, Elkhorn

, Nebraska

, United States

Posted on
2020-02-15 20:32:40
“I am writing in response to the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking on remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).<span style="border:none windowtext 1.0pt;mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in; padding:0in"></span> On December 26, the FAA released a proposed rule for remote identification of UAS. I have read it. Background: I am a lawyer by training and a judge by profession. I have been a member of American Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) for over 40 years and have enjoyed the experience of participating in the hobby. My whole experience consists of participation in the hobby with the Hastings Skylarks of Hastings, Nebraska—a club registered with the AMA. Early on I competed in activities in AMA—sanctioned events throughout Nebraska and Kansas. In recent years, particularly since my retirement my active participation in the hobby has been reduced but the interest has not waned. I have observed a diverse group of people participate in the hobby—men and women of all ages (less than 10 years of age to ages greater than 80); races; ethnicities; professions; blue and white collar workers; and students—grade; high school; college. I was amazed by the feat on August 11, 2003 when a team let by a 1977 member of the Model Aviation Hall of Fame flew the first model aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean. It was a technological feat beyond any skill level and technical expertise I had. I just dreamed of the future while others acted on it. Presently, I use simulation to utilize and engage the cutting edge technology that exists in today’s hobby. Wow! It’s amazing to watch the youth (high school age and younger) and young adults engage the technology for recreational activities and commercial applications not dreamed of in 2003 let alone 1977. <span style="color:#333333;background: white">General Comment </span> The consequences for malevolent and willfully reckless use of an instrumentality must be prescribed and focused—not pre-emptivelyon the community but— on the bad actor. An analogy could be made, I suppose, to the motor vehicle. There are rules, regulations, and laws regarding use and when there is malevolent and willful reckless operation consequences are prescribed for the operator not the entire community of operators. The proposed restrictions: willnotinhibit those who choose to operate outsideanyboundaries; and, will never eliminate imagined or perceived evils/risk. No amount of regulation or penalty will stop insanity. There will always be the fear monger/conspiracy theorist who works to distort reality in support of an agenda directed at the destruction/destabilization of “community.” Currentlyone victimof such fear mongering/conspiracy theoriesis our community— the AMA. <span style="color:#333333;background: white">The wisdom of our community</span>— the AMA — should be the standard looked to for action rather than alarmists outliers who have no investment in our community. I am deeply concerned that some elements of the proposal could impose significant costs on the model aviation community and unnecessarily restrict existing, safe model aircraft operations. AMA members fly aircraft that require continual input and are only flown within line of sight. Advanced drones, on the other hand, which have advanced capabilities for sustained and controlled navigation beyond visual line of sight may need additional remote identification requirements. This distinction was also provided to the FAA by the Remote Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee, specifically Work Group Two, tasked to set a threshold of compliance. Model aviation is a natural precursor to careers in aviation, including commercial pilots (my younger son is engaged in this profession) and engineers and more – jobs which the U.S. desperately needs to fill. Model aviation supports a $1 billion hobby industry responsible for thousands of existing U.S. jobs. We simply cannot afford to further harm the model aviation hobby with requirementsthat are overlyburdensome. <span style="color:#333333;border:none windowtext 1.0pt;mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in; padding:0in">Comment on UAS Remote ID</span> First: I am glad the proposal includes an option to comply with remote ID by flying at an approved fixed site. <span style="color:#333333">HOWEVER</span>, the rule: Arbitrarily limits the number of approved sites and prohibits establishment of new sites; Appears to be designed to phase out these sites over time, rather than treat them as a viable long-term option for complying with remote ID. I encourage the FAA to view fixed flying sites as part of a viable long-term solution to remote ID and to amend the rule to allow for the establishment of new sites in the future. Second, because AMA events and competitions currently may not take place at fixed flying sites, the FAA must create a pathway for remote ID compliance. These events take place in defined locations for short periods of time, like an air show. For remote ID compliance purposes, they should be treated like fixed flying sites. Further, I encourage the FAA to create an expedited process for event organizers to apply for and receive waivers from remote ID requirements for these ad hoc events and competitions, many of which support local charities. Third, the rule must consider hobbyists who fly in rural areas with little or no internet connectivity. As I read the proposed rule, I could be required to have an internet connection even if flying at an approved fixed flying site in a rural part of the country.Unfortunately, some rural areas don’t have adequate cell service, which means I could not be able to fly under the limited remote ID option. Rural locations are frequently the safest places to fly because they are away from people, other aircraft and structures. The FAA needs toapprovea solution for these areas. Finally, the proposal to register each aircraft should be reconsidered. It will impose a cost and compliance burden on the model aviation community. Individual registrationmay make sensefor aircraftequippedfor