Proposed sUAS rule
In a telephonic press conference held Sunday, February 15, 2015, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced
FAA’s long-awaited proposed regulation for the operation of
small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS).
If instituted, the proposed rule would establish the safety
regulations and procedures for operating nonrecreational,
unmanned aircraft weighing 55 pounds or less.
The rule would limit flights to less than 100 mph, below 500
feet, during daylight hours only, and within visual line of sight
of the operator. sUAS operators would also be required to pass
an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain a sUAS operator’s
In accordance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft
established by Congress, the
new rules would not apply to
model aircraft operated within
the safety programming of a
organization. This is good
news for AMA members;
however, model aircraft
operators must continue
to satisfy all of the criteria
specified in the Special Rule,
including the stipulation
that that model aircraft be
operated only for hobby or
recreational purposes and
must remain within visual
line of sight.
The Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (NPRM) does reference FAA’s interpretation of
the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, published in June 2014,
and asserts FAA’s authority to use existing regulations to
enforce unsafe acts that endanger the National Airspace System
(NAS). This would include the use of regulations such as 14
CFR 91. 13 that prohibits the careless and reckless operation
of an aircraft and other regulations that relate to yielding
the right-of-way to manned aircraft and operations within
The AMA has taken exception to several aspects of FAA’s
interpretation, which led to AMA petitioning the U.S. District
• Asserts model aircraft to be “aircraft” as defined in U.S.
Code Title 49 and in Sec. 331 of the FAA Modernization and
Reform Act of 2012, and effectively makes model airplanes
subject to all regulations applicable to aircraft.
• Makes model aircraft subject to airspace requirements and
restrictions that have never been applicable in the past and
with which it is impossible or impractical to comply.
• Effectively changes the criteria for operating within 5 miles
of an airport from the stated requirement of providing prior
“notification” to a requirement of obtaining prior permission.
• Narrowly defines “hobby and recreation” and puts in
question the activities of the supporting aeromodeling industry
and AMA’s educational programs.
• Rigidly defines the requirement to operate within visual
line of sight and targets the use of a specific aeromodeling
technology/equipment, namely first-person view (FPV) goggles.
Overall, the AMA views the proposed sUAS rule as a
positive step toward enabling the civil operation of unmanned
aircraft in the NAS. We encourage members to submit
comments supporting the proposed rule and commending
the FAA for appropriately separating model aviation from
the new regulation. However, AMA would also encourage
members to include in their comments the need to resolve
the discrepancies stemming from the Interpretive Rule before
finalizing the sUAS rule.
Comments on the proposed sUAS rule can be made by
going to www.regulations.gov and searching for Docket No.
FAA-2015-0150; Notice No. 15-01. Read the proposed rule
carefully and submit comments on areas where you have a
concern as well as thoughtful and productive comments in
areas where you feel there could be improvement.
Unless extended, the public comment period is open for
60 days. The deadline for submitting comments is 11: 59 p.m.
Friday, April 24, 2015.
Government and Regulatory Affairs
“… the new
rules would not
apply to model
within the safety
of a nationwide
15 Model Aviation APRIL 2015 www.ModelAviation.com
Rich Hanson provides answers to
your questions on the government-relations section of our website: www.
modelaircraft.org/gov. Visit regularly for
Rich’s blog contains information on
timely topics and news items. Check
out the AMA government relations blog
amagov. This complex issue affects the
entire aeromodeling community.
ADVOCATING ON YOUR BEHALF