FAA and the RC/Drone Pilot The 11 Rules
Hi, i’m tim welcome to my channel in this video we’re going to go over the faa’s 11 rules that recreational rc pilots must follow. Let’S get to it, as i mentioned in the intro, we’re going to go over the 11 rules that the faa has published, that all recreational rc pilots should uh be following with rc pilots. I use that at shorthand for people that fly fixed-wing airplanes, particularly at club fields. Rc pilots can also include drone pilots that fly the more common quadcopters. The history of the involvement of the faa with the rc modeling industry has been an interesting one.
I’Ve been flying radio control model airplanes since 1972.. In those early days of flight, we had essentially no interaction with the faa whatsoever. We would fly our models there, weren’t that many because, unlike today, you had to build everything you’re going to fly. The models were all gas powered, which kind of lent itself towards operating out of club fields, but that started changing about the year 2000 or so, with the introduction of practical ready-to-fly drones with electric power lipo batteries, the ability for somebody to just go into a store Buy a model and be flying that that afternoon things started to change the other thing that uh added to the change with the drones, where many of the drones, if not the vast majority, have some sort of camera or video device on it.
So you could fly and take some very interesting pictures for web channels or personal use or whatever. So what was happening was there were thousands today, hundreds of thousands of people operating models in the national airspace system, potentially interfering with other aircraft with absolutely no training from the faa on what airspace is, what they should do, what they shouldn’t do and the faa started Becoming aware of these drones because there have been initially some complaints flying over neighbors yards, etc, but now there’s a lot of complaints flying near airports, interfering with air traffic operations i’ll go into it later in the video. But this is an example from the faa website. I’Ll put a detailed copy up here of just three months worth of drone sightings reported to the faa by anyone from private pilots to airline crews. These um sightings are over 100 sightings a month.
That’S about 1200 a year and they’re increasing in nature, we’ll go into more detail on that later on. So the faa realized that there was a potential problem with rc aircraft, both models and drones in the national airspace system and the way the faa works. Is they don’t wait for an accident to happen before they do something they try to look at the environment, see what’s going right, see what’s going wrong and take action so with the drones there was a realization that something needed to be done now. The other thing that happened, that modelers should be aware of is the involvement of congress in all these activities. Because of these complaints through our system of government is congress became aware that something had to be done to regulate unmanned aircraft, which is the official congressional faa term for rc models and small drones.
Something had to be done with unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system. So there’s a series of discussions with the faa earlier acts of congress and really the first time that congress got involved with rc modelers, and this will flow into the 11 rules. At the end of the video was in 2015, we were required to register our rc model airplanes. It was discussed, it was updated on the faa website, but starting in 2015 uh even recreational models. We have to register all of our aircraft.
It’S very easy to do in the faa website as a recreational flyer, in other words, you’re not doing it for business. You just register once every three years you get a number that same number goes on all your models, but that was the first step. The second step was the faa realized that they had to do something about regulating commercial unmanned aircraft operations and without going to a lot of detail on this video, the faa takes a very distinct view between people that fly for pleasure versus people that fly for business. For for profit and what it boils down to people that fly for business are subject to a lot more restrictions and regulatory oversight than recreational pilots. So what happened in 2016 was the first issuance of the faa part 107 regulations, which was a certification for commercial unmanned aircraft operators, and so discussions happened with congress.
Further things happen and what i want to show you is it actually unmanned aircraft made it into an act of congress, so this again is from the faa website i’ll put uh the paper on top of the video. This is an actual act of congress. Uh an act of congress from 2018 on the faa reauthorization act. This act is an extremely important one because it gives the faa authorization to do what it does: funds the faa, but, more importantly, it authorizes the faa to write regulations and so there’s a whole laundry list of things that have to be done. These are some of the things that are broken out just for unmanned aircraft and what they do is definitions, comprehensive plan use of unmanned aircraft at colleges, privacy, review on and on and on.
These are marching orders from congress to the faa. So the faa does various things like register, uavs or part 107, or what was contained in this 2018 act was the remote id requirement for unmanned aircraft and i’ll put a card up for the remote remote id. The congress has directed the faa to do something about remote id, which resulted in the third involvement of the faa with recreational modelers. The passage of the final act for remote id on december 28th on 2020
This video is being filmed in january of 2021. as a private and commercial pilot.
I’Ve been dealing with the faa for about 50 years, so i’m fairly familiar with how they work, and i have a little bit of an insight to their thinking. Just watching and reading about various things the faa has done and what has been difficult over the years is to find the final rule on various faa actions. There’S regulatory interpretations, there’s advisory circulars, there’s a range of publications and actions by the faa. One way for recreational rc pilots like ourselves to get that information. It’S on the faa website.
The the website is faa.gov. It’S a very well done website that is updated on a quite regular basis and it is a wonderful source of information for what the faa is doing if it hasn’t made it right into the regulations, and so that will lead to the subject of this video, which Is the 11 rules for recreational arts, radio control model, airplane pilots? So let’s take a quick look at the faa website and where you can find these rules to look at them yourself and then we’ll go over them in the remaining portion of this video. This is the faa website.
