AMA Helps Clubs Attain Higher Altitudes

Currently, clubs with flying sites in controlled airspace are assigned an altitude to fly at between 0 feet Above Ground Level (AGL) and 400 feet AGL on the FAA UAS Facility Map. Some clubs in controlled airspace might want to fly at a higher altitude than what is assigned to them. In order to gain this approval, a Safety Risk Management (SRM) panel will need to be completed. During an SRM panel, two or three club members meet with AMA, FAA, and groups such as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), the Experiential Aircraft Association (EAA), the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), as well as the local Air Traffic Control (ATC) representative. Together, they discuss any potential flight risks that the club’s flying site could present to the local airspace and mitigations that can be implemented to reduce those risks. After the panel has concluded, the club will sign a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with its local ATC that states the new altitude limit under which the club will be able to operate. So far, 100% of clubs that have participated in the SRM process have received higher altitudes. These altitudes range from 200 feet AGL to 2,000 feet AGL.

Completing an SRM panel can sound daunting for those that are unfamiliar with the process. So, AMA reached out to club members who have participated in a panel and asked them to give testimonial statements regarding the process to share with members and clubs that might participate in an SRM panel in the future. You can read excerpts from these testimonials in the following:

“Without the help of AMA Headquarters’ staff and District XI VP, and the support of the EAA representative and the Deer Park Airport Manager, I would not have been nearly as well prepared for the Panel Review. The club has flown RC safely at our site for 35 years, in the midst of full-size aircraft operations. Our new member information packet and our historical record paved the way for our LOA approval. I simply took on the task of being the mouthpiece for our club”

Stan, Barons Model Club

“We believe that there were several reasons for our success.  First, we laid the foundation for mutual respect between all the participating organizations, and second, we truly believe in the safety foundation our club has built.”

Mitch and Ed, Phantom Flyers RC MAC

“My mind was set at ease when Tyler Dobbs and Chrystal Pearson from the AMA contacted me and wanted to set up a pre-SRM Zoom meeting to go over what to expect at the actual FAA SRM Zoom meeting. All together, we had two pre-Zoom meetings with the AMA. Keep in mind if your club is requested to participate in an SRM meeting, you are not alone; the AMA will be there to help.”

Thomas, 107th RC Flyers

“With panel recommendations implemented into the new LOA, AMA flying sites will improve airspace safety. The HOTMAC outcome was very favorable as the panel allowed our altitude to be restored back to 1,500 feet.”

Stephen, Heart of Texas Miniature Aircraft Club (HOTMAC)

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