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Written by Tyler Dobbs
AMA In Action Advocating for Members
As seen in the October 2020 issue of Model Aviation.

 

IN RECENT YEARS, the AMA Government Affairs team has worked diligently with Congress and the FAA to advocate for our hobby in the face of new federal regulations and continuing threats at the state level. We have pushed back against overly burdensome proposals while working cooperatively with policymakers to protect the ability of our members to continue operating safely and responsibly.

To demonstrate the importance of recent years and to better illustrate the Government Affairs team’s advocacy on your behalf, we have put together a timeline of notable events beginning in the fall of 2018, with the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, through the present. During this time, AMA worked with Air Traffic Control (ATC) to secure altitudes above 400 feet for flying sites in controlled airspace, to reduce the safety and knowledge test from a 4-hour test to a 10-minute learning experience and, thanks to your support, championed more than 50,000 comments during the proposed Remote ID rule’s comment period.

The timeline includes a broad overview of some of the highlights of the past couple of years to show how far we have come, and the developments we are preparing for in the future.

Fall 2018

Congress passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, also known as Public Law 115-254. This legislation included new requirements for all UAS operators, including AMA members, some of which AMA championed.

For example, this bill removed the 5-mile airport notification ring, which was a taxing and often misinterpreted mandate. Additionally, it more clearly defined community-based organizations (CBOs) and tasked the FAA with formally recognizing CBOs to give organizations such as AMA a more prominent role in shaping future regulation. Furthermore, Congress allocated up to $1 million to help support educational campaigns such as Know Before You Fly, which AMA cofounded.

Spring 2019

AMA led the first stakeholder meeting with the FAA, in conjunction with the Consumer Technology Association, to advise the FAA on the best approach to move forward with future recreational UAS regulations as directed by Congress. This meeting was a critical step to advocate for our community and protect against unnecessary and burdensome regulations.

We discussed safety and knowledge tests for recreational model aircraft and drone operators, the process for recognizing CBOs, and the importance of striking an appropriate balance between innovation and safety. We also began securing Letters of Agreement (LOAs) for AMA clubs and airports to continue operations in controlled airspace.

Summer 2019

Although summer is typically a slower time in Washington, D.C., in summer 2019, the AMA Government Affairs team and Executive Council continued their hard work behind the scenes, attending meetings with legislators on Capitol Hill and policymakers at the FAA to discuss ongoing regulatory efforts.

Fall 2019

AMA cochaired an FAA testing panel on the safety and knowledge test for recreational operators. As a result of AMA’s advocacy efforts, the safety and knowledge test was reduced from a 4-hour test to a 10-minute learning experience. During this time, AMA began working with ATC to secure LOAs and ensure operations over 400 feet for clubs with flying sites in controlled airspace.

AMA continues to work with the FAA in this process and advocate for our clubs and members.

Winter 2019

AMA tracked and monitored 362 proposed state bills that sought to restrict model aircraft and drone operations. By actively engaging state legislators, we were able to stop inconvenient legislation from gaining traction and reshape proposals to be more favorable to our hobby. Additionally, AMA met with FAA Administrator Dan Elwell to discuss new threats to our hobby, including the FAA’s policy to limit modelers to an arbitrary 400-foot altitude limit in controlled airspace. This meeting was an important milestone in our work to protect AMA members and model aviation as the agency implements Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

AMA formed the AMA Government Advocacy Coalition, an alliance that includes aviation associations, hobby shops, and manufacturers, to protect the model aviation hobby industry from overly burdensome regulations, starting with the fight for a better rule on UAS Remote ID. The coalition provides strength in numbers and shows that AMA is not a lone in its concerns with Remote ID and other potentially oppressive regulations.

Spring 2020

The focus of this past spring was primarily the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID, released by the FAA in late December 2019. The 60-day comment period began on January 2 and ended March 2, 2020. The comment period was critical for AMA to advocate heavily for important changes to the proposed rule to protect our hobby for generations to come.

As a part of this effort, AMA championed thousands of comments regarding the Remote ID NPRM. The FAA received more than 50,000 comments, many of which were from AMA members and AMA allies. Currently, the FAA is in the process of reviewing those comments. We are told that the recreational community had a large impact and identified issues with the rule that will need better solutions.

Summer 2020

Although some efforts have been altered, given the pandemic and its impact on advocacy, AMA continues to secure higher altitudes for clubs and flying fields in controlled airspace up to 2,000 feet above ground level.

We continue to work closely with ATC and the FAA to ensure that our members in controlled airspace can fly safely and responsibly as they have done for many years. AMA is also continuing its work with UAS industry stakeholders, the FAA, and Congress, toward a more sensible Remote ID solution.

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