Gov. Relations Blog – AMA Officers, Clubs and Members updating and sharing the latest Federal, State and Local government UAS regulatory news pertaining to AMA aeromodeling.

  • 18 May 2018 6:02 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Over the past few months, the AMA Government Affairs Team has been hard at work at the federal, state and local level to protect and preserve our longstanding hobby. Just last month, the House of Representatives passed its version of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. While much of what we fought for was included in this bill – including the preservation of Section 336, also known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft — there are also some provisions in the bill that concern us and would create further ambiguity for the recreational community. Our team has been busy preparing for the next step in the legislative process.

    We want to thank the thousands of AMA members who participated in our “Call to Action” in April to let Congress know about the importance of protecting our hobby. Your efforts during this critical time made a significant impact, and we appreciate your support.

    Here is a glimpse at some of our most recent activities:

    Federal Government Relations

    Our team has attended several meetings with legislators on protecting the Special Rule for Model Aircraft as the Senate prepares its own version of the FAA reauthorization bill. In addition, we met with stakeholders in the manned and unmanned aircraft communities to gather support for our hobby. Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill that will strengthen the Special Rule for Model Aircraft and affirm the role of community-based organizations in managing the model aircraft community.

    We also recently met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to discuss possible solutions for eight of our clubs that have lost flying sites on USACE maintained properties.

    State and Local Government Relations

    At the local level, AMA continues to engage with legislators on problematic bills in various states. Recently, we have reached out to local communities in Oceanside, California and Greenwood Village, Colorado to assist with legislative issues. We also provided guidance to the National Institute of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland to help draft a practical UAS ordinance.

    Other Recent Activities

    In April, members of AMA’s Government Affairs Team attended the 64th Toledo Show: R/C Model Expo in Toledo, Ohio, North America’s largest and longest running R/C model expo. The team spoke with AMA members about flying model aircraft safely and answered questions regarding the latest on federal, state and local regulations.

    In addition, AUVSI held their annual XPONENTIAL show May 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, Colorado. While there, the AMA team engaged with industry stakeholders concerning the latest innovations and discussed how to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace.

    As part of International Drone Day, the Minnesota Department of Transportation held their first annual Minnesota Drone Day in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Minnesota Drone Advocacy Council. AMA President Rich Hanson spoke at the event, providing information to the community on the latest drone regulations.

    As the FAA reauthorization legislative process progresses, it is important to remember that it may take months for Congress to arrive at a consensus. We may ask for your help to alert lawmakers on the importance of the hobby during this time, so please continue to monitor your emails, social media and for the latest information. You can view how legislation that includes the Special Rule for Model Aircraft is moving through Congress here.

  • 20 Apr 2018 5:56 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Today, the House of Representatives passed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R.4), a long-term reauthorization of the FAA. We are happy to share that Section 336, also known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, is included in this bill with meaningful refinements that we supported to help make it stronger. We especially want to thank the thousands of members who participated in our Call to Action in the last few weeks to let Congress know the importance of protecting our hobby. Your efforts during this critical time have made a significant impact.

    While much of what we fought for was included in this bill, there are also some provisions that concern us. Rest assured – we will continue to work on improving FAA Reauthorization moving forward. Protecting our hobby is AMA’s top priority and we will do everything possible to ensure your ability and freedom to fly.

    Please remember there are several more steps in the process before FAA Reauthorization becomes law. The next step is for the Senate to consider its own version of FAA Reauthorization, and then both the House and Senate bills will be sent to a Joint Committee to hash out a final version of the legislation. This process could take months and we may ask for your help again during this time.

    Again, we cannot thank you enough for your unwavering support. Please continue to monitor your emails, social media, and for new information and ways you can help.

  • 10 Apr 2018 5:54 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    We wanted to make you aware that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently contacted AMA concerning the use of nitromethane in gas-powered model aircraft. DHS regulates security at high-risk chemical facilities under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, which works to reduce the security risks associated with certain chemicals that DHS has labeled “chemicals of interest.”

    Nitromethane, which is used as a fuel additive in some radio control, control line and free flight model aircraft, has been identified by DHS as a “chemical of interest” and an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) precursor chemical. Nitromethane can be dangerous when used inappropriately; for example, it was used in the terrorist truck bombing in Oklahoma City, OK in 1995.

