FAA makes clear intent to kill FPV via new press release
This entry is really about FAA's latest new press release but we need to take one
step back to put it in proper context.
FAA re-intereprets Special Rule for Model Aircraft
There has plenty of discussion around the FAA's latest interpretation of the FMRA Section 336
all over the forums. Their interpretation has many negative consequences to the
entire RC community so is worth *everyone* reading and responding to. Many people think
it *only* affects FPV pilots. It does not. It affects anyone who flies RC aircraft within
the 78 square mile area (5 mile radius) surrounding any/all airports. It affects anyone who
gets paid or sponsored to develop/test/review/demo any model aircraft or buys products
from those who may be negatively affected. It may even prevent prizes at contests.
Furthermore the FAA has declared that they can pick and choose any/all full
scale manned aircraft FARs to apply to any/all model aircraft pilots without limit.
For FPV pilots though, it is particularly bad. The FAA has gone out of its way
to re-define the phrase "within the visual line of sight" to mean that the operator
of the aircraft must have eyes on the aircraft at all times. The AMA helped craft
the language of Section 336 and that was *not* their intent (it was meant to convey the
distance and airspace that a person can see, not a specific requirement that the
operator have eyes on the aircraft at all times). The FAA is clearly acting against the intent
of the law, which was specifically crafted to limit the FAA's interference in recreational
model aviation. The FAA leverages this new definition to specifically exclude FPV
piloting from the recreational model aviation exemption because it cannot meet their
narrow re-interpretation. Many people in the RC community have said,
"So what? Just means FPV pilots will be regulated and that's a good thing."
FAA's latest press release
Late yesterday 7/18/2014 the FAA put out a new press release that, combined with
their interpretation above, makes it clear how they want to handle recreational FPV.
They want it GONE!
Press release: http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releas...m?newsId=16674
The EquuSearch lawsuit is an interesting one in its own right as the FAA admitted
in their own motion to dismiss that the notifications they've been sending to
commercial and public sector operators telling them to stop, are not valid or legally binding.
They will have to stop bluffing.
But this new press release is where they make it clear that anything that does not
fall under the model aircraft exemption (which now includes FPV piloting
according to their previous interpretation), must at a minimum meet the following criteria.
"A flight that is not for hobby or recreation requires a certified aircraft, a licensed pilot and operating approval."
They admit they've only ever granted two such approvals for pipline inspection operations in Alaska.
The press release goes on to describe the three paths that current sUAS operators
outside the modelling exemption have to operate legally.
1. Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). The FAA admit they only grants these to government
agencies (occasionally to a university as well) and flights are restricted to specific times
and places. They claim they'll grant COAs for emergency use, but only when manned
aircraft can't fly. Past experience has shown this means when the atmospheric conditions
become totally unflyable for all forms of aircraft, then they'll say the drones can fly.
2. Airworthiness Certification. Meant for aircraft development. Practically speaking, for UAS
it's only granted to government contractors developing military drones to allow them to test
fly their drones in the US.
3. Issuance of Exemptions. The FAA can exempt specific operations from all their
other existing FARs, which is the only true path available, because they do not yet have
any specific FARs that apply to sUAS. The operator has to petition the FAA and prove that
operation is safe, and "in the public interest". They've only granted 2 of these
for pipeline inspection in Alaska.
They finish off the press release by driving the earlier point home again
"Finally, UAS operators must understand that all UAS operations that are not operated as
Model Aircraft under section 336 of the Act are subject to current and future FAA regulation.
At a minimum, any such flights are currently required under the FAA’s regulations to be
operated with a certificated aircraft, with a certificated pilot, and with specific FAA authorization."
Because they specifically exclude FPV piloting from operation "as Model Aircraft under section 336",
and it is virtually impossible for the recreational FPV pilot to meet any of
the three criteria for legal operation, the FAA have effectively created a blanket ban on
all FPV operations.
Of course many will (and do) argue "Ya, but they won't really go after you for flying low and close,
they're only after those who few who go high and far and seem to be flying recklessly
in those viral YouTube videos we've all seen".
While that may be true, from a practical standpoint due to their limited
enforcement ability, it does not make a blanket ban on FPV right or just.
It allows for capricious enforcement both by the FAA, and by local LEOs and other
RC pilots who may drop a dime on an FPV pilot just for spite or to resolve a personal conflict.
If this same type of ban were applied to almost any other activity or technology it would
not stand. Bad/unenforceable laws, and onerous regulations are generally, and should be, ignored.
Tell the FAA what you think. http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketD...=FAA-2014-0396
Do you believe this type of flying should be illegal? The FAA has made it so.
I think I figured it out...The FAA wants all of the air space below 500' so they can can allow the government to fly their stuff without any model aircraft of any kind in the way. We as hobbyist are in the way. If you look at the track record the government has crashed far more drones than the civilian side, I believe there is more to the story than meets the eye. They don't want to mess with the full scale stuff so the decide to shut down this wonderful hobby. Sad America has come to that. They look at us as and our hobby like we are trash in the sky and the want to clean it up, that way they can have it all, and won't have as many crashes.
Seriously, great video and great flying!
Good luck with your point of view. I hope that "things" work out however, FPV flying and other long range remote piloting options have introduced "situations" that were not thought about or worried about in regards to "line of sight r/c piloting" or as people like me used to think about it, just plain old r/c plane flying!
To paraphrase Lincoln, you can make all of the people happy some of the time, some of the people happy all of the time but you cannot make all of the people happy all of the time. The is no perfect solution to the problem (or perceived problem). Proof for above statement, two words, Drunk Driving. DD is not legal, not beneficial and yet it happens. In many cases, people do what they want without considering the ramifications. People with long range FPV capabilities can do things that are dangerous to others while with plain old r/c piloting it is a bit harder to be dangerous to others when it comes to getting in the way of general aviation and/or flying around buildings and the general public (check the bad press of recent times).
There is a lot of positive about FPV unfortunately it has also come with a lot of negative. The fact that you can operate FPV without causing a problem is not the issue. The fact that others are operating FPV (and perhaps even plain old r/c) and ARE causing problems IS the issue. I have no answer. Perhaps law enforcement can help as in, get caught flying where you should not be and go to jail however, those sort of rules are already in the books regarding drunk driving and we yet still suffer from the aftermath of drunk driving. By the way if you want to discount drunk driving as operating under the influence (i.e. not normal behavior), how about texting while driving? Texting while driving has hurt and killed thousands of people. New technologies tend to be double edged swords, as they can cut both ways. Society has always had issues with new technology and FPV is just another example of this.
I really wish I had a good answer. Most of "us" like and try to do the right thing however, there have always been and will always be people that think and do the opposite. To quote a popular comedian , "Ya can't fix stupid!" It is unfortunate that "stupid" can mess it up for the rest of us!
Fpv itself is not akin to drunk driving. Make and enforce any specific safety laws you want, on a case by case basis but don't punish everyone on perceived threat alone. Besides, history has proven time and time again that prohibition simply does not work, and it usually makes the situation worse.
United States, FL, Jacksonville
Joined Jul 2013
I was thinking that the FAA or LEO's would have to catch you in the act of flying FPV. Otherwise how would they know the video taken and posted on line was obtained by flying FPV. Now that I have seen your video it has become clear to me. Since there is no way someone flying LOS would be able to avoid the obstacles like you did here then it would have to have been shot flying FPV. Hmmm, if you were able to avoid crashing into things flying FPV that would not be possible flying LOS then how could FPV be considered unsafe?
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