Home page, you can see, we go to the uas unmanned aircraft systems and right on the uh menu on the left is recreational flyers community based organizations. These are the 11 rules that go over in the rest of the video to include the future changes that will require uh tests and community-based organizations. This is a link to the act of congress described in the um that authorizes all these actions. We eventually get down to section 341. These are specifics on unmanned aircraft operations.
So what we just saw on the website is this print out here, and these are recreational flyers and model modeler community based organizations. So they talk about people who don’t make money flying their rc model airplanes. The community-based organizations are very important because the faa recognizes there are a certain community-based organizations that have been around for a long period of time. They’Ve developed a code of safety members tend to follow this code of safety and they’re, a good contact point to reach out to the individual modelers and, of course, our main community based organizations academy of model aeronautics. That’S not stated by the faa, but that’s that’s our advocate with the faa and so on this faa publication.
They talk about the law that i showed you earlier. You can click to see that actual one the faa says following these rules and they’re, not calling them regulations or calling them rules, but remember because congress has directed the fda to do these things. They’Ll eventually make it into some regulations. The faa is just not there right now, but following these rules will keep you and your drone safe help keep the airspace available to everyone airspace available to everyone. That’S a pretty clear reference that if we don’t follow these rules in a good faith nature, we could be restricted from the air airspace.
Remember nobody has a right to fly their radar control model. It’S a privilege. We’Ve got to participate with the faa on their guidance to safely operate in the national aerospace system, so the 11 rules, the first one, is to register drone and mark it on the outside of the registration number and carry that registration with you. The registration is super easy to do on the faa website. You do it once every three years, you’ll get a number you use on each drone.
This is rule number one. We should all register our drones and mark our rc models. If you have 50 rc modelers, it’s the same registration on all 50 for recreational flyers. Number two of 11 from the faa fly only for recreational purposes. What this means is you can’t be making money uh on your rc model aircrafts.
These are sunday flyers flying at the club field. The faa, as i mentioned earlier, takes a very clear distinction for people flying to make money in the case of airlines carrying passengers for drones. Anything you do to make money working for a real estate company pictures for your youtube channel things of that nature. All that’s covered by part 107 that came into effect in 2016 um and there’s about 210 000 part 107. Pilots in the united states flying you have to take a pretty comprehensive written exam with 30 questions.
I took my part 107 last month. I have the license, so i know about that. But this video recreational pilots only rule number three out of 11. You have to fly your drone below 400 feet above the ground when in uncontrolled airspace, that’s just the rule to fly above that you’re working waivers of the faa right now. Recreational pilots are under 400 feet above ground altitude number four: you must obtain authorization from the faa be fly before flying in controlled airspace, that’s class b, c d, b, c d and e airspace.
It goes how you can get the authorization it’s on the website. I am producing a separate video explaining the difference between controlled and uncontrolled airspace, but you absolutely have to have prior permission from the faa before flying in what the faa has defined as control airspace number five. You must keep your drone within your visual line of sight or the visual line of sight of a visual observer physically next to you in direct communication with you, you have to see the drone to fly it. You can’t fly it eight miles away beyond line of sight, the faa rule. The reason for that rule is one of the foundations of air uh.
Safety in the national airspace system is what the faa calls see and avoid when you’re flying in a full-scale airplane. You see the other airplane you’re, ultimately responsible to avoid it to prevent a mid-air collision and the way the faa translates that to rc bottle. Pilots is when you’re on the ground, and you see your airplane, in other words, keep it in a visual line of sight and you see a piper cub or another full-scale aircraft you can see and avoid that aircraft. You can’t do that if the drone is outside of your line of sight number six of eleven rules do not fly at night unless your drone has lighting that allows you to know its location and orientation at all times, so we can fly at night. You just have to keep your drone or rc model lit and note the faa, because they’re so focused on drone operations.
You’Ll see the word drone a lot. That is the same thing for the faa with rc model, as the terms in 2021 are just synonymous. These days, number seven give way to do not interfere with banned aircraft. Pretty clear number eight never fly over any person or moving vehicle. That’S a safety issue, the faa realizes, if you’re flying over people or groups of people and something goes wrong, models can crash every now and then we don’t want anybody who is a spectator to get hurt.
Doing this number nine never interfere with emergency response activities such as disaster relief accident response law enforcement, firefighting, hurricane recovery efforts. This comes from drones, wanting to take pictures of a forest fire. We have all read the news reports that firefighting operations with aircraft dispersing uh firefighting materials have to be called off because there’s some drone in the area trying to get pictures. So this is just one of the 11 rules. Spelled out number 10 never fly under the inflows of drugs or alcohol.
They talk about over-the-count, counter medications. It could affect your drone, one of the good things about operating drones. So far for recreational purposes is we don’t need a license? Anybody else operate the national airspace system from student pilots on up with some exceptions for ultralight aircraft. You need a license and in many cases you need a medical for the rc models, drones we can sell.
We can self um certify our medical condition, but the reason that influence of drug is alcohols is in there. Let’S say you have your drone you’re at a family picnic in the park. You’Ve had a couple of beers and somebody goes: hey fly your drone to take pictures of us if the faa finds out about that. That is a potential violation of that rule and finally, the last rule – and this is an important one – the fa says – do not operate your drone in a careless and reckless manner. That is very common language throughout all faa regulations, kayla’s a reckless operation.
