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AMA publishes FAA letter about 400' rule

Discussion in 'News' started by ladykate, Jul 20, 2016.

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  1. ladykate

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    See: Academy of Model Aeronautics - Government Relations

    There has been a lot of confusion about this. Don't know if this completely clears it up but it does help. 400'+ ops are allowed under special circumstances (LOS, spotter, no obvious dangers to structures or aircraft).
     
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  2. V tail

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    Will this stop most of the, "you're flying too high making us all look bad." comments?
     
  3. ladykate

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    Absolutely. You won't hear another peep about it.
     
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  4. ksj

    ksj

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    This is a copy of the letter.


    [​IMG] Academy of Model Aeronautics
    Member Communication

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] Wednesday, July 20, 2016[​IMG] [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
    Dear Members,

    Our hobby has faced many challenges this year as we address an increase in government intervention and proposed regulations. AMA has been aggressively advocating for our hobby, and during the past few weeks, we've been happy to report successful progress.

    Today, our members have yet another AMA government advocacy victory to celebrate.

    There has been confusion among our members as to whether operations above 400 feet are permitted by the FAA. AMA has remained steadfast that the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act) permits operations above 400 feet if conducted within our safety program requiring the pilot to be an AMA member, to avoid and not interfere with manned aircraft, and to keep the model in visual line of sight of the pilot/observer.

    In January of this year, the AMA requested that the FAA clarify the 400-foot issue in writing. We are happy to share that in a recent letter to the AMA, the FAA recognized AMA's role as a community-based organization and acknowledged our safety program, including allowing flight above 400 feet under appropriate circumstances.

    In this letter, dated July 7, 2016, the FAA states:

    "...model aircraft may be flow consistently with Section 336 and agency guidelines at altitudes above 400 feet when following a community-based organization's safety guidelines."

    "Community-based organizations, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, may establish altitude limitations in their safety guidelines that exceed the FAA's 400 AGL altitude recommendation."

    Essentially, this letter confirms that sailplanes, large model aircraft, turbines, and other disciplines can responsibly operate above 400 feet if the AMA member is operating within our safety programming. Equally important, the FAA again acknowledges AMA as a community-based organization.

    This victory falls on the heels of other successful AMA efforts, including an AMA member exemption from the FAA's Final sUAS Rule (Part 107), the removal of problematic text in the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill, and preserving the Special Rule for Model Aircraft through 2017.

    These successes do not transpire easily and our advocacy efforts are not over. We will continue to work with the FAA toward reducing the burden of registration requirements on AMA members. Throughout the next 14 months, we will continue to work with Congress toward a long-term reauthorization bill that will further strengthen the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

    We want to extend our appreciation to all of our members and donors for your support throughout this process. To read the letter from the FAA clarifying the 400-foot guidance, visit www.modelaircraft.org/gov.

    Thank you,

    AMA Government Relations Team
     
  5. LosDosMonitos

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    I believe you have to be an AMA member to do this. I'm assuming the majority of drone pilots are not AMA.
     
  6. N017RW

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    Be an AMA member?, that's iffy, as it says "such as" [the AMA], but IMO in order to take advantage of one guideline you must follow all of them.
     
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  7. LosDosMonitos

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    I see what you're saying... but it mentions "operations above 400 feet if conducted within our safety program requiring the pilot to be an AMA member"

    That combined with...

    ""...model aircraft may be flow consistently with Section 336 and agency guidelines at altitudes above 400 feet when following a community-based organization's safety guidelines.""

    Not sure if they are saying as long as you follow the AMA guidelines you may fly above 400' or you have to be a member of AMA. Thoughts?
     
  8. N017RW

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    IMO that's because it's an AMA release.

    The AMA portion of the letter says "our", the FAA section (in italics) says "such as".

    But I'm no authority and see this to further embolden some to fly irresponsibly.
     
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  9. jmc67

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    The FAA cannot enforce or say that you have to be a member of the AMA. The AMA is not an agency of the government.
     
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  10. N017RW

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    The issue is there are other AMA guidelines which must also be met to allow exceeding the FAA's 400 ft guideline.
    Already one poster here has failed to realize this.
     
  11. tcope

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    Absolutely not. What the FAA mentions is that local limitations may apply. For example, lets say you are flying at an event and the event requires that you fly below 400' or at 450' or whatever... those local entities ("community") are perfectly fine to impose those restrictions. However, they still only apply to their event. That is, you could be disqualified, you could be asked to leave if on private property, etc. These local "guidelines" can't exceed the limitations the FAA has put in place. They can however, place a more strict limit on flight. Another example would be a local park. The park can state UAV's need to be flown within LOS. If you choose to ignore this, the park can ask you to leave.

    The AMA really has nothing to do with the FAA's statement. They probably mention them only because that is who they were writing to.
     
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  12. tcope

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    Just ignore what the AMA wrote as they are _only_ addressing their members. Follow the link to the FAA letter and read it there for the correct information.
     
  13. Morgon

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    Sooooo, what does it mean to be a community-based organization? Can we create a PhantomPilots "community-based organization" now? Can we all arbitrarily create our own individual ones and be 'covered'?

    I think most people here have a different idea of 'safety' than the FAA does (at least in the context of specific arbitrary limits), so it would seem that we'd be in the clear if we just followed a structured set of rules. Who wants to draw some up?
     
  14. LosDosMonitos

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    Thanks for the clarification! :)
     
  15. N42742

    Approved Vendor

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    And remember - this is just for recreational purposes. Commercial flight is not covered by this.
     
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  16. tcope

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    Thanks. Also, let me expand on this thought... as I was putting together a video last night on this subject...

    Section 336 gives the ability to local "community based" organizations to set further limitations on UAVs. Section 336 is _very_ vague. I'm guessing this is why local cities, towns and even states think that they can limit flight. However, in this new letter the FAA gives an example of these "communities" and mentions the AMA. Obviously the AMA cannot limit _everyone_ when flying UAVs. They can feel free to make certain things a requirement of their membership, events, etc. But it's clear that only the FAA can regulate airspace. I'm putting this together and seeing it as meaning _people_ on someone's property can be regulated locally... but their drone in the air cannot. I've always said this. The FAA is simply allowing local entities to regulate use of drones... but it _still_ needs to be within that entities legal authority. This also includes an entity (even a state) duplicating the current FAA regulations (they may just need to refer the infraction to the FAA).

    I'll post the video when I get it done. I think I'm on take 5 right now.
     
  17. Imabiggles

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    No you dont. The FAA can not grant special considerations to an organization.
     
  18. Falcon900

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