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AMA Works to Include Aeromodeling Exemption in Final FAA Bill

February 24, 2011 — The FAA is currently developing new regulations aimed at enabling small unmanned aerial vehicles (sUAV) to operate in the National Airspace System (NAS). By all indications the NPRM, due out later this summer, will include model aircraft, potentially creating significant and unnecessary regulations that would have a detrimental impact to this important form of aviation.

The FAA reauthorization bill approved by the U.S. Senate, S. 223, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act, includes an amendment, “Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” which exempts model aircraft from the proposed legislation.

The bill was sponsored by Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) with additional help in shepherding the bill from Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas). Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) was instrumental in including the amendment to the bill that provides the exemption, which allows for aeromodeling activity “conducted in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization.”

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is now urging its members to help make sure that the House version also includes similar language and the final bill maintains the exemption before being signed into law by the president.

The amendment allows model aircraft operating within the following parameters:

  • Flown specifically for recreational, sport, competition, or academic purposes;
  • Operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
  • Limited to 55 pounds or less unless certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program currently administered by a community-based organization.

A significant number of EAA members are also modeling enthusiasts, many belonging to the AMA. Our two kindred organizations entered into a memorandum of understanding last year to cooperate on several wide-ranging issues, including youth engagement and encouraging local chapters to work together to promote participation in aviation.

Just since the campaign launch on Wednesday, February 23, nearly 30,000 letters have been sent to Congress through the AMA website.
Modeling is an important entry point for all of aviation, and any regulation severely curtailing the activity would also negatively impact GA’s attempts to grow the pilot population. EAA members are urged to support AMA’s Congressional Awareness Campaign, which aims to educate Congress on the many attributes of model aviation.

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