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as the situation
For decades, AMA has had a tremendous safety record. For this reason, and based on the protections from Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act
that AMA helped pass into law, we do not believe that our
188,000 members should be subject to the UAS registration
rule. In Section 336, Congress recognized the effectiveness of
community-based safety guidelines and exempted recreational
hobbyists from any new regulations.
We are working with Congress and looking at legal options
to address registration. On a parallel path, we are advocating
directly with the FAA on behalf of our members to find a
On January 15, I joined AMA Government and Regulatory
Representative Rich Hanson, AMA President Bob Brown,
AMA Executive Vice President Gary Fitch, and AMA’s legal
counsel in a meeting with the FAA. During the visit, we
discussed several issues impacting the modeling community
including registration. We brought a list of our members’
concerns and asked the FAA for a clarification or a resolution
to these concerns. I will share some of the key takeaways from
We raised multiple questions about the guidelines pilots
must agree to during the registration process, such as the
requirement to fly below 400 feet. The FAA acknowledged
that AMA members should continue to follow AMA’s
community-based safety code. We also discussed, and the FAA
confirmed, that the language on the FAA registration site is
a guideline, not regulation. This guideline is not directed at
the AMA community, but rather it is a simplified set of safety
guidelines geared toward the general public.
We specifically addressed the 400-foot altitude limitation
and explained how, under appropriate circumstances, some
modeling activity necessarily occurs above 400 feet and other
activity occurs at altitudes designed to protect modelers and
spectators on the ground. The FAA understands that some
communities fly higher than the guideline and acknowledged
that AMA pilots can abide by their own safety code, which has
been proven to provide safe aeromodeling operations.
We also raised concerns with the FAA about a possibly
stricter registration process for large model airplanes that are
greater than 55 pounds, such as requiring an N number. The
FAA acknowledged these concerns, and we discussed possible
ways to revise the large model aircraft registration process.
Additionally, we discussed the numerous affiliate AMA
members, non-US citizens, non-US resident competitors, and
citizens who are currently away from the US who have not
been able to register on the FAA site. So far, the registration
site has not accepted foreign applications, foreign addresses,
or foreign IP addresses. The FAA shares our concern about
this. As I write this, the FAA is working on a solution, which is
expected in early February.
Many of our members have raised concerns about the
privacy and security of the federal registration database.
Although we know that the database will be searchable
by federal registration number, we do not know yet what
additional information will be publicly available. We expressed
strong concerns with the release of personal data. We will
continue to press the FAA to safeguard the security of
I have talked with many AMA members who do not
have a computer or do not want to use a credit card during
the application process. We discussed the use of a paper
application with the FAA, which is currently only available at
FAA Flight Standards District Offices. AMA is working with
the FAA to make these paper applications easier to obtain.
As for members who are willing to register online, but
cannot or do not want to submit credit card information, the
FAA has agreed to accept gift credit cards such as Visa or
For clubs that own a model aircraft as an organization and
not as an individual, we requested clarification as to how to
register the model. We concluded that those models should be
registered by one of the club’s leaders. To protect that person
who voluntarily places his or her number in or on the club
aircraft, the member should have a written document from the
club indicating he or she should not be held responsible and is
simply providing a registration number on the club’s behalf.
At the end of our meeting with the FAA, we invited its
representatives to join us at a nearby flying site to showcase
firsthand AMA’s safety protocols, demonstrate club
camaraderie and mentoring, and provide the opportunity for
the FAA to speak with AMA members.
I encourage you to stay current on all model aircraft policy
issues by visiting our website and social media channels and
by reading our email updates, because details change and the
situation evolves daily.
Until then, keep flying.
Member of the AMA Government Regulatory Affairs team
Chad Budreau provides answers to your
questions on the Government Relations
section of the AMA website: www.
modelaircraft.org/gov. Visit regularly for
Chad’s government relations blog
contains information about timely topics
and news items. Check out the blog at
This complex issue affects the entire
ADVOCATING ON YOUR BEHALF
11 Model Aviation MARCH 2016 www.ModelAviation.com