helium party balloons can rise high enough to be sucked into a jet engine causing a flame-out yet I do not see any cry to make people register with the FAA and put a number on a helium balloon.

        This whole registration thing is NOT A LAW and thus cannot be enforced. It is not in the Code of Federal Register (CFR) so it is not a law the way I understand it. Of course that does not mean it would not cost you a boat load to fight a fine in court.

        What it is, is a knee jerk reaction from the FAA stirred on by the Media’s ignorance of model aircraft.

        1. Right on Bro tell it like it is but don’t fire til you see the whites of there eyes.

        2. In fact, helium party balloons in normal birthday party quantities can not cause a flameout in a modern jet engine. Also, the FAA is, and has always been an entity all it’s own and where U.S. civil airspace is concerned pretty much operates with carte blanche. I do agree that their response to all this borders on the “knee jerk” and the AMA through proper channels must continue to fight for what is reasonable and proper. Remember above all that the FAA’s unwritten motto has always been, ” at the FAA, we’re not happy until you’re not happy”!

        3. You better have deep pockets if you plan to test that theory. Even if what the FAA is doing is illegal, they will drag you through the courts till you run out of money and you’ll STILL have to pay the fine.

          Pay the $5.00, register your aircraft, and hope by the time you need to renew in 3 years that this is all sorted out and the FAA has been put in their place.

        4. Preston,
          It seems you are unaware of the “APA”, the “Administrative Procedure Act”, is a United States federal statute that governs the way in which administrative agencies of the federal government of the United States may propose and establish regulations. In the event an agency feels an emergency situation warrants (the projected sale of 1 million Christmas drones) they can establish a law without going through the standard procedures, NPRM, 30 day comment period etc … .
          So, as it stands, it is law.

    4. I agree, Jason. This bill appears to be all about protecting the AMA from competition and not much at all about representing RC flyers.

    5. Jason
      lot of old members are wondering the same as you. The Faa jumped the AMA because they have a data base. The AMA claims to have about 188.000 members and at $5 a pop, the government will be making $940,000. I think the Ama is trying to cover their butts on this one.
      This things with the hobby shops are new to me. Like it or not, I signed up with the FAA just to be on the safe side and also I like to fly, but “I” think there is more to this than meets the eye.
      The first three years is $5, but there’s no telling how much they’ll charge to renew.

  7. “You will still need to register with the FAA to avoid civil and criminal penalties.”

    Don’t get to excited by this regulation. We’ve been there, done that, before.
    In the 1960’s I bought a single channel radio that came with a notice that I had to register it with the FCC and would be issued a number to be displayed on the Tx, less the heavens open and the wrath of government ban me from the galaxy. I did. Even renewed it once, as required by law. Heck. Who wants to be banned from the galaxy? Then, CB radios came along and the whole registration issue was swamped by unregistered “come on good buddies” and it all went away.
    So, here we go again.

    1. It seems to me that we are forgetting the power of democracy ,AKA it works,When I was young I was thrilled about operating my own little radio station.I purchased my first C-B radio and all i had to do was register it with the FCC at a cost of $25.Well,right along that time the movie SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT came on the scene The sale of C-B radios went through the roof .Well need less to say a bunch of 20 year olds were not about to start slinging there hard earned bucks to the FCC, After all,in reality ,this could not be enforced .Well,this is the way it went,a zillion C-B ,s sold and not many ,if any did not get registered with the FCC and the $ 25 fee was never collected .THE FCC was forced to waive the fee and hardly any went on to register at all .Well,weather what ever your take is ,weather this was right or wrong is not the point ,the point is a demonstration of the power of the people IT WORKS AMEN””””’

  8. What every AMA member and the AMA itself has to recognize first of all is the FAA has become a “rogue” federal agency” just as the IRS and EPA also have.
    There is no accountability for any of them.
    These agencies operate under the “lawless” and post-Constitutional Obama admisistration.

    I wish the AMA had included a link to our Conressional representatives as the EAA has in their fight against the FAA in “privatizing Air Traffic Control.

    Aftr watching what the fAA did to the EAA several yaers ago on the ATC issue at the annual EAA convention, I seriously doubt the FAA will make any changes until we elect a President who follows the US Constitution and his administration also does.

