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Old Jun 04, 2011, 01:36 PM
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Lakewood, Colorado
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The FAA is legally not allowed to tell us about the upcoming regs (until
the public comment period) which is why they're not here telling us what to do.
As it stands right now amateur (non-commercial, non-licensed) model aviation is covered
by AC91-57 which is not law. It is basically an exemption to all the other
regs which cover commercial/licensed aviation and provides guidance only (ACs are
for informational purposes only).
The strongest language the FAA can use legally is basically that we should
look at AC91-57, which is what they say when asked.
The AMA hasn't ever followed the altitude limit in AC91-57 except if
within 3 miles of an airport, and not always even then.

The new regs will "fix" this confusion, and not in a way that anyone in
the modeling world will like.

ian
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Old Jun 04, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Maybe not legally??? I think it has more to do with moving targets. I was told in 2006 that the "policy clarification" was going to have a remedy within a month. The ideas get run up the old flag pole to see who will sign off of on what. Sometimes folks get a wire brushing and decide just to lay low till retirement.
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Old Jun 04, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Joined Jun 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
The FAA is legally not allowed to tell us about the upcoming regs (until
the public comment period) which is why they're not here telling us what to do.
As it stands right now amateur (non-commercial, non-licensed) model aviation is covered
by AC91-57 which is not law. It is basically an exemption to all the other
regs which cover commercial/licensed aviation and provides guidance only (ACs are
for informational purposes only).
The strongest language the FAA can use legally is basically that we should
look at AC91-57, which is what they say when asked.
The AMA hasn't ever followed the altitude limit in AC91-57 except if
within 3 miles of an airport, and not always even then.

The new regs will "fix" this confusion, and not in a way that anyone in
the modeling world will like.

ian
Ian is exactly right about the process but we need to be ready to act when the NPRM comes out. The discussion that has been going on is appropriate and will be beneficial because it is starting to focus onto issues that people think are important. I posted essentially the following comment in the "FAA vs Model Aviation" thread, but it is directly applicable here:

Good, solid, well thought out and strongly justified comments to specific elements of the NPRM will be what can make a difference. They will need to be worded in the specific language of the regulation because that is what the FAA understands and is used to. There are a number of people on the Zone that have experience here. The RCAPA guys have quite a bit of experience in this area also.

This is exactlly the venue for your input on things that you feel are overly burdensome. If you take a section/paragraph/performance parameter of the NPRM that you feel is inappropriate and offer a specific and justifiable change to make it acceptable, your input will get looked at because the FAA has to address EVERY comment to the NPRM. It needs to be as specific as possible and offer a direct solution to the exact portion of the NPRM being commented on with no generalities. Yes, this will be tedious, but every instance where there is a difference between what is written and what is desired needs to be reviewed and commented on. No blanket comments. The format is called "As-Is" and "To-Be". And if you can get the comment(s) submitted by someone in Congress, then the FAA is "strongly motivated" to address the comment in detail. "Congressionals" are the bane of government organizations. BTDT, did not like dealing with them. See this link: http://www.lawguru.com/legal-questio...nt-767475758/a Note that the attorney is talking about a personal complaint, but the format is the same as what we would use.

We will have to try our best to work within the NPRM comment/reply system, and if that does not work, to raise enough !@#$%^ along with the AMA through the Congress to go outside the NPRM system. Like it or not (and I do, BTW) IMHO the AMA is the only organization that can generate the number of letters needed to influence Congress (and OBTW, has the resources to pay the lawyers needed to do the job). There is a possibility that someone like Horizon Hobby or Hobbico could get their comments addressed by the FAA by way of their Congressional representative as I mentioned above, but I believe the best shot will be by the AMA. As you might expect, the bottom line is mostly driven by money and influence (read that lawyers fees and Congressmen...).

