Comments to FAA re: UAS Prohibition

This is a follow up to my post earlier today, detailing the FAA’s proposed prohibition on flying RC aircraft via “first person view” (FPV) as well as operating commercially.  If you missed that post you can get caught up HERE.

For those willing to comment on the FAA’s memo of interpretation, I wanted to share what I had written to help and perhaps inspire others to take the time to write a comment, however brief.  Every comment counts!

YOU CAN (and I encourage you to) SUBMIT YOUR OWN COMMENT HERE:!documentDetail;D=FAA-2014-0396-0001

Here’s what I said:

To whom it may concern,

I would like to respectfully yet strongly urge the FAA to reconsider their memo (docket # FAA-2014-0396) regarding interpretations to the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

First, the terminology used in the Special Rule for Model Aircraft- “line-of-sight”- is the same specific terminology used in describing the radio frequencies and technology used for controlling model aircraft (which is governed/permitted by the FCC).  If it is the FAA’s intent to maintain public safety without unnecessarily restrictive laws, then the current mandate for operating model aircraft within the constraints of “line-of-sight” is sufficient for operators to maintain control of their aircraft in order to ensure safe operation.  No further clarification is required.

The clarifications published in the memo are unnecessarily restrictive.  In fact, there is no supporting evidence that such a strict interpretation of “line-of-sight” operation will increase public safety in any way.  In many cases, operating a model aircraft utilizing an onboard real-time video feed (“FPV”) is both easier and safer for all involved.  The reason for this ruling is stated to be the limited ability of the pilot to “see and avoid” other aircraft while flying utilizing a live video feed.  Given the requirement to operate below 400 ft AGL, it is highly unlikely air traffic- aside from other modelers- will be encountered.  Additionally, the visibility limitations of FPV flight are significantly less than that experienced in most general aviation and commercial use aircraft.

If the concern is what should happen to the aircraft should the video feed suddenly fail, perhaps requiring a failsafe “return to home” function- which is already equipped standard on many FPV models- would satisfy the FAA’s concerns without overly restricting all model aircraft operations?

Furthermore, the specification that flights making use of FPV “First Person View” technologies will be prohibited is NOT a clarification on “line-of-sight”, but in fact a new regulation altogether.  This is clearly forbidden in FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which states the FAA may not “promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft”

And finally, why are commercial operations so heavily feared and regulated against?  There are many positive and constructive uses for aerial imaging.  The recent availability and accessibility of affordable aerial imaging equipment may be cause for concern, but I plead that criminalizing such activity is NOT the best course of action.  This new technology has created a massive industry, and has been an enormous boost to the US economy.

Allowing model aircraft pilots to commercially operate would greatly stimulate the US economy, allowing people like myself to use their skill and equipment to provide for our families.  Everyone entirely agrees that aerial imaging operations must be conducted while prioritizing safety for all, and regulations in this spirit would be readily embraced.  But I will reiterate, the ban on all commercial use of model aircraft is unnecessarily stifling and detrimental to the US economy.

There are existing provisions in place for “special use permits” for commercial operations, such as those in place for operating on government land (such as State or National Parks).  There is no reason this existing program could not be adapted to allow for the commercial operation of aerial imaging utilizing model aircraft.

I would like to thank you for your time and consideration on this, and one last time I urge you in reconsideration of docket # FAA-2014-0396: Interpretations of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

The Academy of Model Aeronautics (“AMA”) has issued a formal and public response, which can be read HERE

Ready Made RC, LLC is the largest US retailer in FPV equipment, and they too have issued a response HERE

I’d like to thank anyone that takes the time to share their feelings with the FAA, which again can be done HERE