    When the head of the fAA and his people under him know there will be a price to pay for violating congressional orders.
    Right now we don’t have this available in our lawless government.
    The fAA knows that that congress will do nothing to throttle them.
    So they simply ignore part 336 and literally legislate their own laws, outside of the “separation of powers” this country was founded on.

    It will be up to us “We the People” to change that this coming Novem
    To all my fellow AMA MEMBERS,I am 65 years old and up until the past 7 years, I have never seen such tyranny in our government as we are seeing now!

    Please excercise your right to vote and let’s stop the tyrannical government we are dealing with right now!
    Let’s put aeromodelling back to the way it should be and not dictated to us by our government.

    1. I agree Ed! We all need to get to the ballot box and down size all of the alphabet/rogue agencies!
      Part 336 is the law. As far as I’m concerned, FAA ‘regulations’ are not. I’m also a Private Pilot, and I understand full well what is required for safety.
      This entire administration is full of scofflaws, starting with the POTUS. Guess I’ll follow their example.

    2. You are so correct on the lawlessness I also support our second amendment and the civilian marksmanship program.
      Life is pointless without freedom.

    3. This has nothing to do with what political party is on goverment now, go and campain elsewhere Ed.

    4. Ed, you are so right. Remember in November. As for Mauricio, you deserve the government you elect.

  9. So if we are a current AMA member at a sactioned AMA field flying line of sight and don’t get a FAA#. The local law enforcement officers give us a ticket for not having a FAA#. Does that mean the AMA wont represent us in court. I can only assume that the AMA is no longer valid. Nothing in there rules state we have to get an FAA#. If i get an FAA# by default making them the Federal governing body responsible of enforcing there rules. Wich means i cant be denied access to any AMA field be it public or privite. There is nothing in there rules saying i have to have an AMA#. Totaly confused any help will be greatly appericated.

    1. Hi Mike,

      We are suggesting members register to avoid criminal and civil penalties, but club or membership benefits are not contingent on UAS registration. We are advising club leaders, CDs, and other AMA leaders that they are not responsible for policing UAS registration.

      1. Well, tell that to PG RC in Maryland… They are now in the FAA enforcement business… No FAA registration, no get to fly…

  10. It’s interesting to read how many folks on these pages, presumably AMA members, are still refusing registration over the word “drone.” I know AMA has issued statements, but perhaps it might be in order for AMA to issue one yet again, this time focused on clarifying that point for it’s members.

    “AMA members, there is some residual confusion in the hobby with respect to registration requirements, mostly centered on the use of the word “drone.” Please note that the FAA regulation is clear: whether or not you consider it a “drone,” a “model airplane,” a “helicopter,” a “Multi-Rotor,” or anything else, they are all small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) under the regulation, and thus require registration.

    We often lament those who are hurting our hobby through irresponsible actions. We expect AMA members to set the example, follow the regulation, and fly responsibly at all times. We want our members to stand in stark contrast to those who are flying in a dangerous and reckless manner.


  11. Hello all,
    I am new to this site and model aircraft. This is something I’ve been interested in for a while and have finally decided to step into the arena. I’ve been trying to get a clear picture of current FAA activities but am having difficulty, as I see with many other’s comments. I am not an AMA member but am considering joining soon. Bouncing between rc, AMA, and FAA websites lead me to believe no one has a clue as to what is or is not required. I will provide examples below but my base question is:

    Is it required by law to register your person with the FAA if you want to fly an rc model?

    This question was posted here earlier:

    lenny February 17, 2016 at 08:41
    dos this mean we don’t have to register through faa
    Report This Comment

    Chad Budreau February 17, 2016 at 10:26
    Hi Lenny,
    You will still need to register with the FAA to avoid civil and criminal penalties.
    Report This Comment

    On the AMA page it states:
    Therefore, AMA members are now required by regulation to register their aircraft with the FAA to avoid federal enforcement and potential penalties.

    Does this mean it is now law?