One bit of info. The high power rocketry guys have been down this road before. It cost them a PILE of $$$ for lawyers ($800K, IIRC) and took on the order of 8 years of fighting it to get reasonable legislation acceptable to their community. But they got the job done....
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Old Jun 04, 2011, 02:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrickegan View Post
Maybe not legally??? I think it has more to do with moving targets. I was told in 2006 that the "policy clarification" was going to have a remedy within a month. The ideas get run up the old flag pole to see who will sign off of on what. Sometimes folks get a wire brushing and decide just to lay low till retirement.
Except as I read it, you were looking for clarification on a way to operate commercially
under the hobbyist exemption. I don't think that was ever realistic, and
whoever at the FAA suggested it might be possible either didn't understand
the exemption, or eventually realized they were potentially opening the floodgates
to commercial sUAS operation with effectively no regs, or discovered they were
stepping on the toes of a much larger process already in the works to create
more comprehensive commercial sUAS regs. What happened, does not surprise me.

ian
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Old Jun 04, 2011, 04:08 PM
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No, it was more AOPA saying double standard.
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 02:42 PM
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Joined Mar 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mel Duval
Ian is exactly right about the process but we need to be ready to act when the NPRM comes out. The discussion that has been going on is appropriate and will be beneficial because it is starting to focus onto issues that people think are important. I posted essentially the following comment in the "FAA vs Model Aviation" thread, but it is directly applicable here:

Good, solid, well thought out and strongly justified comments to specific elements of the NPRM will be what can make a difference. They will need to be worded in the specific language of the regulation because that is what the FAA understands and is used to. There are a number of people on the Zone that have experience here. The RCAPA guys have quite a bit of experience in this area also.
I'm a relative newcomer to this thread, but I've been following it for a while and this post really got me thinking. Mel Duval is exactly right. We can complain about this on our own forums all we want and write comments on articles like the Smithsonian's (I myself wrote a rather fiery response Mark Smith's comment there), but that in itself is not going to change anything. If we want to have a chance of influencing this, we are going to have to work within the established process for government agencies' NPRM proceedings. Since at this point it is very clear that the AMA is NOT going to represent the interests of FPV flyers, we are going to have to take action ourselves.

I am a rising third year law student at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, VA, and when the actual NPRM comes out next spring, I will just be finishing up my last year of law school. I am currently doing an internship in Washington DC with a public interest group that often works with the NPRM process (usually with the FCC, not the FAA), so I am gaining some familiarity with how this process works.

I think it would be a great idea if a number of FPV flyers on this forum and others could collaborate on filing a joint comment with the FAA once the NPRM is issued. From what I've seen, it would be difficult to really do this type of filing right if you are not already familiar with legal writing, since these sorts of comments are usually written in legal style similar to briefs before a court.

While I am new to RC flying and haven't actually started FPV yet (though I will in the next few months), I am very good at legal writing, and am an editor on my school's law review. I would be happy to work with anyone who's interested in drafting a comment to the FAA's NPRM, developing the overall flow of our argument and setting it all in proper legal style. Other people could contribute according to their expertise as well, like Daemon with his terrific statistical argument, and others with more technical knowledge and practical experience with FPV. The greater number of people we can get to sign on to our comment, the more impact it can have.

There are two main stages of the NPRM process: the opportunity for initial comments, and then the period for reply comments. It seems at this point, the AMA itself will likely be our greatest opponent, as whatever comment they submit will be likely to play up the supposed dangers of FPV while arguing their incredibly limiting rule framework would keep it in check. Thus after drafting our initial comment, we would probably also need to file a reply comment in response to whatever the AMA says. That way, we can at least let the FAA know the AMA does not speak for all of us, and we might have a chance to correct some of the misconceptions about FPV they will doubtlessly continue to raise.

Let me know if anyone else is interested in doing this, and when the time for comment gets closer we can start to plan what we want to say.

~Patrick McKay
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 03:28 PM
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I'm interested and we can use the RCAPA.
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 03:29 PM
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Bravo Patrick McKay! The key is that it is going to have to be logical and compelling. Your experience with the process will be invaluable there.

FPV'ers, take this man up on his offer! Fast, before he changes his mind.

