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Old Dec 11, 2003, 02:11 AM
Feeling FrSky
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AMA Rules vs. AMA Practice: Do as we say, not as we do

So I got the January issue of Model Aviation the other day, the one with the cover blurb "TAM Conquers the Atlantic" and a photo of the autonomous plane that flew across the North Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland. I read the nice long story about the accomplishment which I was quite impressed with--a good read and inspiring tale.

So then I was browsing through the issue and came across the RC Scale Aerobatics column beginning on page 108. Author Mike Hurley was featuring an interview with Mike McConville of Hangar 9/Horizon Hobbies, the designer responsible for the creation of a number of very nice IMAC scale aerobatics planes available from Hanger 9. An eyecatching photo featured one of their planes, the Sukhoi, hovering on its prop with its rudder partially submerged in a lake. "Cool!" I though--pretty darn impressive flying with a big and expensive airplane!!

So, then, since I like to read my issues cover-to-cover, I got towards the back and came across the newly revised "Official AMA National Model Aircraft Safety Code" for 2004 on page 153. And I'll be darned, would you believe what I found??

Rule #7 - General:
"..The operators of radio control model aircraft shall control the aircraft from the ground and maintain unenhanced visual contact with the aircraft throughout the entire flight operation. No aircraft shall be equipped with devices that would allow autonomous flight." (original emphasis)

Rule #9 - Radio Control
"Under no circumstances may a pilot or other person touch a powered model in flight, nor should any part of the model other than the landing gear, intentionally touch the ground, except while landing."

Well now I'll be darned! A bit hypocritical for them to be promoting rules forbidding the very acts they're so prominently featuring in their magazines--on the cover, no less! If this is not an example of the definitive "do as we say, not as we do," I don't know what is!!!

I have to give credit where credit is due--running both the new 2004 Safety Code and those two articles in the same issue took some guts. Or incompetence--I'll leave that for others to determine.

Steve Lange
AMA #777521
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 06:14 AM
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Aberdeen, WA
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AMA

What you need to do is read the whole
magazine. I think it was in Dave Browns
column that it was stated that the transatlantic flight took place before the sight
regulation was put into the safety rules.


Thanks, ben
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 07:01 AM
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I wonder what "UNENHANCED visual contact" means ? If they mean I must take my glasses off to fly I'd call that a seriously "unsafety" rule. I'm as blind as a bat without me specs .

BTW I wonder if they'll get round to banning free flight models. They're all equipped for autonomous flight.

As for the other one, I guess someone has noticed that lakes are made of water not of ground .

Basically it just proves how hard it is to write concise accurate and totally unambiguous rules .

Steve
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 08:08 AM
aka: A.Roger Wilfong
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What you also need to read is Dave Brown's "anti-terrorism" column from an issue in the summer of 2002 (IIRC it was July). He is quite emphatic in that column that we should not be developing autonomous control systems because they could potentially be used by terrorists.

And who was it that took over control in Ireland to land the plane?

- Roger (AMA 46848)
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 08:29 AM
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Autonomous flight

Although I agree that it's a bit hypocritical on DB's part, the AMA rules apply to the continential United States whereas the Tam took off from Newfoundland and landed in Ireland so is not subject to AMA rules, but FAI rules.
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 08:39 AM
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You can break ama rules all you want, just don't expect any insurance coverage if you do.
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 11:31 AM
It wasn't me...
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Quote:
Originally posted by steve lewin
I wonder what "UNENHANCED visual contact" means ? If they mean I must take my glasses off to fly I'd call that a seriously "unsafety" rule. I'm as blind as a bat without me specs .

BTW I wonder if they'll get round to banning free flight models. They're all equipped for autonomous flight.
Do your eyeglasses enhance your vision or correct a defect in it?

Re-read rule #7 "The operators of radio control model aircraft..."
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 12:04 PM
Feeling FrSky
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Thanks all for the thoughtful responses! I did not intend to start a flame war and happily this has not become one yet Honest discussion of these issues is reasonable, I think, so I appreciate the direction this is going.

OK, so I understand that the TAM flight obviously took place before the 2004 safety rules took effect--for that matter, they've still not taken effect, as it's December 11 as I type this. Nevertheless, I'm going to stick with three points on this subject:

1) It is the January 2004 issue of MA. Granted, we all know it was probably put together in June 2003 if not earlier, but the fact remains that the issue date corresponds with the effective date of the new 2004 Safety Code. Having an autonomous aircraft on the cover of the issue heralding, by its issue date, the arrival of the anti-autonomous 2004 Safety Code is still very problematic as I see it.

2) More importantly, if AMA has determined that autonomous model aircraft are unsafe--as indicated by their prohibition in the 2004 Safety Code--then are they not being completely irresponsible and unsafe by trumpeting an autonomous model aircraft on the cover of the January 2004 issue? Regardless of when their rules take effect, if autonomous model aircraft are unsafe, they should not endorse their use--ever! Safety means following safe practices regardless of whether an adequate rule exists to describe the practice. If the danger of autonomous models is so great that they must be prohibited by the 2004 Safety Code then AMA is being highly disingenuous by trying to elade the issue through indicating the flight took place before the effective date of the new rules. That kind of weaseling may fulfill the letter of the rule, but certainly fails to fulfill the spirit of the rule: safety. This holds for the USA vs. Newfoundland characterization as well--if it's unsafe here, it's unsafe elsewhere as I see it.

