After nearly a year of work, we are happy to announce that both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed a 14-month FAA extension, and President
Obama has signed the bill into law.
We are pleased that the FAA extension affirms our right
to continue to fly within AMA’s community-based safety
program and free from additional government regulations.
Congress continues to recognize the importance of AMA and
our strong commitment to safety.
As you know, AMA aggressively engaged with Congress
to achieve the best possible result for our members. It was
through these advocacy efforts that we were able to achieve
our goal of maintaining the Special Rule for Model Aircraft
and protecting our hobby. This victory adds to AMA’s history
of successfully advocating for our members at the federal level,
including with the Federal Communications Commission, the
Department of Commerce, the EPA, the Department of the
Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Homeland
Security, the FAA, and Congress.
There are two important things for AMA members to know
about the extension. The first—and most important for our
hobby—is that the extension preserves the Special Rule for
Model Aircraft (Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization
and Reform Act) through September 2017. And second,
although this bill does not address the regulatory requirement
to register model aircraft, we are pleased to share that the
problematic language that existed in earlier versions of the
FAA bill has been removed.
Our advocacy efforts are not over. We are continuing to
work with the FAA to reduce the burden of the registration
requirement on AMA members. Throughout the next 14
months, we will continue to work with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill that will further strengthen the
Special Rule for Model Aircraft and advance other protections
of our longstanding hobby.
We extend our appreciation to all of our members and
donors for your support throughout this process.
FAA Announces Final Rule on sUAS
In 2008, the AMA was invited to assist in developing
recommendations for new regulations addressing the operation
of sUAS. During the past eight years, we have consistently
espoused our view that there should be both a regulatory
path and a community-based approach to the operation of
recreational sUAS (model aircraft).
The AMA has been steadfast in its position that any FAA
rules exclude recreational model aviation activities occurring
within AMA’s community-based safety program. AMA has
also made it clear that to operate within our safety program,
you must join the AMA and affirm your willingness to comply
with the AMA Safety Code and related safety guidelines.
After years of work, the FAA released its final sUAS rule on
June 21, 2016. The rule will become effective on August 29,
We are pleased to share that this rule maintains the
exemption for recreational model aircraft operators provided
by Congress in Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization
and Reform Act, and codifies the Special Rule for Model
Aircraft into regulation. In fact, the rule affirms Congress’
intent that the FAA not promulgate any regulations on
modelers who satisfy the criteria in the Special Rule.
Essentially this rule excludes AMA members operating
within our safety program, while providing a regulatory
approach under 14 CFR Part 107 for sUAS operators who do
not choose or are not authorized to operate under Section 336
or the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
Although the rule does not change operations for AMA
members, it affirms our operation under the Special Rule for
Model Aircraft and the requirement to fully comply with
AMA’s Safety Code, related safety guidelines, and all of the
criteria in Section 336, including the 5-mile airport notification
Keep in mind that the new rule does not preclude the
federal registration requirement for model aircraft weighing
more than 1/2 pound. This is something the AMA is still
working to address.
Overall, we believe these rules will be highly beneficial to
the industry. I encourage our members to become familiar
with the rule, especially if you are interested in commercial or
civil operations. When this rule goes into effect on August 29,
the FAA will make it safer and easier for commercial and civil
Following are some frequently asked questions about the
FAA final rule.
Q: Where can I read FAA’s final rule for small unmanned
aircraft systems (Part 107)?
A: You can read the 624-page rule at www.modelaircraft.org/
gov or at www.faa.gov/uas/media/RIN_2120-AJ60_Clean_
Q: How does the new rule affect me as a member? Do I have to
take a special test, receive certification, be capped at 400 feet, etc.?
A: The FAA final rule generally applies to all commercial and
civil sUAS operations and any recreational activity that does
not “satisfy all of the criteria specified in section 336.” If you
12 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2016
Special Rule for Model Aircraft Remains Law