[headline: FAA ruling in final stage before release]
[Pull quote: “We should all be prepared to do this again.”]
It has been quiet for the last several months regarding the sUAS rule and the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) the FAA has been working on since 2008. The FAA originally planned to issue the NPRM in early 2011. However that date has been pushed back a number of times.
It looks as though something may soon be released. In late October, the proposed rule was sent from the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). This is the final step before the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register as an NPRM. After it has been published, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the provisions within the rule.
The OMB’s job is to review the proposed rule, after which it can release it for publication or send it back to the agency that drafted the rule with suggestions for modification or with concerns. The OMB has 90 days to conduct its review. This means that we may see something no later than the end of January, although it could be sooner.
Rules governing the regulatory process prohibit government agencies from sharing work product during development with entities outside of the agency. Because of this, we don’t know specifically what the proposed rule will say, but we have a number of concerns about what we believe the rule may contain that could potentially be problematic for model aviation.
After the NPRM is published and we at AMA have had a chance to review it, we will report to our membership. It’s likely that we will again reach out to members and ask for support in responding to the NPRM during the comment period when everyone will have the opportunity to share their thoughts.
In addition to responding directly to the agency with comments, we will likely conduct a congressional awareness effort, similar to the outreach done in 2012. This previous effort resulted in Section 336, the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, being included in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
This amendment was largely the result of our members reaching out to elected congressional representatives and sharing their thoughts in a respectful, articulate, and substantive way. We should all be prepared to do this again.
When the NPRM is published, we will notify our members through the AMA website, via email, in AMA Today, and in Model Aviation. We’re asking for our members to look for for this information and to be prepared to act.
As I write this, we are approaching the end of the year. I’m pleased to report that AMA’s membership has grown for the third consecutive year. Overall, 2014 paid membership is up slightly more than 2.5%, while those joining AMA for the first time are up 11.8%. Additionally, for the first time in nearly two decades, the average age of our members is trending down. This is good news for our organization as we look to the future.
Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) have had an impact on a number of clubs, especially during the recent political campaign season. A representative from the FAA will attend the AMA Expo in Ontario, California, on Saturday, January 10, 2015. He will conduct an informational seminar to explain the TFR process, when and why TFRs are put in place, and listen to concerns our members may have.
Although we only see the result of being unable to fly for a few hours or a day, the story behind the TFR process is interesting. If you attend the AMA Expo, I’d encourage you to sit in on this presentation. The presentation will also be videotaped and placed on the AMA website.
I’d like to end this column by thanking each of you for being AMA members, for supporting your organization, and for the comments you’ve shared with me during the year. It’s evident that the majority of AMA members appreciate efforts put forth on your behalf.
Much work in the last few years has focused on ensuring that model aviation enthusiasts will be able to continue to enjoy aeromodeling in the future much as we do today and have done in the past. The work has been challenging, but we believe that what we’re working to achieve is worth the effort.[dingbat]