    Yet on the AMA FAQ page,
    Q: How does UAS registration affect my membership?
    A: AMA club or member benefits are not contingent on UAS registration. We encourage all members to follow Federal regulations, but we are not policing UAS registration.
    Q: Should clubs, contest directors, or event leaders require all pilots be registered?
    A: No, we are not asking our clubs or contest directors to police UAS Registration. That decision is up to each individual club and event leader.
    Q: Am I required by law to comply with the guidelines listed on the UAS Registration site?
    A: The FAA acknowledged that AMA members should continue to follow AMA’s community-based safety code. We also discussed and the FAA confirmed that the language on the FAA registration site is a guideline, not regulation. This guideline is not directed at the AMA community but rather, it is a simplified set of safety guidelines geared to the general public.
    Q: What happens if I don’t register by February 19?
    A: According to the FAA, failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions.

    So are these guidelines or laws? On one page, the AMA says their members are required to do the FAA registration but in the FAQ they do not. Which is it? I can understand a disconnect between two separate sites, FAA and AMA, but conflicting answers on the same site is not helping anyone.

    From the FAA website:
    Q6. Does the FAA have the authority to require registration of UAS used by modelers and hobbyists?
    A. Yes. By statute all aircraft are required to register. Congress has defined “aircraft” to include UAS, regardless of whether they are operated by modelers and hobbyists.

    This states that the FAA has the authority to register aircraft. Does this mean if we register the aircraft we don’t register ourselves?

    Here is another conflict on the FAA site:
    The statutory parameters of a model aircraft operation are outlined in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012) (PDF). Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization

    Can there be criminal penalties, as the FAA claims, when they themselves say “Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS”? Any help or clarification would be appreciated. I am in the beginning stages of this hobby so I don’t want my first step to be wrong or misguided.

    Thank you,

    1. My take on this is that the AMA is basically stating that you must follow the FAA laws/guidelines/suggestions/whatever you want to call them. The FAA contends that if anything flies in the air outdoors, then they have authority over it and they can legally assess fines to those who don’t do as they’re told. The confusion over this rule and that is…confusing. Basically just register with the FAA and continue to follow all AMA rules and you’ll be fine. This could change if a judge rules differently, or things gets passed through the House and Senate but that’s currently where we’re at.

      I’m not a high level officer in AMA so I can’t definitively say why they are suggesting that club officers and contest directors not police members, but my take would be that this is a hotbed issue with most. They would be wise to minimize conflict amongst the members. It doesn’t affect the clubs or AMA as a whole if the FAA levies a fine against a single member so they prefer to stay out of it. If you want to fly without registering and take the risk of being fined, that’s on you. Keep in mind that AMA insurance probably won’t cover you if something should happen since flying without an FAA registration number could be considered an illegal activity…also “on you” if true.

      At this point, the simplest, easiest, and least confusing thing to do is just register with the FAA (yourself, not each craft), place your number along with your AMA info in/on the craft, and go flying and have fun while following the AMA rules.

      The ONLY way that the FAA does not have us by the balls is if we fly INDOORS. The FAA has authority over OUTDOOR airspace.

      Give the AMA time to fix this through their continuing court case and their work with congress to clarify the special rule we have.

  12. Please help me understand. Why should one feel that one should abide by any rule, regulation, or guideline promulgated by the FAA when such is in direct violation of the provisions of FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Sec. 336. Special Rule for Model Aircraft. This is current law passed by Congress and has not been repealed.

    1. Because they have “interpreted” what that special rule means and what they say is binding until a judges rules otherwise (case pending).

      Have you heard the saying that “It’s not illegal till you get caught!”? Well the FAA is running with that one. Till a judge tells them they can’t, they can.

  13. I rather pay $5 for every 3 yrs to the FAA than pay $225 for every 3 yrs with the AMA.The AMA has done nothing to protect us. Might as well just throw your money out the window.

    1. I think that’s what the AMA fears…that too many of us will come to that same conclusion. If you want to fly at an AMA field, then you have to be a member. But if you merely decide to fly smaller stuff, electrics most likely, then the “value” of an AMA membership becomes a lot less tangible. There’s the insurance, but only after your own is exhausted. There’s Muncie and the museum, but only if you go there. As for the rest on this list:

      How many change your day to day flying?

    1. Does this not suggest we go back to business as usual and registration is no longer a requirement for “Model Aircraft”?

      1. Hi Pete,

        Registration is still being mandated by the FAA and you could face civil and criminal penalties if you do not register.

  14. Why can’t the AMA state that they are fighting to remove the need to register? I have yet to see it clearly stated. All I read is a bunch of double speak and chest thumping about how hard they are fighting. I have been a member for a long time and am severely disappointed with how this whole thing has been handled.