What it is, frankly, is a catch-all if the faa can’t find something specific that you’ve done wrong. They can charge you under careless and reckless operation and that will usually hold up if it’s challenged in court, depending on other circumstances of the violation. So that has been a rundown of 11 rules that recreational rc and drone pilots must follow for the faa. What i want to point out is the following: at the end of the 11 rules are an interesting thing and it’s two things that we we should be aware of, and this is why the faa website, i think, is very helpful changes coming in the future. So the fa says the law also requires notice of the law.
This is not the faa determining things the law from congress has determined two other things. First of all, drone operators, in other words, rc model, pilots and drone operators, must pass an online erical knowledge and safety test and carry proof of test passage. So, as we discussed earlier in the video, the involvement of the faa started in 2015 registration now we’re up to language from the faa that to fly on sunday afternoons with our model airplanes. We’Re gonna have to pass some sort of knowledge test. The reason for this is the faa wants to ensure safety in the national airspace system.
The assumption for the faa always is that pilots are properly trained once they’re trained. Then they can be held responsible for following various regulations. The problem or the dilemma face of the faa, because this is such a new regulatory territory – are recreational rc model, airplane pilots. We don’t have any training. So how can they reasonably tell us that we’re violating the regulation if we were never trained about those regulations?
This is the online eric knowledge and safety test that congress has mandated. We don’t know how that’s going to work. The faa is not quite sure how that’s going to work community-based organizations. The ama is involved with the faa on that my guess is, and it says here it’s going to be online. It’S going to be some sort of short, 20 question tests.
This is just my estimation of what will probably happen. It will be a guaranteed pass. In other words, it will be multiple choice and you’ll have a b c. One of those answers is right. If you click a wrong answer, it’ll say wrong: explain why, until eventually, you get the right answer to use it as a training exercise to certify you’ve been to the training we don’t have to take it now, it’s not required that’s coming in the future.
The second of two things that are coming in the future, the faa is going to issue guidance for how it will recognize community-based organizations the faa, reaching the recreational flyer, because we’re not members of any professional union or professional organizations. How do they kind of realize? Who we are and who we might respond to the community-based organizations? It could be a school. It could be something like the academy of model aeronautics.
The faa is going to have to define exactly what a community-based organization is, because these community based organizations are going to allow for a lot of freedom of operations, such as the exception for remote id at community-based locations, recognized by the faa. The final thing i want to discuss are the issue of uas unmanned aircraft, small systems, sighting report – and this is a large issue because there’s over a hundred a month of these sightings reported to the faa i mentioned this was the spreadsheet wound over earlier from the Faa website and the faa from their faa website talks about this, and it essentially says it’s a huge problem. It’S growing the agency. The faa wants to send out a clear message that operating drones around airports, helicopters and airports is dangerous and illegal unauthorized operators may be subject to stiff fires. Criminal charges, including possible jail time, so the faa to address this, is developing a campaign campaign under the law called know before you fly that educates the users about the laws and all that stuff.
But for now we need to be aware that there are a lot of sightings that are causing a lot of issues, i’m not going to read every single one. This is just a quarterly report but, for example, california, san diego on the um 3rd of april 2020. Preliminary info from faa up san diego aircraft advised near the departure end of runway 2-7. Departures were held approximately five minutes until the drone left the area. So somebody operating a drone near san diego airport, caused that entire airfield to shut down for five minutes till they could figure out.
What’S going on with the drone another one from los angeles, which is an extremely busy airport busy airspace. There was a pilot on an airbus 321 coming in from dallas fort worth reported a white quadcopter uas on the right side of the aircraft, while at eleven hundred feet on two mile final runway, two five left, no evasive action taken, los angeles airport police department notified. So remember these are an airbus crew. There’S two pilots they’re well trained. They saw a white quadcopter, so that is identifying information eleven hundred feet two mile final, that is the last time in the world when you’re landing an airliner that you wan na, be distracted with a drone off of one side, you’re in a very critical phase of Flight gear down flaps down configured, getting ready to land, no evasive, actual taking, but notice that they said the police department was notified reading through the reports of the sightings about 80 percent of these sightings involves notification of local police departments to do something about it.
So there is going to be further action from the fa on this. We need to be aware of what the airspace is stay away from airports and know the 11 rules just so, we can be proper and safe operators in the national airspace system. I’D like to take a very quick look at the faa website for these sightings, we’ll take a look at that and then we’ll sign off, and thank you very much for your time with this video and look forward to seeing you in the fl skies we’re back Again on the faa website and if we go into the search for uas sightings report, this describes all the us uas sightings by the faa, with quarterly reports that you can download onto the bottom. So click on one of those we’ll go ahead and download it, and this is the extent of the settings they are around. The country listed by date with specifics, whether it’s private aircraft, commercial aircraft – and you can see that in well.
Over 80 percent of the cases police are called to investigate the unmanned aerial vehicle activity, [, Music, ], so [, Music ], you