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AMA Safety Guidelines
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FlyMaine
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There's been much debate in this forum and elsewhere about what rules apply to recreational drone operators.  As many of you know, in the USA, under the curent statute, there are two sets of rules--one for licensed commercial operators and one for recreational users.  In order to qualify as a "recreational user",  you must follow "community-based safety guidelines".  I've attached a link to the Safety Guidelines published by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) which I believe is the only community-based organization explictily recognized by the FAA.  So, if you plan to fly in the USA as a recreational user, you should be familiar with the AMA Guidelines. While the AMA Guidelines do not contain an explicit height limit, they do require that you not fly in a "careless or reckless manner" and one could certainly argue that flying a drone like Spark above the 400' limit applicable to commecial operators is careless or reckless.  Additionally, the preamble to the AMA Safely Guidelines explicity provides that "all model flightsmust be conducted in accordance with this safelty code and related guidelines..." One guideline which appears to be frequently violated in videos posted on this site is to "avoid flying directly over unprotected people, moving vehicles, and occupied structures."  I hope this doesn't add to the confusion, and I'd be happy to hear from other forum members who are more initimately familiar with the regulatory scheme here in the USA than I am.  


https://www.modelaircraft.org/sites/default/files/100.pdf
2018-9-20
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msinger
Captain
Flight distance : 183694 ft
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FWIW, here are some interesting tidbits of information the FAA sent me when I emailed them about this topic some months ago:

  •     The FAA has no defined authority for the recognition of a nationwide community-based organization (CBO).
  •     Currently, the largest nationwide community-based organization that operates model aircraft is the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). While the AMA is the largest community-based organization, guiding you to their resources should not be taken as FAA’s endorsement of their resources.
  •     The AMA is a community-based organization. That’s how they define their organization.


The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 1 states a community-based organization is an organization that:

  • is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
  • is exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
  • the mission of which is demonstrably the furtherance of model aviation;
  • provides a comprehensive set of safety guidelines for all aspects of  model aviation addressing the assembly and operation of model aircraft  and that emphasize safe aeromodeling operations within the national  airspace system and the protection and safety of individuals and  property on the ground, and may provide a comprehensive set of safety  rules and programming for the operation of unmanned aircraft that have  the advanced flight capabilities enabling active, sustained, and  controlled navigation of the aircraft beyond visual line of sight of the  operator;
  • provides programming and support for any local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs; and
  • provides assistance and support in the development and operation of locally designated model aircraft flying sites.

While US law does not name a list of accepted nationwide community-based organizations (nor does the FAA since they have not been tasked to do so), here are some other organizations that claim to be nationwide community-based organizations:


2018-9-20
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FlyMaine
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msinger Posted at 2018-9-20 05:27
FWIW, here are some interesting tidbits of information the FAA sent me when I emailed them about this topic some months ago:

Thanks for the info.  I've bookmarked both groups. It's nice to see guidelines that were drafted specifically for drones as opposed to model aircraft, and it's  interesting that both groups' guidelines adopt a 400' height limit which I would think should put to rest the argument some are making that there is no height limit for recreational users.
2018-9-20
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msinger
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It's interesting, but it does not make it the law. If you had any doubts, you could just follow the AMA guidelines (which mentions no altitude limit).

US law has no altitude limit for recreational flyers. However, it does state you must fly VLOS (be able to see the drone with your eyes). If flying at or about 400 feet AGL, you're likely not going to be able to fly too far away from the takeoff point before the drone is beyond your sight.
2018-9-20
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Woe
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Good info, thanks for sharing
2018-9-20
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marlowe
Second Officer
Flight distance : 300932 ft
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>>>From the OP's original post (which he later edited apparently in reponse to what I said here about what he said): " While the AMA Guidelines do not contain an explicit height limit, they do require that you not fly in a "careless or reckless manner" and one could certainly argue that flying a drone like Spark above the 400' limit applicable to commecial operators is careless or reckless.  Additionally, the preamble to the AMA Safely Guidelines explicity provides that "all model flightsmust be conducted in accordance with this safelty code and related guidelines..." so, although they are entitled "Guidelines" they are effectively mandatory...both groups' guidelines adopt a 400' height limit which I would think should put to rest the argument some are making that there is no height  limit for recreational users"

My response to the original OP post: I think a 400' limit is generally a good idea  (as well as the other FAA section 336 guidelines). But really, unless you happen to be an attorney practicing FAA law (or at least general administrative law), you have no idea what you are talking about. You are making pronouncements and expressing simplistic conclusions based on wishful thinking that may be completely wrong. Another amateur lawyer could make a contrary argument that is at least as good as yours -- better in my view, but then, I'm not an attorney.

I'll add this. While it isn't mandatory that you not edit and change your original post after someone posts a direct response to it, it is an excellent guideline.


2018-9-20
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marlowe
Second Officer
Flight distance : 300932 ft
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OK - I'll play lawyer too. From the FAA at https://www.faa.gov/uas/media/model_aircraft_spec_rule.pdf:
"...and recommended a set of voluntary operating standards for model aircraft operators to follow to mitigate these safety risks. See Advisory Circular 91-57, Model Aircraft Operating Standards (June 9, 1981). These operating standards included restricting operations over populated areas, limiting use of the devices around spectators until after the devices had been flight tested and proven airworthy; restricting operations to 400 feet above the surface..."

Note the word voluntary -- not quite the same as mandatory.

And then there is this letter from the FAA to the AMA:https://amablog.modelaircraft.or ... /07/FAA-400feet.pdf which states
"As stated in the FAA's interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft,...the 400 foot altitude is recommended and not a requirement of section 336."

If the provided links don't work, try cut and paste.
2018-9-20
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