Time for Action: Ask Your Representatives to Vote No on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018!

Over the weekend, congress released a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (available here). According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), this bill is the result of closed-door negotiations between leadership of the House and Senate and includes significant modifications to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336. While some of the changes are positive, and include provisions that AMA has championed, overall the bill is problematic. On the whole, it will put even more restrictions on our community in the coming months and years, and the language specifically repeals the previous Section 336 and replaces it with new language.

As written, this puts the entire model aircraft community under the full authority of the FAA, which gives the agency the right to impose additional regulations on model aircraft. Most problematic is the inclusion of language that specifically imposes a 400 foot altitude limit on model aircraft, even when operating under the programming of a Community Based Organization (CBO). Also, there is additional language for the certification of unmanned aircraft systems and no explicit exemption for model aircraft designed to be used for recreational purposes. Although the FAA may enact exemptions for development and sale of various levels of model aircraft, there is no language included in the bill to protect US businesses from burdensome and unnecessarily complex requirements which would devastate the US based model aircraft and drone industry even for the simplest model aircraft.

We feel that without these protections, the bill as it stands does not live up to the intent of the bills passed by the House and Senate. The bill should be sent back to committee for proper reconciliation. Below you will find two letters. The first is the framework for what we believe would be a good message for you to send to your own representatives. You can use this link created by the AMA to contact your representatives, but we recommend that you revise the text that is auto-filled with your own version of the text we have listed below.  Customized and personal letter will have far greater impact than everyone sending the exact same language. There also are options for you to call you representatives, and we recommend you do so. The second is a letter from Tim Stanfield, President of Ready Made RC, LLC, which was sent to Ohio Congressional and Senate representatives. 

If you are a member of the press and would like to discuss this issue with someone here at Ready Made RC, LLC, you can contact us at press@readymaderc.com, or leave a message by phone at 740-936-4500 extension 6.

Recommended Language for Your Representatives (USE THIS LINK):

Subject: It is Urgent You Vote "NO" on FAA Reauthorization

I am a model aviation hobbyist, and I am deeply concerned about the impact the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 would have on my community. Given the unnecessary modifications and repeal of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336, I strongly urge you to vote “no” on the FAA bill.

The current language in this bill puts unnecessary and burdensome restrictions in place that will curtail – or even cancel – long-standing model aviation competitions and events which support local charities and non-profits. Beyond harming charities, the bill may stifle the benefits of model aviation to STEM education and manned aviation. The current bill also leaves open the possibility of unnecessary restrictions on US companies regarding the manufacture and sale of model aircraft, which could put these companies at a severe disadvantage to companies operating outside of the US but still selling to US citizens. The language leaves open the possibility that even small toy models could have requirements for certification and onerous applicable regulations.

Model aviation hobbyists have been flying safely in the skies since before the FAA was even created. Model aviation enthusiasts are not the risk, it is those bad players that will not adhere to any of the proposed rules that are the biggest risk to national security and safety. This bill will deal a devastating blow to our hobby and the many local communities, charities and educational programs we support, as well as many businesses. On behalf of hobbyists like me across the country, I urge you to vote “no” on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 in its current state.

In summary, the largest risks to the model aircraft community and industry are:

-Section 345: The possibility of the requirement of certification and significant rules which would be nearly impossible to implement on model aircraft, without any protection in advance for companies developing or selling model aircraft for recreational use from unachievable technical and bureaucratic standards.

-Section 349: The language does not explicitly extend the exceptions for recreational aircraft operations to those aircraft being developed specifically for recreational use. This type of language has previously been included, and should be included in the bill to prevent the FAA from overstepping its bounds and adding unnecessary regulation to US companies specializing in amateur hobby equipment.

-Also, section 349(a)(6) creates a hard altitude limit of 400 feet in Class G airspace, even though model aircraft have been operated safely for years within the rules of the existing community based organizations which allowed for operations over 400 feet within certain pre-defined locations and conditions. This hard limit should be removed and be included as part of the negotiated rules agreed to by the community based organizations.

-Section 349 (a)(8) also includes language that could later be interpreted to force model aircraft to have the same registration and marking requirements of full sized aircraft

Please send this back to committee so that the original intent of the House and Senate versions of this bill are properly reconciled and the rights of hobbyists, along with companies supporting education and hobbyists, are protected. The future of aeronautical STEM curriculum and the growth of the aviation industry is put at risk by the restrictions put on the youth, educators, and hobbyists based on the current language of the Act.

Tim’s email to representatives:

Subject: It is Urgent You Vote "NO" on FAA Reauthorization

I am a model aviation hobbyist and a business owner in the model aircraft and drone industry. I reside in the 12th Congressional district, and have multiple employees in other congressional districts in Ohio as well. I am deeply concerned about the impact the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 would have on my community and business. Given the unnecessary modifications and repeal of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, also known as Section 336, I strongly urge you to vote “no” on the FAA bill.

The current language in this bill puts unnecessary and burdensome restrictions in place that will curtail – or even cancel – long-standing model aviation competitions and events which support local charities and non-profits. Beyond harming charities, the bill may stifle the benefits of model aviation to STEM education and manned aviation. The current bill also leaves open the possibility of unnecessary restrictions on US companies regarding the manufacture and sale of model aircraft, which could put these companies at a severe disadvantage to companies operating outside of the US but still selling to US citizens. The language leaves open the possibility that even small toy models could have requirements for certification and onerous applicable regulations.

Model aviation hobbyists have been flying safely in the skies since before the FAA was even created. Model aviation enthusiasts are not the risk, it is those bad players that will not adhere to any of the proposed rules that are the biggest risk to national security and safety. This bill will deal a devastating blow to our hobby and the many local communities, charities and educational programs we support, and businesses. On behalf of hobbyists and business owners like me across the country, I urge you to vote “no” on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 in its current state.

In summary, the largest risks to the model aircraft community and industry are:

-Section 345: The possibility of the requirement of certification and significant rules which would be nearly impossible to implement on model aircraft, without any protection in advance for companies developing or selling model aircraft for recreational use from unachievable technical and bureaucratic standards.

-Section 349: The language does not explicitly extend the exceptions for recreational aircraft operations to those aircraft being developed specifically for recreational use. This type of language has previously been included, and should be included in the bill to prevent the FAA from overstepping its bounds and adding unnecessary regulation to US companies specializing in amateur hobby equipment.

-Also, section 349(a)(6) creates a hard altitude limit of 400 feet in Class G airspace, even though model aircraft have been operated safely for years within the rules of the existing community based organizations which allowed for operations over 400 feet within certain pre-defined locations and conditions. This hard limit should be removed and be included as part of the negotiated rules agreed to by the community based organizations.

-Section 349 (a)(8) also includes language that could later be interpreted to force model aircraft to have the same registration and marking requirements of full sized aircraft

Please send this back to committee so that the original intent of the House and Senate versions of this bill are properly reconciled and the rights of hobbyists, along with companies supporting education and hobbyists, are protected. The future of aeronautical STEM curriculum and the growth of the aviation industry is put at risk by the restrictions put on the youth, educators, and hobbyists based on the current language of the Act.

Tim Stanfield

President, Ready Made RC, LLC

 

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