One comment. I would not automatically assume the AMA is the "enemy". Having seen quite a few of them, hazard analyses by their nature start from a baseline. I would make the rash assumption that the AMA will start their hazard analyses (assuming they are doing one, of course) from the baseline of their operating procedures and show the hazard of operating that way has a minimal risk. The job then of the FPV group as a whole, (if they want to operate with limits which are in "excess" of the AMA limits (range from operator, altitude, VLOS/BLOS, etc.)), is to show the delta risk from the AMA baseline to the desired operating limits is also minimal and to generate operating procedures which minimize any percieved risk for particilar parameters (such as maybe having forward spotters connected by radio for BLOS). And I believe you are exactly right about the comment to the comment. If it can be done such that it dovetails into whatever the AMA is doing, I believe it would be more compelling. If it can't, then it will have to stand on its own merits. Based on having been involved somewhat in the ARC, the main thing to be aware of is that IMHO the full scale organizations (AOPA, APA, PHPA, ATCA, etc.) will drive the risk assessment in favor of the full scale platforms. In the ARC, there was no quantitative effort done, it was strictly emotional and hip shooting from the full scale guys. I have seen signs that there is a quantitative effort going on by somebody (MIT maybe??) for the FAA, but have seen nothing concrete and likely won't unless after it is all said and done a FOIA is submitted to get the analysis.
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 05:38 PM
FPV Desert Beta Test Center
Mesa, Arizona
Joined Nov 2006
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Thanks for the offers to help on this issue guys but first a Reality Check for the amateur crowd!

Lets consider exactly where we are now.
Lets start with what we believe will happen from reviewing everything that has occurred to date.

1) Small unmanned aerial systems will require licensing, certification and permits.
2) Only amateur modeling would be exempt and would be governed by rules agreed upon by AMA and FAA. AMA would be given the task of overseeing the amateur segment.

From everything I have seen the 3 existing small RC aircraft categories would be handled as follows.

1) Amateur models would fall under the sUAS exemption as stated.

2) Autonomous models since they are not allowed under AMA rules would fall under the sUAS regulations.

3) Commercial aircraft the FAA has already decided will not be permitted under amateur modeling so they too would be under the sUAS regulations.

Whatever the NPRM proposes we (amateur modeling) have two possible courses of action in our replies.

1) We could join up with commercial and/or autonomous and push for another separate category somewhere between sUAS and amateur that would provide more freedom for these groups but the chance of FAA starting over with a new category would seem IMO to be a very long shot. If we did this would AMA throw us under the bus by dropping the existing code 550 that allows FPV flight? Maybe if they believe it would threaten their position with FAA.

2) We could stick with AMA but push for more lenient regulations but for that to work AMA would need to support it and I expect they may be more interested in protecting their base than adding any risk to their position at this point. If for example they are given a hard altitude limit of 400ft AGL they are not going to support FPV having a higher limit. That only leaves the buddy box and VLOS issue. Few people want to fly this way but if AMA allows FPV at all there is always the chance of loosening the requirements down the road, which has always been our hope. If we are not a part of AMA it clearly is never going to happen.

So what to do? Obviously we wait to see what the NPRM proposes but we need to clearly think through whatever course we pick to be sure we donít shoot ourselves in the foot.
Maybe we should be working closer with AMA or maybe not! We have a little time to think through the pros and cons. At this point however we have no other partner with more clout.
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Evans View Post
We could stick with AMA but push for more lenient regulations but for that to work AMA would need to support it and I expect they may be more interested in protecting their base than adding any risk to their position at this point.
Given the track record so far I'm sure the issue can be revisited as far as a buddy box goes. It's almost a unspoken rule at this point in time from what I'm gathering..

It's rather interesting I was having a discussion about this topic at the LHS. Then this customer that works for the FAA decided to jump into the conversation. She started quoting SC550 and was saying rules are rules.. Then went on record to say she's never broke a FAA or AMA rule because she could lose her job.. I'm sure she's NEVER punched a thermal glider through 400' (/sarcasm).
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by typicalaimster View Post
Given the track record so far I'm sure the issue can be revisited as far as a buddy box goes. It's almost a unspoken rule at this point in time from what I'm gathering..

It's rather interesting I was having a discussion about this topic at the LHS. Then this customer that works for the FAA decided to jump into the conversation. She started quoting SC550 and was saying rules are rules.. Then went on record to say she's never broke a FAA or AMA rule because she could lose her job.. I'm sure she's NEVER punched a thermal glider through 400' (/sarcasm).
I don't smoke, I don't drink and I don't go out with girls that do!

