The FAA released a legal interpretation detailing the types of remote control and model aircraft and aircraft operations the agency believes should be subject to federal regulation and oversight. The interpretation is a position statement coming on the heels of a court case in which an NTSB dministrative law judge ruled that the FAA did not have regulatory authority over model aircraft. The FAA claims that it does have regulatory authority over model aircraft when operated for compensation or hire.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics released a statement outlining its concerns about the interpretation, stating in part that “it is an abuse of the provision for interpretive rule” by federal agencies and that it is “unnecessarily restrictive, overreaching, and totally unrelated to the safety aspects of operating model aircraft.”
EAA has concerns about the scope of the interpretation and the lack of safety data cited by the FAA to arrive at its position. EAA’s Advocacy and Safety Department is reviewing the original NTSB decision, the FAA’s appeal, and the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which orders the agency to create rulemaking and policy regarding unmanned aerial systems. After this review is complete, EAA will write and submit comments to the federal docket. EAA members are also encouraged to comment on the interpretation.