If you are new to the hobby, or are simply unsure of the requirements you must meet before flying your model aircraft, this guide will help you understand everything you need to know. AMA members operate under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations of Unmanned Aircraft (USC 44809). This guide will detail those requirements as well as cover Remote Identification requirements.
The first thing you need to do is to make sure that you understand what it means to fly recreationally. Recreational flight is simply flying for fun or personal enjoyment. Flying for any other reason is not considered to be recreational. Operations outside of recreational flying must take place under Part 107, the default regulation for operating any type of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) weighing less than 55 pounds. The only caveat to this rule would be for those flying for educational purposes. Institutions of higher education, JROTC programs, and educational programming through AMA clubs can all fly under USC 44809.
Note: Keep in mind the FAA uses the term ‘drone’ to describe all types of UAS, including model aircraft. This is often confusing for those who fly traditional model aircraft.
USC 44809 RULES FOR RECREATIONAL FLIERS
- Fly only for recreational purposes.
- Follow AMA’s Safety Guidelines.
- Fly your aircraft within your visual line-of-sight (VLOS) or within the VLOS of your spotter.
- Give way to, and do not interfere with, any manned aircraft.
- Obtain airspace authorization before operating in controlled airspace.
- Fly at or below 400 feet in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace unless you’re flying at a waivered AMA sanctioned event.
- For help understanding the differences in types of airspace, click here.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage. The test can be taken for free at www.modelaircraft.org/trust.
- Have a current FAA registration and mark the exterior of your aircraft with the registration number. To register with the FAA, visit faadronezone-access.faa.gov.
- For help registering with FAA, use AMA’s step-by-step guided walkthrough.
- FAA registration costs only $5 and needs renewed every three years.
- You do not need to register your aircraft if it weighs at or less than .55 pounds (250 grams).
The FAA published the Final Rule for Remote ID in January 2021. Recreational fliers will need to comply with Remote ID requirements beginning September 16, 2023. There are three ways to comply with Remote ID, which are outlined below:
- Standard Remote ID
- Broadcast equipment is built into your Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) by the manufacturer.
- Broadcast Modules
- If your UAS is older, homebuilt, or is purchased without Standard Remote ID, a broadcast module option is available.
- FAA-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA)
- Fly at an established FRIA site.
Note: AMA’s Clubs department is submitting FRIA applications on behalf of AMA clubs. If your club has not received an email from the Clubs department or has questions about the FRIA application process, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This might seem like a lot of information to remember. But if you remember these four main takeaways, you will be all set to fly safely in the airspace:
- Follow AMA Safety Guidelines
- Complete TRUST
- Register with the FAA
- Comply with Remote ID beginning in September of 2023
To remain current with the most recent government-related news, regularly visit the AMA Government Affairs blog. If you have any further questions or concerns, contact the Government Affairs department at (765) 287-1256 or email@example.com.