3) As for the terrorism issue--well, clearly, all sorts of things can be used for terrorist acts. Considering the use of piloted commercial airliners on 9/11, I think autonomous model aircraft are far less of a concern than any number of the far larger and far more potentially deadly vehicles that terrorists have at their disposal. And I strongly suspect that terrorists will not follow the AMA Safety Code no matter what is in it! By that sort of reasoning all model aviation of any sort ought to be outlawed--a simple utilitarian argument of greatest good for the nation will easily suffice. As Jefferson Franklin said (roughly), "Those who would trade liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security."

OK, so I want to reiterate that I appreciate this discussion and would like to keep it clean. I look forward to your responses!

Steve
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 01:03 PM
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Do your eyeglasses enhance your vision or correct a defect in it?
Merriam Webster "Enhance - to increase or improve...in quality". My vision is much improved with my glasses on.

Re-read rule #7 "The operators of radio control model aircraft..." [/QUOTE]
Re-read the message you quoted. "I wonder if they WILL GET ROUND TO" i.e. in the future.

OTOH you can continue taking every statement as deadly serious if you like .

Steve
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 01:14 PM
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First off, AMA rules only cover AMA members performing activities with the expectation of AMA insurance coverage. The TAM flight was a PRIVATE venture, privately insured, completely separate from the AMA.

The AMA is NOT a governing body. They have no say over what you can or can't do, just over what you can or can't do while still being covered by AMA insurance.

Contrary to popular belief, the AUTONOMOUS rule is not terrorism-induced, just a victim of bad timing. Commercial UAVs flying in civiliian airspace are getting closer and closer to becoming a reality. The FAA is going to regulate these UAVs, period, end of story. In order to keep our hobby from being regulated to death by the FAA, WE have to draw a DISTINCT LINE between model aircraft and UAVs. The two most obvious features of a UAV are autonomous flight, and beyond-visual-range operations. We don't need either of those to enjoy our hobby. In fact, nearly all of us enjoy being able to see our models, and control them ourselves.

The autonomous rule does not preclude flight aids like copilots or gyros. They do not make the plane autonomous; you still have to guide the plane by remote control. Free flight is NOT autonomous flight either; an autonomous plane flies a predetermined path. A free flight plane can only be trimmed to behave in a certain way, it can't be set up to reliably follow a predetermined path. Environmental anomalies will alter a free flight plane's course. An autonomous plane will take corrective action to ensure it follows that predetermined path.
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 01:39 PM
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The same issue has a reveiw of a Hangar 9 3D plane, with the rudder IN the water!
For shame!
.
"unenhanced vision"...
That's Maynard at the eyepiece of the long tracker... John Worth was at the wide-field binocular on the other side for this series of RAI record trials, conducted in the sovereign state of Virginia.
I guess this rule means no altitude flights BVR anymore.
jmh will be upset!
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 05:56 PM
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by surfimp
2) More importantly, if AMA has determined that autonomous model aircraft are unsafe--as indicated by their prohibition in the 2004 Safety Code--then are they not being completely irresponsible and unsafe by trumpeting an autonomous model aircraft on the cover of the January 2004 issue? Regardless of when their rules take effect, if autonomous model aircraft are unsafe, they should not endorse their use--ever! Safety means following safe practices regardless of whether an adequate rule exists to describe the practice. If the danger of autonomous models is so great that they must be prohibited by the 2004 Safety Code then AMA is being highly disingenuous by trying to elade the issue through indicating the flight took place before the effective date of the new rules. That kind of weaseling may fulfill the letter of the rule, but certainly fails to fulfill the spirit of the rule: safety. This holds for the USA vs. Newfoundland characterization as well--if it's unsafe here, it's unsafe elsewhere as I see it.

Uhhhhh....as the name suggests, the purpose of the AMA Safety Code is to promote - all together now - SAFETY. There's not a much for the plane to hit in the north Atlantic.

More to the point, as others have pointed out, the flight was conducted outside the US - in fact outside any land mass - under FAI rules. If you want to see it as disingenuous for AMA to report the feat, that's your right. But it would be hard to imagine any aeromodeling magazine not reporting an achievement of this magnitude.

Jim
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 06:47 PM
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From Dave Brown today..
"Generally, correct. but note.....the picture of the telescope is from the early 60's, when "anything goes" was the attitude of the public and the population of lawyers was considerably less than it is now.

The rule 'equipped for autonomous flight', is there, primarily to provide a way to exclude out R/C models from regulations intended for UAV's, which the FAA is working on. If we do not provide a rule to point to to make that distinction, we will be in trouble with some interpretations of rules not intended for us.

Also, the "hovering" model isn't hitting the rudder on the ground, so it wouldn't, technically, be against the rules (it's over water). Ironically, doing this over water doesn't create the danger of breaking the rudder, ot it's cables, so there isn't a real safety concern, in this instance.

Dave Brown"
.
Note a couple points.. lawyers WILL take advantage of any situation connected to a problem with an r/c model.
And the "head's up" on FAA control of UAVs..
And the rationalizing of where the tail touch occurs..
Ain't politics wonderful?
Better him than me in that postion!
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 07:34 PM
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Perhaps one could even argue that several ounces of water ballast in the rudder structure adds a stabilizing weight that further assists hovering...

I imagine that "unenhanced visual contact" would rule out the use of binoculars. Any thermal glider model pilots use binocs or spotting scopes?

Karl
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Old Dec 11, 2003, 08:11 PM
Ascended Master
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In essence, radio control altitude records can't be done any more.
What there is is all there will be.
Aerial photography with optical aid can't be done with AMA coverage in effect.
The UAV field of interest will get very complicated, with the Feds stepping in.
The concern about damage to the rudder... is there a similar concern with damage to the entire plane in r/c combat?
That concerns me more than tail touching.m Planes are going faster and higher..Lots more potential for going over there and smiting someone...
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