WASHINGTON June 24, 2014, - The Federal Aviation Administration is clarifying the permitted uses of unmanned model aircraft, citing an increase in reckless use of the models near airports and large crowds. The effort includes a list of “do’s and don’ts” for hobby enthusiasts.

Since Feb. 14, 2012, model aircraft operators have been required to comply with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The new guidance answers questions that have been raised about the act, the FAA said. The agency did not mention the word “drones” although incidents involving small drones or unmanned model planes jeopardizing civilian aircraft are reportedly on the rise.

“We want people who fly model aircraft for recreation to enjoy their hobby – but to enjoy it safely,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. At the Department of Transportation, which oversees FAA, “we often say that safety is a shared responsibility; so to help, we are providing additional information today to make sure model aircraft operators know exactly what’s expected of them,” Foxx said.

The regulations apply to model aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds for hobby or recreation operations and not for commercial use. The notice gives examples of hobby or recreation flights and operations that would not meet the definition.

The notice also restates the legal definition of “model aircraft,” noting that they cannot interfere with a manned aircraft, must be flown within sight of the operator and must be operated only for hobby or recreational purposes. Model aircraft operators flying within five miles of an airport must notify the airport operator and air traffic control tower.

“We have a mandate to protect the American people in the air and on the ground, and the public expects us to carry out that mission,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.  

FAA may take enforcement action against model aircraft operators who endanger the safety of the national airspace system. Enforcement authority is designed to protect users of the airspace as well as people and property on the ground.


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