    1. They are not necessarily trying to remove the need to register. Granted that would be the ideal outcome, but they are negotiating right now and part of that is a give and take process. The FAA really wants registration so the AMA is leaning toward using AMA membership info as that registration with the FAA. It gives the FAA what they want and it’s not an undue burden on the membership. It would be automatic as long as you’re an AMA member and there would not be a $5.00 fee. It’s my understanding that this is their current goal.

      Winning a court judgment could make it all null and void but they need to proceed as if they may lose that judgment.

  15. What part of you must register don’t people understand? It is very clear both here and on the FAA site, you are only registering yourself as a pilot of an unmanned aerial vehicle. You need only attach a copy of the registration # somewhere on each aircraft you intend to fly and carry a copy of your registration with you. Here is what I do, get some blank business cards and print out all your information and then attach them to the inside of the aircraft. The FAA does not need to have a law passed, they just make the rules based on the authority given them by Congress. If they had to wait for congress to approve every rule they think is needed to maintain the safety of air travel there would be planes falling out of the sky everywhere. I don’t support what they are doing but they have the upper hand right now.

    1. Clifford,

      Would you please direct me to these “very clear both here and on the FAA site” statements?

      In the latest info I can find, the suggestion is that the latest bill that has passed the committee process and relating to “Model Aircraft” (Ref. AIRR Act Sec. 45507 “Model Aircraft”) doesn’t seem to mention or is “very clear” regarding model aircraft or operator registration. Furthermore it appears to mirror the previous 336 legislation.

      My previous comment was only meant to solicit any comments that the AMA might have regarding this latest AIRR bill and FAA registration requirements that is presently before the House – H.R.4441

      1. Ignore AIRR right now. It has no legal bearing. It is not a law (yet). It passed through a committee but has not had a vote in either the House or the Senate.

        People currently have 4 choices.

        1- Register and fly as you did before, following the AMA rules.
        2- Don’t register and risk a fine when you fly.
        3- Fly indoors. FAA has no authority over indoor airspace.
        4- Park everything till it’s sorted out.

  16. AMA guidance that free flight models are exempt from registration may be in error. The FAA UAS Registration Q&A website
    ( states that:

    “Q17. I fly model aircraft that are not typically directly controlled during flight, but that can be set up to operate autonomously using various means, including on-board systems. These are collectively called “free flight” aircraft. Do I need to register them?

    A. Yes, if they are more than 0.55 pounds. In a notice issued October 19, 2015 the Secretary and the Administrator clarified that because unmanned aircraft, including those used in model aircraft operations, are aircraft, they are subject to the statutory requirement for aircraft registration. The term unmanned aircraft system is set forth in broad terms to include elements required for the safe and efficient operation of the unmanned aircraft in the NAS. So, while free flight aircraft not always under direct control by a pilot during fight, these aircraft are part of an unmanned aircraft system because they contain design elements and/or devices that allow it to be controlled by on-board systems or other self-controlling mechanisms. These control devices, which enable free-flight aircraft to operate safely in the NAS, are necessarily part of an unmanned aircraft system.”

    The AMA should revisit its guidance on free flight models with the FAA, otherwise free flight modelers may find themselves facing penalties for failure to register.

    1. This is evolving daily and we will continually seek clarification on issues like this.

      Being a part of the UAS Registration Task Force and based on our conversations with the FAA, we still understand it that generally traditional FF models are not considered as UAS. Even with a dethermalizer, the model is not “autonomous” and cannot be “operated” or “controlled” in the airspace as described in Q17. A FF modeler can play it safe and add a UAS number to their aircraft, but we do not think FF models fit the UAS definition.

  17. I have read with much interest, this continuing discussion of fact, interpretation, and misinterpretation. Often the answer I find most reasonable is contained in conclusions AMA has reached based on discussions with FAA (i.e.”— based on our conversations with the FAA, we still understand it that generally traditional FF models are not considered as UAS.”)

    How are these “conversations” documented and will they stand the legal test if and/or when we find ourselves facing “enforcement action” – especially when flying in direct conflict with the explicit FAA words concerning the “400 foot” ceiling issue?

