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Just In From the FAA

PatR

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FAA Highlights Changes for Recreational Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is implementing changes for recreational drone flyers mandated by Congress in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.


While recreational flyers may continue to fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA, they are now required to obtain prior authorization from the FAA before flying in controlled airspace around airports. Furthermore, they must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions when flying in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.


The new requirement to obtain an airspace authorization prior to flying a drone in controlled airspace replaces the old requirement to notify the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower prior to flying within five miles of an airport.


Until further notice, air traffic control facilities will no longer accept requests to operate recreational drones in controlled airspace on a case-by-case basis. Instead, to enable operations under the congressionally-mandated exception for limited recreational drone operations, the FAA is granting temporary airspace authorizations to fly in certain “fixed sites” in controlled airspace throughout the country. The fixed sites are listed online and will be routinely updated.


The sites are also shown as blue dots on Unmanned Aircraft Systems Facility Maps. The maps depict the maximum altitude above ground level at which a drone may be flown safely for each location in controlled airspace.


In the future, recreational flyers will be able to obtain authorization from the FAA to fly in controlled airspace. The FAA currently has a system called the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which is available to non-recreational pilots who operate under the FAA’s small drone rule (Part 107). The FAA is upgrading LAANC to allow recreational flyers to use the system. For now, however, recreational flyers who want to operate in controlled airspace may only do so at the fixed sites.


Another new provision in the 2018 Act requires recreational flyers to pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. They must maintain proof that they passed, and make it available to the FAA or law enforcement upon request. The FAA is currently developing a training module and test in coordination with the drone community. The test will ensure that recreational flyers have the basic aeronautical knowledge needed to fly safely.


Some requirements have not changed significantly. In addition to being able to fly without FAA authorization below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace, recreational users must still register their drones, fly within visual line-of-sight, avoid other aircraft at all times, and be responsible for complying with all FAA airspace restrictions and prohibitions.


Additionally, recreational flyers can continue to fly without obtaining a remote pilot certificate provided they meet the eight statutory conditions of Section 349 of the Act, which are described in a Federal Register notice.


If recreational flyers do not meet any of the conditions, they could choose to operate under Part 107 with a remote pilot certification. Drone operators who fail to comply with the appropriate operating authority may be subject to FAA enforcement action.


Furthermore, flying a drone carelessly or recklessly may also result in FAA enforcement action.


The FAA will help recreational flyers learn and understand the changes by posting updates and additional guidance, including regulatory changes, on the FAA website.


If you are thinking about buying a drone, the FAA can help you get started with registration and important safety information.
 

Phaedrus

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Posted that in another thread earlier today, but worth having its own thread for sure!!
 

PatR

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The world of RC aero modeling just changed, for the worse, forever.

A special thanks to the multirotor community (with thick sarcasm) for being of such tremendous assistance in making this come to pass.
 
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Phaedrus

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Don’t worry. AMA says everything is going to be alright!!! o_O
 
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DoomMeister

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Read that info this morning Pat. I think it takes bigger pockets like Google and Amazon to influence our legislators and buy out our airspace.

It now ends the topic of flights over 400’ for the hobbyist. For now the only flights inside controlled airspace are at only a very few AMA sites within each state, all uncontrolled is limited to no more than 400’ AGL.

I would love to see a tech class license for those that are not commercial (similar to the tech class for Amateur Radio), but do not want to be bound by the more limited recreational class. I’m not earning money with my drone so I’m not into spending $150 to take a test to prove my knowledge of airspace and airport operations. This could be upgraded at a later date to commercial status and pay the higher fee at that time. This tech class would allow non commercial fliers with proper knowledge to participate in SAR type missions without being of commercial status.
 
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‘‘(6) Means to prevent tampering with or modification of any system, limitation, or other safety mechanism or standard under this section or any other provision of law, including a means to identify any tampering or modification that has been made.


Pages, 113-114
H. R. 302—113 ‘‘§ 44809. Exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft ‘‘(a) INGENERAL.—Except as provided in subsection (e), and notwithstanding chapter 447 of title 49, United States Code, a person may operate a small unmanned aircraft without specific certification or operating authority from the Federal Aviation Administration if the operation adheres to all of the following limitations:
‘‘(1) The aircraft is flown strictly for recreational purposes. ‘‘(2) The aircraft is operated in accordance with or within the programming of a community-based organization’s set of safety guidelines that are developed in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration. ‘‘(3) The aircraft is flown within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft or a visual observer co- located and in direct communication with the operator. ‘‘(4) The aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft. ‘‘(5) In Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, the operator obtains prior authoriza-tion from the Administrator or designee before operating and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions. ‘‘(6) In Class G airspace, the aircraft is flown from the surface to not more than 400 feet above ground level and complies with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions. ‘‘(7) The operator has passed an aeronautical knowledge and safety test described in subsection (g) and maintains proof of test passage to be made available to the Administrator or law enforcement upon request. ‘‘(8) The aircraft is registered and marked in accordance with chapter 441 of this title and proof of registration is made available to the Administrator or a designee of the Adminis-trator or law enforcement upon request.

