As you may have heard, Congress recently released a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. This bill is the result of closed-door negotiations between leadership of the House and Senate and includes significant modifications to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336. While some of the changes are positive, and include provisions that AMA has championed, other changes would land a devastating blow to competitions and disciplines that have operated safely in our hobby for decades. Overall, the new recreational regulations will put even more restrictions on our community in the coming months and years.
The entire FAA Reauthorization can be read HERE (Model Aircraft/UAS regulations found in section 349 on page 282). We have also provided a breakdown of current Section 336 regulations versus the new Section 349 regulations.
Current Public Law 112-95 Section 336
- the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
- the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community- based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
- the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization (See AMAs Safety Programing for full list of current requirements);
- the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
- when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport))
Changes in Proposed Law H.R. 302 Section 349
- There is no longer a 5-mile airport notification requirement (see new authorization requirements below).
- There are no requirements to notify or seek authorization in Class G airspace, however flights in Class G airspace will be restricted to 400 feet.
- In Class B, C, D, and E airspace, recreational users must obtain authorization from the FAA or a designee (most likely an FAA LAANC app), unless operating from a fixed flying site. If flying from a flying field in classes B, C, D, or E, the site may be permitted to fly above 400 feet above ground level if the ATC approves.
- In class B, C, D, and E, AMA must share our flying site locations to the FAA.
- In class B, C, D, and E, flying sites shall establish a mutually agreed upon procedures with the Air Traffic Control (ATC).
- Large Model Aircraft (weighing more than 55 lbs.) operations are restricted to fixed flying sites.
- Creates criteria for the FAA to determine what/who meets the criteria of a CBO.
- Gives CBOs a stronger role in shaping future regulations, training/testing, and consulting the FAA.
- CBOs shall coordinate with the FAA on safety programming.
- Gives FAA the authority to implement remote identification, but it isn’t prescriptive. This bill does not currently mandate remote ID equipage, beacons, or other specifics.
- Everyone must take an aeronautical knowledge and safety test, but AMA can administer the test to its members.
- Clarifies that FPV operations are permitted within AMA programing.