    1. As for the 400 ft thing—-Will entrants for the Sailplane Nats who have registered with FAA be restricted to flying under 400 ft since that’s what we agreed to when we registered? How about entrants who are not FAA registered–can they fly above 400 ft? I know, this is nuts.

      1. I would like to have an answer on the 400 ft question, as I imagine all of the sailplane pilots.

  18. Chad,
    the AIRR act, HR. 4441 has a very specific statement in section 441 that concerns “EVALUATION OF AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION FOR SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.” This section calls into action the review of metrics, and further strengthening in forms of “improvements” defined is 441.c.2 . Can you tell us what exactly is the AMA doing, or advocating for as it pertains to the registration? Is it believed that this bill (HR 4441) is being put in place to alleviate the registration for model aircraft in the future?

    1. This legislation will help preserve and strengthen CBOs and the Special Rules for Model Aircraft.

      Some of the key talking points we are suggesting in this House version (and in the Senate version to be released later) include better defining CBOs, tasking the FAA to acknowledge CBOs and their safety programs, expanding protections for education, and provide a better solution for the airport notification process.

      1. Chad,

        Mark asked about the bill alleviating the need to register model aircraft in the future. In your reply, you list the AMA talking points for the House version, none of which include alleviating the need for registration. Does this mean that the AMA is not pursuing using this legislation as a means to alleviate the need to register model aircraft in the future?

        1. The early drafts of the legislation does not specifically repeal UAS registration. Instead this legislation will help us long term. It further strengthens and builds upon the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which will be helpful with future regulations and our current petition with the US Court of Appeals. It will also task the FAA to officially recognize us as a CBO and our safety program.

          1. Hi Chad,

            While I agree the AIRR does not specifically repeal the FAA registration requirement don’t you think that it definitely addresses and if passed would replace any existing FAA regulations regarding operation of “Model Aircraft”?
            And if so, I don’t read anything in that bill that addresses “Model Aircraft Operators and Registration”. Do you?

          2. Chad,

            What is the AMA official position on removing the requirement for FAA registration? If AMA opposes Registration, say so and enlighten us, “the members”, on what action is being taken to remove the requirement… As a side note, it appears that you support FAA registration—could be wrong, but that is how your responses appear to me…

  19. Chad- please keep in mind, NONE of this regulation/ registration stuff should be LAW as per sec.336.
    If you dont have to sign up for the draft anymore,then why should you have to sign up to fly model airplanes?
    Just a thought : if the FAA desires people to sign up as sUAS pilots then their website should say that, not, “register your drone”. Then if people VOLUNTEER, send them a wallet card with a # and safe flying principals on it and a nice
    magazine.(sound familier)?
    Again,this should not be LAW. as our voice, kee up the fight for common sense.

  20. Chad,

    Thank you for your continued efforts.

    Reading the last issue of model aviation AMA president Bob Brown asked if members would contact the legislature to voice our concerns for the hobby in the near future.

    If it is not already in work a well written AMA form letter could be very persuasive outlining key points such as, but not limited too:
    1-AMA’ long standing safe record.
    2-AMA’s safe guidelines
    3-AMA successful self regulating approach
    4-Protecting the model aircraft hobby which is a conduit for cultivating future engineers & aerospace professionals
    5-Enphasizing AMA members should be exempt from point less FAA regulation because our members are already abiding to the spirit and intent of sound education, training, safety & common sense flight protocol.

    Having a well crafted AMA form letter that members can forward a consistent & well crafted message to our federal legislature could be very powerful. My aerospace employer has successfully executed this approach numerous times with the federal legislature, the last being regarding the Ex-Im-bank.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    1. Hi Lee!

      We always welcome members to write their Legislators as frequently as possible. We are working on a sample letter as you suggest. At this time, we are planning on mobilizing our membership to write Congress when the revised Special Rule for Model Aircraft goes back to a final vote. We will provide our members with easy access to their Legislators via a zip code and sample text.

  21. Passage of the AIRR as written may not be the rosy deal AMA would lead us to believe because it includes a provision to privatize air traffic control in the national airspace. As a retired federal employee, I am familiar with the consequences of privatization. Handing over ATC to the private sector is a worse deal than privatizing the post office. Privatization will harm general aviation. If it harms general aviation, it will also harm model aviation. The AMA needs to rethink its support for passage of the AIRR in its present form.