    There is concern extremist groups could use nitromethane to inflict harm and cause serious damage, so we ask our members to be vigilant and help identify any unusual behavior.  If there is immediate danger, call 911; otherwise contact DHS at 877-394-4347. Any individual or facility that possesses 400 lbs., approximately 42 gallons, or more of nitromethane must report their chemical holdings to DHS within 60 days by filing a Top-Screen survey. If you currently possess this amount of nitromethane, you must report your chemical holdings immediately. If you purchase this amount of nitromethane in the future, you must report it to DHS. How do I report to DHS?

    Thank you for all you do to protect our longstanding hobby, including complying with processes like those outlined above. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the AMA Government Affairs team at 800-435-9262.

  • 06 Apr 2018 2:49 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    AMA’s number one priority is the safety of our nation’s skies. Through Section 336, AMA safely manages 200,000 members – as the organization has done for more than eighty years – freeing up scarce FAA resources to advance commercial drone regulations and other priorities. At the same time, AMA lends its safety expertise to the broader drone community through efforts such as Know Before You Fly.

    Even with AMA managing a portion of the recreational community and funding broader educational efforts, the FAA is still under-resourced to handle the growing surge in commercial drones, Part 107 waiver requests and future rulemakings. Eliminating Section 336 will exacerbate the demand on the agency’s resources, which may have implications for the commercial drone industry and the safety of our skies. Public-private partnerships with experienced community-based organizations like AMA, which are facilitated by Section 336, can be helpful in alleviating strain on the FAA and enhance safety.

    Furthermore, model aviation enthusiasts have been the cradle of innovation for both the manned and unmanned communities for decades. Many mistakenly believe drones are a recent innovation. To the contrary – the AMA community has helped to develop and advance the platform since the 1930s. Even today, as drone technology continues to improve, modelers are dreaming up new ways to apply and use this technology every day. 336 not only allows aviation innovation to continue, but does so under the time-tested guidance of the AMA. Imagine a world where a young Steve Jobs or Henry Ford were restricted from tinkering in their garage. A repeal of Section 336 would be a devastating blow to innovation.

    We recognize some tweaks to Section 336 may be needed to clarify who the provision does and does not cover. We also recognize that remote identification requirements make sense at an appropriate threshold of weight and capability, such as for more sophisticated drones. That’s why we are actively working with Congress, the manned aviation community and the UAS industry on policy solutions to these challenges within the framework of Section 336.

    While we support commercial drone endeavors, Congress should not allow for-profit companies to dictate legislation abolishing a segment of the hobby with a strong, eighty-plus year safety record. We need to advance drone deliveries in such a way that manned aircraft, commercial drone operators and hobbyists all operate safely and harmoniously together, as manned aviation and model aviation have done for decades. No one group has a greater claim to the nation’s airspace than any other.

  • 28 Mar 2018 9:46 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    We wanted to share with you a bit of what the AMA Government Affairs team has been up to over the past few weeks, including recent outreach and at the federal, state and local level to advocate for and protect our hobby.

    Federal Government Relations

    This month, our team attended several meetings with legislators to help Congress strengthen and protect the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. On March 23, President Trump signed the omnibus spending bill into law, which includes a six-month extension of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authorization. This extension provides vital continuity for the aviation community, including those who fly with AMA. We continue to work with Congress on a long-term reauthorization bill that will strengthen the Special Rule and affirm the role of community-based organizations.

    State and Local Government Relations

    At the local level, AMA continues to engage with legislators on 17 problematic bills in various states. Over the past few months, we have helped various local communities resolve legislative issues:

    • New York: We have contacted council members in Nichols, NY to voice AMA’s opposition regarding a restrictive ordinance.
    • California: The team has been particularly active in California, reaching out to community leaders in Lodi and Sausalito to offer guidance and resources on a proposed ordinance.
    • New Jersey: AMA has contacted legislators in opposition to several proposed local bills.

    Other Recent Activities

    In February, members of AMA’s Government Affairs Team attended AMA Expo East in Secaucus, New Jersey and shared information with AMA members on flying model aircraft safely, developing flying sites and the latest on federal, state and local regulations.

    In March, the FAA held its 3rd annual UAS Symposium at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland.  While there, the team engaged with industry stakeholders regarding the latest industry developments, regulations and collaborated on how to safely integrate UAS into our nation’s airspace.

    In addition, the AMA Government Affairs team attended the Aerospace and Aviation Days in Sacramento, California to promote the model aviation hobby to the public and state legislators.

