Home Law & Policy Law FAA reignites the model aircraft debate – brings in the iPad Clause

FAA reignites the model aircraft debate – brings in the iPad Clause

US: According to the latest notice issued by FAA not only reiterates the FAA’s position that the definition of “model aircraft” requires that the flying be only for recreation, the agency now asserts that the operator must be looking directly at the model in flight, not piloting it with video goggles or other other high-tech vision aids.

By logical extension, that must mean that flying a video-camera-equipped model airplane or ‘copter using, say, an iPad screen or a video monitor of any type makes it no longer fit the FAA’s definition of a model aircraft. Till now FAA has been distinguishing model aircraft from small drones (or small unmanned aerial systems), according to whether they are flown for recreation or for commercial purposes.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in response has issued a statement to the media stating that it is “extremely disappointed and troubled by the approach the FAA has chosen to take in regards to this issue.”

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 - is one of such drones that supports free drone control application for iPad from the App Store in iTunes

AMA President, Bob Brown, said “The FAA interpretive rule effectively negates Congress’ intentions, and is contrary to the law. Section 336(a) of the Public Law states that, ‘the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…’, this interpretive rule specifically addresses model aircraft, effectively establishes rules that model aircraft were not previously subject to and is in direct violation of the congressional mandate in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill.”

The interpretive rule reflects the FAA’s disregard for and its unfamiliarity with the makeup of the modeling community. Nearly 20% of the AMA membership is 19 years old or younger and an even greater percentage is retirees over the age of 65. FAA’s intention to impose a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of our youth and elderly members threatens to destroy a wholesome and enriching activity enjoyed by a vast cross-section of our society.”

Source: AMA and FAA