The FAA releases guidance for model aircraft

FAA Logo09-02-15  The FAA released a revised version of 91-57A the advisory circular for model aircraft. The language also applies to sUAS (drones).

This revision reaffirms the FAA’s position that the guidance applies to recreational users. The document contains additional language advising modelers to operate “in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization.” The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) is really the only organization that fits this definition so recreational drone pilots are essentially directed to join the AMA and follow their guidelines.

This circular redefines model aircraft to include everything that flies by remote control, regardless how small. It also  advises recreational users to make contact with air traffic control before flying within 5 miles of an airport.  Under his advisory, someone flying a 1 oz micro quad 4.5 miles from an airport must first call and Air traffic Control(ATC) and inform ATC of the operator’s intention to fly. While this example may seem ridiculous I suspect the ATC and the FAA aren’t very interested in micro quads flying below the tree-line. I believe it unlikely the FAA would take enforcement action on a situation like this, however drone operators who fail to notify ATC and generate a complaint are without excuse and subject to enforcement action.

Sign up for free updates

About Bill Bongle

Bill Bongle is a retired police captain with over 30 years experience in public safety. He owns and operates the only drone repair center in the State of Wisconsin and is the founder of the Green Bay Area Drone User Group.