    For the most current information on all of our government advocacy work, please visit our website

    As always, we thank you for all you do to support our longstanding hobby, and we look forward to continuing to work with you in 2018.

    AMA Government Affairs Team

  • 27 Jan 2018 3:25 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Federal Registration

    Last month, we shared new information about the FAA’s UAS registration requirement, which Congress has reinstated.

    On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed legislation that will reverse the earlier court ruling in the John Taylor case and restore the FAA’s UAS registration requirement, including for AMA members. 

    AMA believes that registration makes sense at some level, but has pushed for a more reasonable threshold. While we address these issues, members will be legally required to comply with the FAA registration requirement. 

    Following are some frequently asked questions. Answers are based on the information available at time of press and are subject to change. 

    Q: If I already registered, do I have register again?
    A: You will not have to register again since this bill simply reverses the John Taylor case. We will share more as details emerge.

    Q: Do I need to register again if I requested a refund and asked to be removed from the registration list?
    A: You will need to re-register only if you received FAA confirmation that your request to be removed the database was honored.

    Q: I did not request a refund/removal from registration database, will my registration number and expiration date stay the same?
    A: Yes, your registration number and expiration date will remain the same unless you requested that the FAA remove your information from the database, and received FAA conformation of this removal. 

    Q: How do I register?
    A: You can register at If you need assistance, please call 877 396 4636. 

    Q: Do I have to register every aircraft?
    A: You only need to register your name, physical address, and email address once. You will receive a single FAA registration number which is to be placed inside all of your aircraft along with your AMA number. 

    Q: Do only drones and multirotor operators need to register?
    A: Anyone who flies a model that can freely navigate in the air and uses a remote control device (e.g. RC transmitter) is required to register. This includes drones, traditional fixed wing model aircraft, model helicopters, and other remote controlled model aircraft. If you exclusively fly models under .55 pounds, indoors, control line, or free flight models - you do not need to register. 

    Q: Do I need to list both my AMA number and my federal registration number on my aircraft?
    A: Yes, you need to list both your AMA number and Federal registration number on your aircraft. We are advocating to allow members to use their AMA numbers. We believe an AMA membership already meets the intent of registration, but at this time place both numbers on your aircraft. 

    Q: How does UAS registration affect my membership? 
    A: AMA club or member benefits are not contingent on UAS registration. We encourage all members to follow Federal regulations, but we are not policing UAS registration. 

    Q: Should clubs, contest directors, or event leaders require all pilots be registered?
    A: No, we are not asking our clubs or contest directors to police UAS Registration. That decision is up to each individual club and event leader. 

    Q: I am an Affiliate Member, do not live in the US, or I am not a US Citizen. How do I register?
    A:Everyone, including foreign nationals and tourists, who operate a UAS for hobby or recreational purposes outdoors in the U.S. must use the FAA’s online registration system. These non-U.S. citizens or non-permanent U.S. residents will receive the same registration certificate as U.S. Citizens or permanent U.S. residents. However, this certificate will function as a “recognition of ownership” document. This document is required by the Department of Transportation for foreign nationals to operate legally in the US. 

    Visiting pilots can only use a computer with a United States IP address to register. When arriving in the states, pilots can register using a US computer at a hotel, guest home, or even at AMA HQ. For assistance you can call 877 396 4636 or email

    Q: I only fly CL, FF, or indoors - do I need to register?
    A: No. If you exclusively fly indoors, FF, or CL you do not need to register. 

    Q: Can I fly my large model aircraft? Turbine jets?
    A: Yes. The Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, allows AMA members to operate model aircraft over 55 lbs as long as they are operating in accordance with AMA’s Large Model Aircraft safety program. AMA members can also fly turbine jets provided the operator holds a current AMA Turbine Waiver.

    Q: Does my large model aircraft require an N number?
    A: AMA representatives, including AMA’s legal counsel, met with the FAA on January 15, 2016, and this was one of the many questions that were raised. The FAA representatives confirmed that AMA members, operating models under the Large Model Airplane Program, should not have to apply for an N number. 

    Q: Am I permitted to fly first person view (FPV)? Can I fly at night?
    A: Yes. AMA members are still protected by the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which is part of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. As long as AMA members continue to follow AMA's safety guidelines for these activities, they can continue to fly. The guidelines listed on the FAA UAS website do not negate the modeling activities and related safety procedures established in AMA's community-based safety program. 

    Q: What happens if I don’t register?
    A: According to the FAA, failure to register an unmanned aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. 