  22. AIRR act was killed by the House, mainly over the proposal to privatize the air traffic control system and the labor implications of such a move. [That was a poison pill in my opinion.] The Senate will come up with it’s own bill over the next few months. The current FAA authorization law will be probably be extended without amendment. No telling what the model aviation component of a Senate bill might look like. It could get added to a reconciliation bill. In any case it may be a long time before a law is passed and we know what the affect on model aviation is.

  23. FYI This H.R. 4441 also includes language that privatizes the Traffic Controllers! So it is safe to say with this President this is pretty much dead in the water! Nice try.

  24. I refuse to register with the FAA. Too much FAA intrusion into my professional life already. My hobby activity has been reduced to flying RC glow powered aircraft under 8.8. ounces and control line.

    What a fine job the AMA has done for it’s membership! You think you guys could at least get the minimum size set a little higher, 8.8 ounces is pretty small. Maybe 10, 12 or even 16 ounces?

    I’ve been modeling for almost 50 years and am seriously beginning to question why I should re-new my AMA membership. Don’t need a club field or insurance for 8.8 oz models. I don’t compete, I don’t read the magazine (all electric and giant scale), and the government representation seems to have been a worthless benefit. What’s the point?

    I’ll wait a little bit longer before I decide. I pray for positive developments.

  25. It seems to me that this is a classic registration gotcha.
    The registration monitoring/enforcement will not be put into effect until the govt wants to take (any) action. Like gun “control” the sane and non-criminal citizen will carry the burden while the criminals will do as they please – sine cure. In our case it will be the careless, untrained, and criminal flyers.

  26. What is AMA’s position on the lawsuit initiated by John Taylor against the FAA and its violation of the special rule, and why hasn’t the AMA also pursued such a venue? Also what is the state of AMA’s previous lawsuits?

    I am disappointed at AMA’s apparent lack of transparency to its members on these matters. Could you shed some light?

  27. This AIRR Act is a terrible bill!

    First, it does NOTHING to provide relief against the intrusive and onerous registration of modelers. Registration, which must be renewed every 3 years!

    Second, it privatizes air traffic control and puts 80% of the board-seats into the hands of the airlines. The other 20% goes into the hands of airline-pilots. You may as well hand the hen-house keys to the foxes since they’re the ones complaining about UAVs.

    Basically, this is a massive new bill, which grows government! What’s next? Mandated transponders for our models? It’s the next logical step . . . but nobody is saying. Where will the AMA be on that proposal when it comes up? Frankly, it’s my opinion meekly doing what the Transportation Subcommittee Chair wants, like AMA is proposing by asking us to support the AIRR Act, borders on organizational malfeasance because we get nothing.

    Here’s what I believe folks. First, AMA should take a page out of the NRA-handbook and exercise power, which the Congress fears. How many modelers are there in America, a million, more? That is power if it’s organized the way the NRA organizes its members to target vulnerable Congressmen and Senators (to our way of thinking).

    Thus, if the AMA is serious about representing us, the second thing the AMA should do is identify one single vulnerable US Congressman. There are 435 plus 100 senators so how hard can it be?

    Third, using its tools for contacting modelers and clubs (it’s database of names and addresses), AMA should organize the vote in that one district (or multiple districts so as not to put all our eggs in one basket). E.g. where there are enough modelers to affect the election – think crowded places like Central Florida, or wherever they figure we have leverage. Fourth, call on us to act on it as one, come November 2016.

    Me? I believe the mere threat will be enough but if not, then if we defeat one single Congressman (and possibly affect the balance of power in the House of Representatives), well ‘then’ we can have a productive conversation with the House Transportation Subcommittee about the FAA messing around with modelers, believe me!

    Meanwhile, calling your Congressman in support of this AIRR Act means we get nothing. Worse, the AMA acting like it somehow strengthens modelers is bunch of hooey! Tell s how it helps us. Anything, one single thing modelers get, please share it with us!

    Bottom line? This AIRR Act does nothing for the cause of modelers, many who merely want to rid of the this new, intrusive, and onerous requirement to register modelers. Have you realized it’s not the models being registered but we the modelers ourselves?

    So yes, call your Congressman . . . but do it to register your strong DISAPPROVAL of the AIRR Act. And while you’re at it, make the promise of asking all your friends, everyone at work, everyone in your church, everyone at your model airplane club, your civic clubs, etc. to vote against them if they support this travesty of a bill.

