As things stand in regards to Section 336, the House passed their version of FAA Authorization back in April of 2018 and the Senate is feverishly working to get its version of the bill passed before the September 30, 2018 deadline. Even if the Senate does manage to get a bill passed, it is likely that a continuing resolution will push the timeframe of a final bill back until after the November elections. AMA has been making a final push to protect and preserve Section 336 – running targeted member email campaigns, meeting with key members of Congress on the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, speaking with the FAA UAS Integration Office and addressing remote identification concerns from security agencies (Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Homeland Security). We’ve been successful in pushing back against those calling for the repeal of Section 336, but we may still have a bumpy road in front of us.
As previously mentioned, the House passed its version of FAA Authorization, which included two amendments on Section 336. One amendment, the Sanford/Davis Amendment, was mostly favorable to our hobby. The second 336 amendment, the DeFazio Amendment, was basically a repeal of Section 336 and gave the FAA the authority to create new rules on those operating within AMA programing. This is where the aforementioned “bumpy road” comes in. Should the power in the House of Representatives flip in the upcoming November elections, Representative DeFazio (sponsor of the unfavorable 336 amendment) will likely become Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, giving him an enormous amount of influence over FAA Authorization, including Section 336. As chairman, Representative DeFazio would be in great position to incorporate his 336-amendment language into the House version of FAA Authorization. Even if Representative DeFazio does become Chairman, all is not lost! While the future may bring challenges we need to work through, we still have the support of many in Congress. AMA will continue to work with all members of Congress, including Representative DeFazio, addressing their concerns and sharing our 82 years of safe model aircraft operations.