The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) says it is extremely disappointed and troubled by the approach the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is taking in regards to the agency's recently released interpretive rule of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
The rule was established by Congress as part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-95). In an effort to protect the aeromodeling community from overreaching and onerous regulation, Congress established the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which exempts this activity from regulation, provided it is conducted in accordance with and within the safety programming of a community-based organization, such as the AMA.
Bob Brown, president of the AMA, explains, “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 AMA claims 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 comprises retirees over the age of 65. The FAA’s intention to impose a strict regulatory approach to the operation of model aircraft in the hands of youth and elderly members threatens to destroy an activity enjoyed by a vast cross section of society, the AMA says.
“AMA cannot support this rule,” comments Dave Mathewson, the group’s executive director. “It is, at best, ill-conceived and, at worst, intentionally punitive and retaliatory. The Academy strongly requests the FAA reconsider this action. The AMA will pursue all available recourse to dissuade enactment of this rule.”
As a community-based membership association, the Muncie, Ind.-based AMA has managed and overseen the nation’s model aircraft activity for the past 77 years and has grown to over 165,000 members.