14 Cfr Part 91 (Docket No. FAA-2014-0396), Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

This "14 Cfr Part 91 (Docket No. Faa-2014-0396), Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft" is a part of the paperwork released by the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Aviation Administration specifically for United States residents.

The latest fillable version of the document was released on June 18, 2014 and can be downloaded through the link below or found through the department's forms library.

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[4910-13]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 91
[Docket No. FAA-2014-0396]
Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft
AGENCY:
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION:
Notice of Interpretation with Request for Comment
SUMMARY: This action provides interested persons with the opportunity to comment
on the FAA’s interpretation of the special rule for model aircraft established by Congress
in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this interpretation, the FAA
clarifies that: model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model
aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; and consistent with the
Act, if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System,
the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those
safety violations.
DATES: Comments must be received on or before [INSERT DATE 30 DAYS AFTER
PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].
ADDRESSES: You may send comments identified by docket number FAA-2014-0396
using any of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the
online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
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[4910-13]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Aviation Administration
14 CFR Part 91
[Docket No. FAA-2014-0396]
Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft
AGENCY:
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION:
Notice of Interpretation with Request for Comment
SUMMARY: This action provides interested persons with the opportunity to comment
on the FAA’s interpretation of the special rule for model aircraft established by Congress
in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In this interpretation, the FAA
clarifies that: model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model
aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; and consistent with the
Act, if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System,
the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those
safety violations.
DATES: Comments must be received on or before [INSERT DATE 30 DAYS AFTER
PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].
ADDRESSES: You may send comments identified by docket number FAA-2014-0396
using any of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the
online instructions for sending your comments electronically.
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• Mail: Send Comments to Docket Operations, M-30; US Department of
Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor,
Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
• Hand Delivery: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the
West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC,
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
• Fax: (202) 493-2251.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dean E. Griffith, Attorney,
Regulations Division, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration,
800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-3073;
email: dean.griffith@faa.gov.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Comments Invited
The FAA invites interested persons to submit written comments, data, or views
concerning this interpretation. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of
the interpretation, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include
supporting data. To ensure the docket does not contain duplicate comments, please send
only one copy of written comments, or if you are filing comments electronically, please
submit your comments only one time.
The FAA will file in the docket all comments received, as well as a report
summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerning this
interpretation. The FAA will consider all comments received on or before the closing
date for comments and any late-filed comments if it is possible to do so without incurring
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expense or delay. While this is the FAA’s interpretation of statute and regulations
relevant to model aircraft, the FAA may modify this interpretation based on comments
received.
Availability of This Interpretation
You can get an electronic copy using the Internet by—
(1)
Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
(2)
Visiting the FAA’s Regulations and Policies web page at
http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/; or
(3)
Accessing the Government Printing Office’s web page at
http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.
You can also get a copy by sending a request to the Federal Aviation Administration,
Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591,
or by calling (202) 267-9680. Make sure to identify the docket number or notice number
of this proposal.
Background
The FAA is issuing this interpretation because we have received many inquiries
regarding the scope of the special rule for model aircraft in section 336 of the FAA
Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and the FAA’s enforcement authority over model
aircraft as affirmed by the statute. In this interpretation, we explain the history of FAA
oversight of model aircraft operations and the new statutory requirements that apply to
model aircraft operations, and then clarify how the FAA intends to apply its enforcement
authority to model aircraft operations that endanger the safety of the National Airspace
System (NAS).
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Discussion of the Interpretation
I.
Background of FAA Oversight of Model Aircraft Operations
Historically, the FAA has considered model aircraft to be aircraft that fall within the
statutory and regulatory definitions of an aircraft, as they are contrivances or devices that
are “invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.” See 49 USC 40102 and 14
CFR 1.1. As aircraft, these devices generally are subject to FAA oversight and
enforcement. However, consistent with FAA’s enforcement philosophy, FAA’s
oversight of model aircraft has been guided by the risk that these operations present. The
FAA first recognized in 1981 that “model aircraft can at times pose a hazard to full-scale
aircraft in flight and to persons and property on the surface,” 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; requiring that
the devices give right of way to, and avoid flying near manned aircraft, and using
observers to assist in operations.
These guidelines were further clarified in 2007, when the FAA issued a policy
statement regarding unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations in the NAS. See 72
Fed. Reg. 6689 (Feb. 13, 2007). In this policy statement, the FAA also recognized that
UAS fall within the statutory and regulatory definition of “aircraft” as they are devices
that are “used or [are] intended to be used for flight in the air with no onboard pilot.” Id.;
see also 49 U.S.C. 40102; 14 CFR 1.1. The FAA noted that they can be “as simple as a
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remotely controlled model aircraft used for recreational purposes or as complex as
surveillance aircraft flying over hostile areas in warfare.” The FAA then stated its
current policy regarding UAS based on the following three categories: (1) UAS used as
public aircraft; (2) UAS used as civil aircraft; and (3) UAS used as model aircraft.
With respect to UAS used as model aircraft, the FAA reiterated the operating
guidelines in AC 91-57, and further noted that to qualify as a model aircraft, the aircraft
would need to be operated purely for recreational or hobby purposes, and within the
visual line of sight of the operator. The policy statement also clarified that AC 91-57
applied only to modelers and “specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for
business purposes.” 72 FR at 6690.
II. Requirements to Qualify as a Model Aircraft under the FAA Modernization and
Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95, section 336).
A. Statutory Requirements
On February 14, 2012, the President signed into law the FAA Modernization and
Reform Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95) (the Act), which established, in Section 336, a “special
rule for model aircraft.” In Section 336, Congress confirmed the FAA’s long-standing
position that model aircraft are aircraft. Under the terms of the Act, a model aircraft is
defined as “an unmanned aircraft” that is “(1) capable of sustained flight in the
atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
(3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” P.L. 112-95, section 336(c). Congress’
intention to define model aircraft as aircraft is further established by section 331(8) of the
Act, which defines an unmanned aircraft as “an aircraft that is operated without the
possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.” Congress’
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