‘‘(b) OTHEROPERATIONS.—Unmanned aircraft operations that do not conform to the limitations in subsection
(a) must comply with all statutes and regulations generally applicable to unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems. ‘‘(c) OPERATIONS ATFIXEDSITES.—
‘‘(1) OPERATING PROCEDURE REQUIRED.—Persons operating unmanned aircraft under subsection (a) from a fixed site within Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport, or a community-based organization conducting a sanctioned event within such airspace, shall make the location of the fixed site known to the Administrator and shall establish a mutually agreed upon operating procedure with the air traffic control facility. ‘‘(2)
UNMANNED AIRCRAFTWEIGHING MORETHAN 55POUNDS.—A person may operate an unmanned aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds, including the weight of any-thing attached to or carried by the aircraft, under subsection (a) if— ‘‘(A) the unmanned aircraft complies with standards and limitations developed by a community-based organiza-tion and approved by the Administrator; and

H. R. 302—114 ‘‘(B) the aircraft is operated from a fixed site as described in paragraph (1). ‘‘(d) UPDATES.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Administrator, in consultation with government, stakeholders, and community-based organizations, shall initiate a process to periodically update the operational parameters under subsection (a), as appropriate. ‘‘(2) CONSIDERATIONS.—In updating an operational param-eter under paragraph (1), the Administrator shall consider—
‘‘(A) appropriate operational limitations to mitigate risks to aviation safety and national security, including risk to the uninvolved public and critical infrastructure; ‘‘(B) operations outside the membership, guidelines, and programming of a community-based organization; ‘‘(C) physical characteristics, technical standards, and classes of aircraft operating under this section; ‘‘(D) trends in use, enforcement, or incidents involving unmanned aircraft systems; ‘‘(E) ensuring, to the greatest extent practicable, that updates to the operational parameters correspond to, and leverage, advances in technology; and ‘‘(F) equipage requirements that facilitate safe, effi-cient, and secure operations and further integrate all unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system. ‘‘(3) SAVINGS CLAUSE.—Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as expanding the authority of the Administrator to require a person operating an unmanned aircraft under this section to seek permissive authority of the Administrator, beyond that required in subsection (a) of this section, prior to operation in the national airspace system. ‘‘(e) STATUTORYCONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue an enforcement action against a person operating any unmanned aircraft who endangers the safety of the national airspace system. ‘‘(f) EXCEPTIONS.—Nothing in this section prohibits the Administrator from promulgating rules generally applicable to unmanned aircraft, including those unmanned aircraft eligible for the exception set forth in this section, relating to— ‘‘(1) updates to the operational parameters for unmanned aircraft in subsection (a); ‘‘(2) the registration and marking of unmanned aircraft; ‘‘(3) the standards for remotely identifying owners and operators of unmanned aircraft systems and associated unmanned aircraft; and ‘‘(4) other standards consistent with maintaining the safety and security of the national airspace system. ‘‘(g) AERONAUTICALKNOWLEDGE ANDSAFETYTEST.—
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this section, the Administrator, in consultation with manufacturers of unmanned aircraft systems, other industry stakeholders, and community-based organizations, shall develop an aeronautical knowledge and safety test, which can then be administered electronically by the Administrator, a community-based organization, or a person designated by the Administrator.
 

BigAl07

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The world of RC aero modeling just changed, for the worse, forever.

A special thanks to the multirotor community (with thick sarcasm) for being of such tremendous assistance in making this come to pass.

The good news is there is an avenue for "Fixed Sites" to get added to the FAA's list of approved sites in "Controlled Airspace" so it should be a temporary issue (hopefully).

But I FULLY agree with your sentiment.
 

Phaedrus

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Yep. The RC hobby as I have enjoyed it for over 50 years is done. If you only fly small foamie 3S electrics, you'll be fine. Most of the rest of us are screwed, especially if we think the AMA is going to save us.

Oh, and the other little nugget in this? Apparently at the fixed sites FAA feels a 660 foot radius circle is enough!!
 

BigAl07

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Oh, and the other little nugget in this? Apparently at the fixed sites FAA feels a 660 foot radius circle is enough!!
Maybe if you're flying CONTROL-LINE . . . .
 
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Remember doing this?
How about back to the good ol days of U control line airplane. 🤣
Man I was 12 years old????


after a while you feel like this.....🤮
 
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BigAl07

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Remember doing this?
How about back to the good ol days of U control line airplane. 🤣


after a while you feel like this.....🤮
Oh I remember all too well LOL! Started off with those smaller slow ones and moved up to faster ones and then someone talked me into going to a Control Line MEET where they had SPEED machines with the lines anchored in the middle and zooming around.... I just couldn't get my feet to move fast enough LOL
 
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We use to fly side by side with a ribbon paper hanging from the back seeing if we could cut it up.
Many tangled lines, what a mess.
 

BigAl07

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We use to fly side by side with a ribbon paper hanging from the back seeing if we could cut it up.
Many tangled lines, what a mess.

I never did get into tandem flying with CU I can see where that would get in trouble in a hurry LOL.
 

PatR

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I started with control line flying as well, very young using Cox plastic planes with .049 engines that would sometimes start, sometimes not. Tried control line combat later on but later still had a lot more fun with RC combat.

With this change in the law I now have about $50k or so in giant scale RC equipment that is now pretty much worthless except at AMA flying sites. I said it before and I’ll say it now, the AMA’s only concern has been assuring it’s own continuance.
 

Phaedrus

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I am very uncomfortable with the AMA telling us that the FAA is OK with us ignoring them.
 
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PatR

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I’ve passed having any level of comfort with the AMA. They’ve taken the FAA mantra of “Hello, I’m with the FAA and I’m here to help you” to a new level of deceit.
 

Fred Garvin

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I am very uncomfortable with the AMA telling us that the FAA is OK with us ignoring them.
I received an email from the AMA stating:

‘The guidance the FAA issued today is one step in a long process to create and implement the new rules for recreational fliers. It's important to note that at this stage in the process, the guidance does not constitute official rules and it's not legally binding.”

Hmmmm.....just guidelines.....not official rules......not legally binding.

So, we can just ignore it and do as we please?
 

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Phaedrus

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That's the email I based my comments on. AMA says they passed this text by the FAA before sending it too. Makes you wonder why the FAA went to so much trouble to write and publish the documents they did this week only to tell people to ignore them
 
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