Ya sure!
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary Evans View Post
I don't smoke, I don't drink and I don't go out with girls that do!

Ya sure!
What was the high school cheer?
We're Norfolk girls, we don't smoke!
We're Norfolk girls, we don't drink!
Norfolk! Norfolk! Norfolk!
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Old Jun 05, 2011, 10:07 PM
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Certain laws or rules (Far's) will adjust to accomodate both public safety and the buisinesses that sell RC products. Being in amateur radio for years I have watched FCC rules lighten to allow more to be involved and purchase gear promoting the hobby. There does need to be some regulation regarding flying over populated areas and near active airports. Flying over dry land and crashing can cause a fire. Being a pilot in the past some good rule of thumbs such as having a fuel reserve when landing, understanding of weather, Pre flight checks, triangulation with wind, should be understood. These FPV planes fly like real planes with limitations. My belief is that there will be some added regulation. However individuals will be held accounted for even if starting a fire with a hot catalytic converter on their parked car over dry grass while flying with goggles.
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Old Jun 06, 2011, 01:40 AM
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Daemon--I can't help but post this about the numbers game and probabilities:

During my third year of college I signed up for a required calculus class. How that was designed in assisting my quest to be a pilot escaped me then and still does. Maybe if I was trying for some PhD engineering degree...

Anyway, one day the professor claimed he could prove how two plus four did not always equal four plus two. He spent the next half-hour on the blackboard with a slide rule (that ought to date me!) proving how that worked. How did he do it? "I'm sorry, Senator, I have no recollection of that." It certainly made sense as he wrote it out so when I returned home that evening I stole six ice cubes out of the freezer and lined them up. Now, no matter the arrangement, I could not make his calculations measure up to what I saw before me. Regardless of how I set up the ice cubes, I still had a total of six. How many different possibilities of grouping would there be? Such as 5+1, 3+3, 1+5 and so on? I continually totaled up six cubes, trying to make practical sense and application until the cubes melted and made a mess on the counter top. Upon returning to his class two days later I asked him how I could demonstrate what he had shown me that day and was lectured strongly on how I was not the one to be questioning his proven mathematical methods. In the day, that was called a 'put-down'. My return of I can see how such calculations could be arranged inadvertantly or otherwise to prove most anything resulted in another stern lecture on my lacking cognitive abilities. While I did succeed in passing the class I had no encouragement from that professor from then on out. Whatever. I will allow what I posted earlier to stand or fall on it's own merits.

Now, I have been called many things on this and other related threads, such as emotional, not having the ability to clearly understand how I feel about this subject, over-reactive, disconnected from reality and whining about how I want what I want with no regard to the feelings or desires of others. I must admit the responses of others occasionally baffle and discourage me, so I will wait on the FAA and their resolution as I have for my entire adult life in this my chosen line of work and if they say it presents another but manageable increase of risk for what I do then so be it. I will not accept that from anyone else, even the AMA, with whom I have been associated since 1964.

At the risk of being reprimanded I'll repeat one more time: I have absolutely no problem at all with FPV remaining within unassisted sight of the one flying it or the spotter watching for other traffic. As the unwilling participant marooned at the wrong end of the NAS stick for this subject I still feel BLOS FPV is needlessly adding preventable risk to me and others who fly full-size. Not to mention who or what BLOS is flown over or through. To me, that is foolish.

For some reason I also feel I should point out I've been flying models since I was 11 and radio control since I was 14, starting out with single-channel rudder-only and escapements. I still fly some free-flight and control line stuff occasionally. I am not some newcomer complaining about what I don't understand from the modeler point-of-view.
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Old Jun 06, 2011, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Balsabird View Post
For some reason I also feel I should point out I've been flying models since I was 11 and radio control since I was 14, starting out with single-channel rudder-only and escapements. I still fly some free-flight and control line stuff occasionally. I am not some newcomer complaining about what I don't understand from the modeler point-of-view.
Maybe you should give FPV piloting a shot.

ian
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