ON MARCH 8, 2023, AMA announced that it had finalized a process with the FAA that now allows for higher-altitude operations at our sanctioned events in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace. This new uncontrolled airspace waiver process is really step two of a multistep process.
When Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, AMA immediately began working with the FAA to obtain higher altitudes at our clubs’ fixed sites in controlled airspace. That effort has resulted in dozens of sites being permitted to fly higher than the FAA UAS Facility Map permits—up to 2,000 feet in many locations.
This second phase now allows AMA contest directors and event managers to request an altitude waiver in uncontrolled airspace up to the upper threshold of Class G airspace—700 feet or 1,200 feet, depending on your location. Because of the streamlined nature of this waiver process, AMA anticipates quick approvals for these events.
AMA is not finished. We are now working on obtaining even higher altitudes, not just for events but for day-to-day model aircraft operations.
Sanctioned events have always been an excellent way to introduce newcomers to the hobby. AMA is happy to lead the way with this effort and will continue to advocate on behalf of AMA membership and the hobby in general.
Congressman States That Model Aviation Rules Need Recalibrated
On March 9, 2023, the House Aviation Subcommittee hosted a congressional hearing on general aviation issues for the upcoming FAA Reauthorization. Congressman Rudy Yakym, the vice chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, worked with the AMA Government Affairs team regarding his question to the panel.
Vice Chairman Yakym made a statement that model aviation played a critical role in his life and career and that, in addition to inspiration, model aviation is the pipeline to many aviation careers. Congressman Yakym also stated that the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 introduced many restrictions to our hobby and those restrictions need to be recalibrated in the 2023 reauthorization.
AMA appreciates Congressman Yakym’s leadership and willingness to support model aviation. AMA also wants to thank EAA’s CEO, Jack Pelton, for highlighting the important role model aviation has in the overall aviation pipeline.
I encourage everyone to visit www.modelaircraft.org/gov. There you will find both a blog post and a video regarding this House Aviation Subcommittee hearing.
Night Operations Resume in Controlled Airspace
AMA recently released a UAS night training program that gives the option of watching a 2-minute AMA training video, learning through introductory pilots, or practicing with a club’s safety officer. Most will likely satisfy this requirement by watching the video at www.modelaircraft.org/night-operations; however, hands-on practicing is always a good idea as well.
With the release of this new AMA night training program, the FAA began authorizing night operations in controlled airspace for recreational users. As many of you know, night operations in controlled airspace had been prohibited since 2018, and AMA is happy to have assisted in developing a path to allow these operations to resume.
AMA members can download UASidekick or another LAANC app to obtain airspace authorization in controlled airspace (for both day and/or night).