    Folks, the organized vote is the only power politicians respect (fear). Come November, if AMA gets off it’s tail we have a golden opportunity to make them back off this registration thing before they get us in the bureaucratic-noose the FAA wants to use. Doing nothing right now is unconscionable. You’ve been warned.

    John Beech
    AMA #47318

  28. The FAA has limited it’s regulation to “drones” controlled from the ground while leaving the door wide open to similar types of unmanned aircraft not controlled from the ground and instead navigating by pre-programmed GPS way points. As a commercial helicopter pilot and aero modeler, I consider autonomous operated aircraft without see and avoid capability a much greater risk than an aircraft under active human control within visual line of sight.

  29. Registering drones and rc aircraft is the same weird idea that the FAA as registering guns. The law biding rc family must suffer for the lawlessness of non AMA members. If a drone has no registration number on it how are the going to find out who it belongs to.

  30. It’s very clear why the registration is occurring but not what you think. The FAA is under immense pressure to allow commercial drone deliveries in urban areas. Do you think Amazon want’s their drones to go down because of a foamie park flier?

    These areas will become ‘flyways’. Contemporary flying fields will become unusable as flyways are expanded and modelers will have almost zero input on the matter of airspace.

    So, in order to make sure someone is held accountable WHEN this occurs, we all need to register.

  31. Is the registration just for Drones or is it for all model aircraft over .55 pounds?

    1. ALL model aircraft, regardless of aerodynamic means, are now labeled as “drones”, like it or not.

  32. This is slightly off topic – I think the “know before you fly” concept is a good one – however, may I suggest that “know before you BUY” might be better?

  33. Maybe not the correct place for this, but could someone please clearly tell me how to register a model air raft over 55 lbs? I have called the AMA and was told I was the first to inquire about this. Really??? No assistance was given other than to follow the instructions on the FAA we site. HELP please.

  34. Here is the intrinsic problem we as citizenry and modelers face. The Congress is tasked with making law. However recently Congress has more and more allowed this to become the purview of the administrations within government that are tasked with the public safety and good. This has been also allowed by the Judicial courts (Supreme Court) and undermines the intention of the constitution’s creators in a separation of duties within our government. There is also a problem with the Bill or Rights which states that no one be subject to unreasonable penalty or fines and the ($27000.00 and up to 10 years in prison) fine for not complying with the FAA registration of sUAS’s falls squarely within this realm. We as citizens of the United States must take action to return the act of law to Congress and honor the Bill of Rights as it was intended. I know that the FAA feels the registration process will aid them in prosecuting those who do not follow good modeling practices and protect those they are tasked with keeping safe. This seems to be the same mentality that is taken by other government agencies whose responsibility it is to protect the populace from harm. Here is a snippet from a commentary by Justice Ginsburg. There are other areas not mentioned by me that lean pro and con to the Congressional responsibilities for law making.

    “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”
    — Article I, Section 1

    This comment states that all Law making be done by the Congress of the United States and as such cannot be delegated.

    The Eighth amendment to the Constitution in the Bill of Rights states…

    “that excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”

    Allowing these to be infringed is the crux of our problems folks.

  35. You guys at the AMA better link up with AOPA and EAA, and get on the same page. We will never support a bill that privatizes ATC or introduces user fees. The same day I heard about this in AMA Today, I heard that the AIRR was dead in committee from other sources. Start working on getting this information out there sooner. I didn’t see anything about this on your Facebook page.

  36. I’m just getting back into R/C and registered before the deadline and had my $5 refunded within 2 days. Let this play out and reason prevail. The morons with drones that interfere with firefighting and law enforcement efforts brought this on and will be the ones ultimately to pay the price. I am an A&P mechanic and know how slow the FAA responds to reasonable demands.

  37. Essentially it comes to this! If I simply continue to enjoy my hobby as I have done for many years without even annoying anyone, let alone cause anything or anyone any damage or injury other than some of my own airplanes that have crashed (many of these years without even being a member of the AMA, Oh My!), I now become a criminal due to some overbearing governmental bureaucratic bull$hit. No thanks! I for one will take a stand (I realize it will affect no-one else but me) and I guess sell off what I have as opposed to “registering” with the Feds. What’s going on with more government intrusion in our every day lives Kinda rings reminiscent of some aspects I have read about regarding society as a whole in pre WWII Nazi Germany. Bottom line. Anyone want to buy some airplanes?