    Q: Can I register by paper?
    A: We understand there are AMA members who do not have a computer. The FAA offers a paper application, which currently is only available at local FAA Flight Standards Ditrict Offices (FSDO), but this process can take many months. If a member does not have a computer, we encourage them to have a club or family member help them register. 

    Q: I do not want to give my credit card information over the internet or have a computer? What should I do?
    A: As for members who cannot or do not want to submit credit card information online, the FAA has agreed to accept gift credit cards such as Visa or Mastercard. You can purchase these gift cards, which closely resemble a credit card, through many retailers.

    Q: Is my registration information publicly available?
    A: No. At this time, the registration database is not searchable.

  • 10 Jan 2018 3:48 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Fourth Quarter 2017 Government Relations Update

    As the New Year begins, the AMA Government Relations team would like to take a moment to update you on our work during the last few months of 2017 to represent and protect our hobby at the federal, local and state level.

    Federal Government Relations

    Over the past few months, the team made multiple trips to Washington, D.C. for meetings with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as lawmakers on Capitol Hill, about the importance of preserving Section 336, also known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. These meetings included discussions with the FAA on VIP NOTAM/Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) waivers, as well as the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) on the remote identification and tracking of UAS. In addition, the team met with the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) to discuss recommendations for state and local governments on safely incorporating UAS into our nation’s airspace.

    Importantly, AMA also participated in Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) meetings, a public-private committee committed to ensuring the safe operation of UAS. We also helped lead the Drone Sightings Working Group within this committee, which recently released a final report on the FAA’s drone sightings data earlier this month. This report found that only a small percentage of pilot reports of drones pose a safety risk while the vast majority are simply sightings. These findings are consistent with AMA’s own analysis of the FAA’s drone data.

    In addition, the team attended the launch of a new White House pilot program to integrate UAS into the airspace. This program will include five to twelve local communities and organizations to test a new drone program. AMA is applying to participate in the program, which will help local authorities and the UAS industry coordinate with the FAA and keep our skies safe for all.

    Finally, an op-ed by Rich Hanson was published in The Hill in early January, which discusses the difference between pilots flying under Section 336 and Part 107. The piece encourages Congress to help recreational drone pilots understand how to comply with Part 107 and to task the FAA with increasing enforcement to help hold Part 107 violators accountable for their actions.

    State and Local Government Relations

    At the local level, we continued to monitor state and local legislation that could negatively affect our hobby. We worked with local lawmakers throughout Kansas, North Carolina, Washington, Missouri and California to combat potentially harmful legislation. Opinion pieces from local AMA members were also published in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman in Alaska, as well as the Omaha World-Herald in Nebraska.

    Lastly, the team presented or participated at the Drone World Expo in San Jose, California, the National League of Cities Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Air Traffic Controllers Association Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Conference & Exposition in Los Angeles, California.

    AMA is successful because of members like you! As always, thank you for you all you’ve done advocate for our hobby in 2017. We look forward to a successful 2018.

  • 02 Jan 2018 4:30 AM | Andrew (Administrator)

    Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers

    We would like to share with you a new op-ed by AMA president Rich Hanson, which was published in The Hill newspaper: “Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers”.

    The Hill is a news outlet in Washington, D.C. that many members of Congress, and their staff, read on a regular basis. This article, which you can read in full below, is just one part of our ongoing efforts to protect the hobby of flying model aircraft.

    Punish rogue recreational drone pilots — not the rule followers


    There is a lot of misinformation, and lack of information, surrounding the policies that govern recreational drones. Even those who work on drone policy inaccurately characterize provisions allowing for recreational use of drones, Part 107 and Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. This mischaracterization branding these provisions as a “get out of jail free” card for anyone who wants to fly drones or model aircraft, as a recent opinion piece in The Hill argued. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

    I agree with the Commercial Drone Alliance that drones have significant potential to support public officials and help small businesses grow. However, critics like the alliance completely mischaracterize the challenge of regulating recreational drones.

    Let me be clear — if you are flying drones for recreational purposes today, you must be operating within an established safety program, and there are two ways of doing so. By default, recreational pilots are to fly under the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rule, known as Part 107.

    The only other way to operate is to fully comply with the criteria of Section 336 (Part 101) and fly within the programming of a community-based organization. Federal regulations require that recreational drone flyers must be educated and operate under one of these two options.

    The problem is that many people don’t understand this.

