A lot of people in the drone and aviation don’t like the Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed remote ID rule, but one of the most outspoken groups against it is the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
So much, that the AMA this month launched a coalition to protect the hobby model aviation industry, and its first big project is fighting for a different remote ID rule.
“As written, the proposed remote ID rule would seriously disincentivize participation in the model aviation hobby,” according to a statement from the coalition.
The Federal Aviation Administration released its proposal for Remote ID — a sort of electronic license plate system for drones — at the end of 2019. And the FAA’s Remote ID proposal unleashed a firestorm of Internet comments, many of which were against the proposal (you can read a handful of the comments against it here).
While a bulk of the support for the coalition comes from the AMA, here’s the complete list of the companies involved, including aviation associations, drone-specific companies, hobby shops and manufacturers:
- The Academy of Model Aeronautics
- National Retail Hobby Store Association
- Hobby Manufacturers Association
- Civil Air Patrol
- ReadyMade RC
- Balsa USA
- Drone Zone
- Anderson RC
- Sullivan Products
- MexAir RC
- Family Hobby Center
- Bob Smith Industries
- Dave’s RC Electronics
- Aloft Hobbies
- Tampa Drones
- Big Lake Hobbies
- B&B Specialties
- Radio South
- Wind Catcher RC
- Bitgo Hobby
- Arizona Aircraft Replicas
- Tripe Tree Aerodrome
- Action Hobbies
- Brownie’s Pro & Sport Hobbies LLC
- Thomas Drones LLC
It’s interesting to see the coalition include both drone companies and more traditional model aircraft companies. The RC hobby industry has seen somewhat of a push and pull given the massive rise of drones. In some ways, the huge drone industry has helped bring more attention to RC hobby flying as a whole. Some of that attention is good: more membership, more money, more innovation. But some of that attention has been bad, primarily by bringing more regulation to the historically more-libertarian ideals of many big players in the aviation industry.
“Since 2015, the model aviation hobby has faced increasingly burdensome regulation which has made it difficult for the hobby to thrive,” said Chad Budreau, Executive Director of AMA. “The most recent example of this is remote ID. If the proposed rule is implemented as written, the model aircraft hobby will shrink, businesses will close, jobs will disappear, and young people will turn away from the hobby of flying model airplanes.”
The AMA and other members of the coalition say they fear that overregulation will discourage others from joining the aviation hobby, which they claim is a $1 billion hobby industry. And they say their hobby industry leads members to get into the commercial side, which means thousands of jobs.
“Model aviation is the natural precursor to careers in aviation – jobs which the U.S. desperately needs to fill,” a statement from the coalition said.
In a recent survey of hobby shops,77% of respondents said the FAA’s UAS regulations have hurt their sales either somewhat or drastically and almost 70% said that FAA regulations are the biggest threat to the model aircraft industry.
“Burdensome regulations put everything at risk – the entire model aviation hobby, thousands of jobs and businesses, as well as future pilots, engineers and aerospace experts,” Budreau said.
The coalition’s actions have including sending a letter to Congress expressing their concern over the regulation and new rules for recreational UAS operators.
The coalition also spelled out their proposals for fixing the Remote ID rule. Among their requests:
- The rule should provide community-based organizations like AMA more flexibility to establish and maintain fixed flying sites that satisfy remote ID compliance
- The rule should create a pathway for remote ID compliance at AMA events and competitions, which may not take place at fixed flying sites.
- The rule should account for situations where there is no internet connectivity, as many safe places to fly are in rural areas with little or no service.
- The rule should revise the definition of amateur-built UAS to effectively delineate the categories of aircraft.
- The rule should not require modelers to register every aircraft individually.
If you have ideas for the Remote ID rule, you can leave it in an official capacity for the FAA here.