  38. The threat posed by UAS is miniscule compared to the threat from geese and seagulls. The FAA edict is asinine governmental overreach.

    What was the motivation? Did the administration decide regulation was a justifiable use of administrative power and so gave marching orders to the media to emphasize every UAS incident to justify the FAA’s “mandate?”

    Or did the FAA/current administration see UAS incidents as a golden opportunity to curry favorable PR with a generally uninformed public?

    All to give the the Man in the Empty Suit a reason to thump his hollow chest during a photo op?

    Or both?

    Because it surely will do nothing to enhance public safety.

    1. I truly believe that the FAA tried to write rules to control improperly operated multi-rotor aircraft,commonly referred to as “DRONES”.As part of their regulations they are required to define a “DRONE” and that is where we ,the airplane flyer ,got caught up in this mess .I don’t know if the FAA does not care about us (the airplane flier) or is to lazy ,overworked, or just to ignorant of the difference between airplanes and multi-rotor aircraft to care and try to correct an obvious problem .I believe the latter is true because the are somewhat receptive to comments made by our AMA .They just need to get their act together in order to satisfy everyone .

  39. My amazing lawyer of 45 years, several patent and contractual disputes has told me find another hobby or get a new lawyer.
    I paid him to give me an opinion on the FAA regulation.
    His opinion was I would loose basic constitutional rights unique to models aviation.
    Also, he is a glider pilot.

  40. So…I’m still confused. I have been trying to read up on AIRR…but I’m not too sure on who it helps. I fly an Inspire pro…and I cannot get a exempt 333 because I lack a pilots license and I also fly solo. So for now I’m chomping at the bits to fly commercially. But i have read that AIRR is only going to help micro drones…such as the phantoms or smaller. Does that mean if passed those would be exempt from 333 and can fly commercially? Because if that’s the case…I’ll have to sell off the inspire pro in favor of starting up commercially. Or will inspire pilots get any love? Or does this bill not address any of that?

    I really want to start commercially but the FAA has made it downright impossible at the moment.

  41. I understand that in the near future the question of renewing the FAA’s authority to create rules and regulations governing their area of responsibility shall come up for renewal by the powers that be .If in fact their authority is renewed will that give them the ability to ignore any new regulations concerning model aircraft ?Has the AMA thought of this aspect of our mutual problem ?

  42. HR 4441 is the number

    Mark Williams
    UFO flying club
    Highland, MI

  43. My main concern is not The FAA’s silly registration or the $5.00 fee. What bothers me is history; which shows that Federal agencies seldom are satisfied with the present. Once they have their foot in the door they just keep pushing. What makes anyone think that they won’t do the same with RC aviation. The temptation is just too great. Five dollars becomes ten dollars, 500 ft. becomes 400 ft. A single registration becomes one for each model. Why not? It sure has been true enough in the past.
    Therefore, I say fight tooth and nail to prevent the FAA from making any inroads into our hobby or be prepared to find another one. At least until some government flunkey finds that one too.

  44. Almost a month and no update from the AMA, so we can assume no progress on getting rid of the FAA’s unlawful overreach into Model Aircraft and their registration requirement.

    My AMA membership has now lapsed, and I will not rejoin until the AMA makes good on their promise and stops capitulating to the FAA. To add insult in injury, the tremendous dues increase was to pay for all the action by the AMA to prevent just this type of action. Lots of good that did…

    I will keep checking back, and when the registration requirement goes away, I will come back to the AMA.

  45. Its not necessarily the FAA. ITS from the TOP DOWN.ITS the
    Aunt Jemima Effect. LATER Captn Don

  46. USA teliban is now brought to you by lies and nothing more,wake up

  47. Ok Now Time to build drone shelters.Have you built your drone shelter yet? Like yesterday I thought I could see dozens of drones coming over the horizion.- – – Then I woke up and they were gone.
    And now Das England is being attacked by drone hit on an airliner. The pilot thought he hit a drone . Yes it brought the aircraft down to the runway with a normal landing.
    There was severe destruction of authorities and pilot attitudes.
    That is all for now. Captn Don

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