    According to the current laws, recreational drone pilots are only eligible to fly under Section 336 if they fly in accordance with the safety guidelines and within the safety programming of a community-based organization, such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics. By our estimate, only about 200,000 people fall into this category, most of them are academy members.

    To put this in perspective, according to the FAA, around 900,000 recreational users have registered their drones with the agency so far. The math from here is easy — about 200,000 people fly under Section 336 and the remaining 700,000 are required to operate under Part 107. Those that aren’t flying under Part 107 are in violation 14 CFR § 107.12, the requirement for a remote pilot certificate.

    The truth is Section 336 is not to blame for rogue flyers. Those people are Part 107 violators — and should be treated as such.

    If Congress wants to increase the safety of our skies, they should help recreational drone pilots understand that they need to comply with Part 107. Congress should also task the FAA with increasing enforcement so that those who violate Part 107 are held accountable for their actions.

    Many recreational drone pilots already know when, where and how to fly safely, and they comply with the law. Many pilots follow rigorous safety guidelines and our members are afforded a $2.5 million-dollar liability insurance policy, establishing financial responsibility.

    Pilots following the rules are not the problem, but we acknowledge that some tweaks to Section 336 may be necessary to clarify who the provision does and does not cover. We are willing to work with Congress and the UAS industry to ensure that those that fly under Section 336 are educated, trained and managed by an established community-based organization — and that everyone else operates under Part 107.

    Rogue flyers are Part 107 violators. We must, first and foremost, make clear the need to follow Part 107 if not operating within a community-based organization. And when someone violates Part 107, he or she needs to be held accountable. Unfounded statements asking to revoke the Special Rule only harm a community of responsible model aviation hobbyists and will do nothing to curb the 700,000 rogue drone pilots.

    Interest in drones has soared this year and shows no signs of slowing down. As it currently stands, the FAA is under-resourced to handle the growing surge in commercial drones, Part 107 waiver requests and future rulemakings. That’s why public-private partnerships with experienced community-based organization s such as Academy of Model Aeronautics can be helpful in alleviating the strain on the FAA and enhance safety.

    In the next FAA reauthorization bill, Congress should continue to allow organizations such as AMA to manage its members as part of the recreational community, preserving the option to fly safely and responsibly under our guidelines, oversight and eighty years of experience.

    Rich Hanson is the President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

  • 20 Dec 2017 3:00 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    What Does Remote ID and Tracking Mean For Our Members?

    As you may be aware, AMA participated in the FAA’s Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) advisory panel, which made recommendations to the agency on creating standards for remote identification and tracking unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The ARC identified technologies to allow law enforcement, homeland defense, national security and air traffic control communities to remotely track and identify UAS in the airspace. Today, the FAA released the recommendations the panel provided to the agency.

    One recommendation made by the panel requires that remote ID and tracking should only apply to aircraft that have the capability to fly autonomously, by navigating between more than one point without active control of the pilot, or flying beyond 400 feet using a real-time sensor or camera. This means that model aircraft not capable of autonomous or long-range operations do not have to comply with remote ID and tracking.

    An alternative recommendation requires all UAS to comply with remote ID and tracking with only a few exemptions. These exemptions include UAS for law enforcement or under air traffic control, models not capable of flying beyond 400 feet (such as toys) and models waived or exempted by the FAA or a community-based organization like the AMA.

    AMA believes remote identification and tracking for certain UAS makes sense at some level, depending on the UAS sophistication and capability. Throughout the numerous panel meetings and conversations that led to the advisory panel’s recommendations, AMA continuously advocated for a common-sense approach to remote identification and tracking that doesn’t harm our hobby or low-risk operations.

    Most importantly, we strongly believe that we must continue educating all UAS pilots, which is what truly equips hobbyists and commercial operators to fly responsibly.

  • 08 Nov 2017 7:54 PM | Andrew (Administrator)

    It is very likely Congress will pass and the President will sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act that will reverse the John Taylor case. This bill will again require that model aviation pilots, including AMA members, to register and label their aircraft with the FAA. Members who fly exclusively indoors, CL, FF, and/or models under .55 pounds will not be required to register. If a member previously registered with the FAA, they are not required to register again. Congress is hoping to hand this bill to the President for a signature before Thanksgiving.

        AMA believes registration makes sense at some level, but maintains that the criteria and thresholds needs revised. We also are advocating that members should be able to use their AMA number/membership as an alternative to the registration requirement. With that being said, we ask members to comply with the FAA registration rule once it is in effect while we work through these issues.

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