FAA Issues Model Aircraft Rule for Public Comment – A Direct Result of Pirker v. Huerta

Breaking News in the Aero-Modeling World.

FAA's New "Do's and Don'ts" of Model Aircraft - June 23rd, 2014

FAA’s New “Do’s and Don’ts” of Model Aircraft – June 23rd, 2014

As the sUAS rule gets closer and closer to public release, the FAA has reestablished the bar for certain characteristics of model aircraft in preparation. Released June 23, 2014, the FAA issued for immediate release, a change to 14 CFR Part 91 – Specifically regarding the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

As we in the sUAS community recognize, AC 91-57 has often been identified as a special rule for model aircraft – allowing for separate regulation from other Part 91 requirements. Meanwhile, the FAA’s issuance and guidance by Congress in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires that a streamlined approach without special cases be developed to fully integrate the National Air Space.

To accomplish this lofty goal, the FAA seems to be taking measures to bring in line the Special Rule for Model Aircraft and the future sUAS rule being developed in the ASTM F-38 Standards Group in order to better differentiate between “sUAS” and “models.”

In this publication, the FAA has opened the NPRM process to a 30 Day comment period from the public to comment on the following changes:

1)      To clarify that the model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model aircraft and to be exempt from future rule making action

2)      Codifies certain basic criteria that enable model aircraft to fly, but not commercial model aircraft to fly.

  1. 55 lb. limit
  2. Flights within 5 miles of an airport require contacting the airport and its control
  3. Visual Line of Sight must be maintained
  4. No flights for commercial purposes

3)      If a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those safety violations.

Clearly the most significant change in this re-interpretation is getting the least attention. The second component statutorily authorizes the FAA to instill punishment on those flying in ways that endanger the national airspace. This should be seen as a direct reaction to the Pirker Case that I have written about previously. Essentially, the FAA has issued a re-interpretation that satisfies the administrative law judge’s requirement for regulation that has gone through the NPRM process – becoming APA compliant.

This is a huge step forward in granting the FAA the ability to enforce their regulation of model aircraft and those operating in the belief that all internal guidance is voluntary until codified.

For the Primary Document Click HERE!

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