Following the release of the recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) drone registration initiative, the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) says it is holding strong to its opinion that the suggestions, as written, would make registration an unnecessary and unjustified burden to its 185,000 members.
AMA notes that its members have operated harmoniously within the aviation community since 1936. Current AMA guidelines already instruct members to label their aircraft with identifying information before they fly. AMA membership also includes additional protections such as liability insurance and advocacy on certain issues. In addition, says AMA, its more than 2,400 flying clubs and 3,000 flying fields throughout the U.S. help facilitate safe operations.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, AMA maintains its stance that the registration of some unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that meet an appropriate threshold of weight, capability and other safety-related characteristics makes sense. However, AMA stresses that regulation should not become a burden for recreational users who safely and responsibly fly for fun and for educational purposes.
“AMA has always regarded safe and responsible flying as its top priority,” comments Rich Hanson, director of government and regulatory affairs for AMA, who also represented the group on the FAA’s registration task force, which came up with the recommendations collectively. “While we understand the desire for some level of regulation to prevent irresponsible flying practices, we are passionate about protecting our hobby and the unhindered ability of our members to fly recreationally.”
Dave Mathewson, executive director of AMA, says, “Adding an additional requirement for AMA members to register at the federal level is contrary to the intent of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public law clearly states that the FAA is prohibited from promulgating any new rules for recreational users operating within the safety guidelines of a community-based organization.
“Congress, by no means, intended to grant a free pass to individuals who operate model aircraft. Instead, it clearly intended to leave risk mitigation and the development of appropriate safety guidelines for the operation of these devices by the members of the AMA to the nationwide, community-based organization,” he says.
“More important, there is no finding or indication that any AMA member was involved in the incidents and sightings that led to the decision to require UAS registration,” Mathewson adds.
As federal UAS regulations await, AMA says it is committed to continuing to fight for and uphold the tradition of model aviation for future generations.
More on the recommendations for UAS registration can be found here.