RCAPA Rebuttal to the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

We at RCAPA have always espoused the notion that the Remote Control hobby was something that was a way of life that many of us had grown up with.  The freedom to associate with, and recreate with whom we chose in a safe and wholesome way.  It is truly sad to see yet another example of the government mistakenly destroying another positive pastime that generations have enjoyed safely.

During the course of the global airspace integration effort, RCAPA has taken every opportunity to remind the FAA of the many unaffiliated Remote Control hobbyist. Those individuals, heretofore, were able to fly safely in the National Airspace System (NAS) utilizing a natural resource that belongs to citizens of this country.  A natural resource that citizens have had reasonable access to for many years.  Over the nine-year timeframe that RCAPA has been in existence, we have asked to see the data that would warrant such heavy-handed regulation.  Up to this point no data, either independently reviewed or otherwise,  has been produced by the FAA.

We have always contended that the realm of Remote Control is beyond the comprehension and expertise of the FAA regulator. The Interpretation of the law we believe serves well to illustrate this truth.  The interpretation contradicts repeated past assurances by FAA representatives that the hobby would be the same. The interpretation in its entirety is troubling; however, the following needs further consideration and rebuttal not by just the hobby community, but family and friends that have shared this wholesome and inclusive hobby.

It appears that the FAA is trying again to punish a community that is educated and operating safely, lumping them in with the uneducated scofflaws operating outside of community practices.

The ban on FPV –

The current standard is to fly with a “buddy box” which has another pilot with his eyes on the model at all times at the controls. Again, here is another example of the FAA not exercising due diligence before acting.

The hard line on the definition of “recreation” –

Any exchange of compensation under the pretense of the hobby is forbidden. The tradition of model shows with prizes, sponsorships or other forms of compensation are, after 70 plus years over.  Again, another ill-conceived blanket decree that will hinder if not destroy national and regional gatherings. The FAA on their webpage encourages flyers to get training, but the new interpretation of the law forbids the trainer from getting paid.  Poor execution from a regulator whose charge should have afforded them the understanding to know better.

Permission to fly within 5 miles of an airport –

This idea was first proposed by Air Traffic Organization (ATO) during the first small unmanned aircraft system agency regulatory committee (sUAS ARC) and was opposed by those considering the RC hobbyist as well as the UAS end-user. What type of permission is needed? Who is it obtained from?  Permission from every charted airport, heliport, seaplane port, balloon and glider port leaves very little room for the estimated 500,000 unaffiliated hobbyists in the U.S. to enjoy their pastime. Why should safe operators be penalized for what is a poor job educating the public, and non hobbyists about existing laws and lack of enforcement?

The notion that the FAA has always regulated everything that flies –

Their own documentation contradicts this notion, and no one can be expected to believe that the burden it places on airport managers and towers will make the NAS a safer place.

Therefore, we encourage you to either use all or part of what is provided to write the FAA and your elected Federal representation asking to suspend the interpretation until such time as data is gathered and time to complete the same due diligence required to make good rules and laws.

RE: Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

[Docket No. FAA-2014-0396]

Dear Representative:

This correspondence is in regards to the Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft made by the FAA. As a member of the Remote Control modeling community and my knowledge of this safe hobby, I must protest the FAA’s uneducated and heavy-handed interpretation of the law put forth by Congress. The community believes that the FAA did not exercise due diligence in gathering the (any) scientific data that would warrant such harsh restrictions on what for the last 70 + years has proven to be a safe past time.

We would appreciate whatever assistance you and your office could provide on this matter. I await your reply.


(Your name)

(Your address and telephone number)