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Written by Tyler Dobbs
AMA comments on the ruling
AMA In Action Advocating For Members
As seen in the May 2019 issue of
Model Aviation.

external marking requirement

external marking requirement


See how to mark your aircraft by visiting

ON FEBRUARY 15, 2019, the FAA posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring all unmanned aircraft owners to display their FAA registration number on the outside of an aircraft. UAS operators may no longer place registration numbers in an interior compartment of the aircraft. The rule went into effect on February 25, 2019. In response to this Interim Final Rule, AMA submitted the following public comment:

"The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) represents nearly 200,000 model aircraft hobbyists across the country. Founded in 1936, we are the nation’s largest organization representing those who fly model aircraft for recreational and educational purposes. For years, our National Model Aircraft Safety Code has been recognized by Congress, as well as state legislatures, as a safe and effective means of managing model aircraft hobbyists. Our members know where, when, and how to fly safely and they do not pose any new risk to the airspace.

"Since 2015, we have participated in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to establish a registration rule for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). We have long held that federal registration of UAS makes sense at an appropriate threshold of weight, capability, and other safety-related characteristics. However, we continue to believe that federal registration should not apply at such a low threshold that it includes toys. Most importantly, it should not burden model aircraft hobbyists who have operated safely and harmoniously in our nation’s skies for decades.

"AMA members already comply with AMA’s own registration system. When joining AMA, members provide personal identification and contact information, and affirm that they will abide by AMA’s safety guidelines. Members are instructed to place their membership number or their name and address on or within their aircraft. Over the years, this has proven to be an effective means of linking and identifying the owner-operator of a model aircraft to his or her platform.

"Our members know where, when, and how to fly safely and they do not pose any new risk to the airspace."

faa to consider a waiver process

"Although the interim final registration rule is duplicative for AMA members, we have complied. Most AMA members already have their FAA registration number posted on the outside of their aircraft. Unfortunately, for some of our members, including the small percentage of AMA members who fly scale replica model aircraft, the interim final registration rule creates a significant burden. For these AMA members, affixing an FAA registration number on the external surface of the aircraft diminishes the accuracy of the scale replica model. The accuracy of the model is critical because it is the primary factor by which these models are judged in competitions nationally and globally.

"AMA understands and appreciates the intent behind the interim registration rule’s requirement to affix the FAA number on the outside of the aircraft. In no way do we want to create safety risks for law enforcement officials or first responders who might be tasked with opening a compartment on a model aircraft to find a registration number. However, we do not believe that model aircraft create any new risk.

"… we urge the FAA to consider a waiver process for our niche community of responsible hobbyists who have been flying safely for years."

"Given the relatively small number of scale replica in the airspace today, we urge the FAA to consider a waiver process for our niche community of responsible hobbyists who have been flying safely for years. Just as in the full-scale aviation community, there are exceptions to exterior aircraft marking. A waiver process will ensure that passionate and law-abiding scale replica modelers have an opportunity to continue their beloved hobby without interference.

"We look forward to continuing to work closely with the FAA regarding recreational small UAS operating requirements. As always, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our nation’s skies for all."

New Requirements for Recreational Users

AMA continues to work closely with the FAA to implement Section 349, the new operating requirements for recreational users. Although no new requirements had been put in place at the time that this article was written, we do expect the FAA to begin implementing portions of the new requirements soon.

AMA will continue to work on solutions that we hope will minimalize the impact that Section 349 has on our members. We will be sure to update our members with any new changes.

AMA’s most recent meetings on Capitol Hill focused on updating various committees and legislators on the implementation process and the impact burdensome regulations would have on our members and the hobby. When the new operating requirements were passed, the FAA assured AMA that the new rules would not prove overly burdensome for our community. Because of these assurances, AMA will continue to update Congress throughout the process.

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