Model Aircraft Group Condemns FAA Reauthorization Bill

Academy of Model Aeronautics feels rules are too restrictive.

model airplanes
Language in the FAA Reauthorization Act 2018 could increase restrictions on model aircraft.Wikimedia Commons/Andy F

The Academy of Model Aeronautics is rallying its members to lobby congressional representatives to vote against the latest iteration of FAA reauthorization, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill includes modifications to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336, modifications the AMA claims will put burdensome restrictions on the use of model aircraft.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 restricts model aircraft operations to 400 feet AGL. This limit “kills many of our operations that have been safely conducted for decades,” said AMA’s interim executive director, Chad Budreau, in a video on the AMA website. AMA claims this limit will inhibit AMA competitions and make it more difficult to use model aviation in STEM education programs.

Flights within Class B, C, D and E airspace would require authorization from the FAA or a designee, likely LAANC. Flights above 400 feet would be available if approved by air traffic control. The rules within Section 336 apply to aircraft weighing 55 pounds or less. Heavier UAS would be restricted to fixed flying sites.

AMA’s president, Rich Hanson, sent letters to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate recommending a risk-based approach when it comes to regulating recreational UAS rather than set limits, such as the 400-foot restriction.

The house has already approved its version of the FAA reauthorization. The senate is voting on its version on Wednesday in hopes to reach a final bill by the end-of-the-month deadline.