How the New Bill Could Affect Our Hobby

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was passed by Congress and expected to be signed by the President soon. Once this legislation is enacted into law, there will be a transition period which means we will still operate under elements of Section 336, but we’re not sure of the timeline.  Please continue to follow AMA for updates as the regulations affect our hobby.

While some of the changes are positive, and include provisions that AMA has championed, other changes AMA does not support.  We will continue to  advocate for a resolution that does not harm our hobby.  Thank you to the AMA members who wrote Congress, which opened doors for AMA to petition for changes.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 includes the following positive provisions and improvements:

  • The five-mile airport notification rings are removed, which was a burdensome and often misinterpreted mandate.
  • Congress more clearly defines community-based organizations (CBOs) and tasks the FAA to recognize CBOs.
  • CBOs, like AMA, are given a more prominent role in shaping future regulations.
  • Congress codifies elements of AMA’s safety programming into law, including the use of first person view.
  • There are no prescriptive Remote ID equipage mandates, which allows AMA to work with the FAA and others in Washington on a reasonable approach and threshold for this potential requirement.
  • Congress allocated $1 million every year to help support education campaigns such as Know Before You Fly, which AMA co-founded.
  • Congress recognizes the distinction between members of a CBO, like AMA, and those “outside the membership, guidelines, and programming” of a CBO. Congress tasks the FAA to consider different operating parameters for this non-CBO community.

At the same time, the legislation includes several problematic provisions. These issues must be addressed through legislation or regulatory changes:

  • The bill does not stop irresponsible drone operators – it only harms our safe and long-standing model aviation community, which has posed no new risk.
  • The bill removes the model aircraft definition and instead adopts a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation that lumps all hobbyists, toys, and the recreational community into one category – everything is simply unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
  • With no justification, AMA members can no longer fly over 400 feet in class G (rural airspace).
  • This will harm or kill our sailplane, turbine, aerobatic, and large model aircraft communities, which accounts for over 30% of our operations.
  • The 400-foot altitude cap also excludes AMA and the USA from participating or hosting many world aeromodeling events sanctioned by the FAI through the AMA and NAA.
  • This bill curtails events and harms charities, stifling youth involvement in STEM education. All of AMA’s language to protect middle school and high school STEM aeromodeling use need reinserted.
  • The legislation includes testing mandates, which raises many concerns. Federal and state regulations could hinder youth from participating in the testing requirement therefore denying them enjoyment of our hobby.
  • The bill opens the door to restrict our operations to flying sites.