FAA decides to regulate RC models as real airplanes

[important]New FAA interpretation released – The AMA requests your help[/important]

The AMA is asking modelers to submit a comment protesting the FAA’s new interpretation of the laws regarding RC models.  Here is why: The FAA is authorized by old law to regulate all “flying contrivances used for navigating or flying”.  They are now claiming that includes model aircraft, even though model aircraft were not something congress would have considered at the time.  The FAA historically has not interpreted model aircraft to be the same thing as an actual aircraft until now, this month.  The agency also says a provision in the newest law which specifically prohibits them from regulating model aircraft does not prevent them from applying general aircraft rules to model aircraft, it only prevents them from creating new rules which solely and specifically address “Model Aircraft”. The FAA also seems to be interpreting a catch-all safety provision in the newest law as allowing them to enforce whatever safety rules on model aircraft they deem are necessary, despite a provision in the same law excluding model aircraft. The agency also said that a “flying contrivance” will not qualify as an exempted “model aircraft’ if its pilot is not personally looking directly at it, line of sight, with or without a spotter in an attempt to preclude FPV from “model aircraft”. Using such logic they could easily require everyone  to hold a pilot’s license before flying a kite or a paper airplane.

We have all heard of the atrocities that the TSA imposes on airline passengers.  Just imagine what crazy and goofy tortures they are thinking up for RC flyers. Do your part to help preserve the RC hobby. Use this link to submit a comment.  Most agencies probably don’t read or pay attention to such comments however if they see a large number of protest comments on a subject the agency might hold back out of fear that public backlash will stimulate Congress to side with voters.

Email message from AMA

Here is the first comment that I submitted:

“I want to protest FAA’s recent reinterpretation of the language of law regarding the meaning of the words “flying contrivance for navigating or flying” to include recreational model aircraft.  Congress clearly never intended the FAA to regulate model aircraft under the original FAA legal authority because at that time “navigating and flying” was understood as performed with manned aircraft, so Congress could not have considered that it had given the FAA authority to regulate model aircraft at that time.  Congress only considered the regulation of model aircraft in its most recent law, which is clearly worded to exclude the FAA from applying any new rules to model aircraft, including any rules formed by new interpretations.”

Please know that I support all of the comments and positions of the Academy of Model Aerodynamics (AMA) on this matter and I request the FAA change its interpretation to conform to all of the AMA’s positions.

Here is the second comment that I submitted:

“The FAA should not interpret the legal meaning of the words “contrivance used for flying or navigating” as having authorized the FAA to regulate RC models because those words are referring to flying in the sense of human guided transportation.  Indeed the word “transportation” is a common theme throughout the original law which adds context to the intended meaning of “contrivance used for flying”.  There was no pilotless flying at that time and there was no intent to regulate all man-made objects that might exist above ground level such as kites, golf balls, fireworks, towers or wires.  A toy aircraft model was considered to be just the same type of thing, a small object that happens to be suspended above ground for a few brief minutes. Toy model aircraft were not considered to be “flying” or “navigating”, they were just another object suspended above ground.

The subject of regulating a pilotless aircraft is entirely a modern concept.  It is the purpose of the newest law. The very fact that congress wrote the new law is evidence that the old law inadequately addressed the role of the old law in guiding FAA’s  regulation of pilotless aircraft such as RC models.”