beyond line of sight operations. It is an unnecessary requirement for aircraftnot so equippedwhich are flown within line of sight. We build and fly model airplanes because it is a passion; and many of us own dozens, if not hundreds, of aircraft of different shapes and sizes, some of which we fly infrequently. The time and cost involved in registering each model individually would be substantial and runs counter to the current registration framework for recreational operators. Aircraft that are built by hand do not have serial numbers, which makes individual registration more difficult. <span style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman";color:black;mso-themecolor:text1;mso-font-kerning:18.0pt'>Comment on UAS Remote ID: Registration</span> The proposed requirement to register all Recreational UAS (model) individually would impose significant costs on the recreational UAS (model) aviation community and place an undue burden on safe and responsible model aircraft hobbyists. <span style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman";color:#333333'></span> <span style='font-size:12.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman";color:#333333'>Furthermore</span>, if implemented as is, the requirementcould deter complianceand thereforereduce the effectivenessof remote ID. Individual UAS registration is a major issue for me and the recreational UAS (model) aviation community. I am informed that on average, members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) own nine aircraft each and some—hundreds. Since there are so many model aircraft, many are flown infrequently – perhaps only a few times in the lifetime of the aircraft. When we do fly, it is always within visual line of sight, making it easy to identify the pilot at all times. Individual registration of recreational UAS may not accomplish what the FAA is intending. Many operators of recreational UAS not only fly any one aircraft infrequently but also trade or sell aircraft often, so the requirement to register and deregister will become cumbersome. If the proposal to register UAS individually goes into effect as is, AMA’s 180,000 members would be forced to register about 1.62 million aircraft at a cost of $8.1 million, assuming the $5 per aircraft registration fee does not increase over time. This is clearly a substantial investment of time and resources for our community, which has already faced challenges in recent years due to increasing regulations. In conclusion, I urge you to remove the proposed requirement to register each UAS individually. The requirement should be removed for members of a community-based organization like AMA who already register with their organization. <span style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-themecolor:text1">Comment on UAS Remote ID: Education</span><span style="color:#333333;border:none windowtext 1.0pt;mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in;padding:0in”> There are no educational accommodations. The FAA’s proposal on Remote ID does not make any accommodations for education. In Section 350, Congress specifically calls for the FAA to create allowances for recreational UAS that are operated by an institution of higher education for educational purposes. In order to continue to instruct and train new generations, educational accommodations need to be made. Model aviation holds a strong position in our nation’s classrooms. Model aviation is an effective tool for inspiring young people to explore careers in STEM-related fields. Building and flying model airplanes have long been a gateway to aviation for legions of aviators and engineers. Building and flying model aircraft are “hands-on” experiences to motivate and inspire a future generation of problem solvers and inventors, opening doors to careers in aviation and engineering. In a time when our nation is experiencing a shortage of aviation professionals, we need to find ways to make flying model aircraft easy, not hinder the experience. In order to fulfill future aviation roles, it is imperative to introduce newcomers to the exciting and engaging hobby of model aviation. We can accomplish this by making aeromodelling easily accessible to everyone without unnecessary restrictions. The FAA’s registration requirement and proposed Remote ID technology will hinder the ability of educators to share these experiences with their students. The AMA currently has more than 50,000 members between the ages of 13 and 18 and more than 13,000 members under the age of 13. For these AMA Youth members and their families, the FAA’s registration requirement and Remote ID technology could be a deal-breaker for continued participation in the hobby. The high costs and time commitment associated with a registration effort on this scale is insurmountable for many. The price of aircraft is already a potential burden, and adding in costly Remote ID technology in the manufacturing process will only exacerbate this problem. Model aviation has been and should continue to be available to all children, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Fixed flying sites are not the only viable solution. Students learn and fly not only at school facilities such as gyms and school grounds outdoors but also at community parks and at home. Many of our kids don’t have cell phones and want to fly at locations that don’t have Wi-Fi or mobile phone/data cellular service. Your proposal would severely limit those options and require expensive and burdensome restrictions that would disallow the model aviation activities while having no significant impact on the overall safety of the National Airspace System. Although it is helpful that the proposal includes an option to comply with Remote ID by flying at an approved fixed site, it is concerning that the proposal limits the number of approved sites and prohibits the establishment of new sites. The rule appears designed to phase out these sites over time, rather than treat them as a viable long-term option for complying with Remote ID. Please consider viewing fixed flying sites as part of a viable long-term solution to Remote ID, and to amend the rule to allow for the establishment of new sites in the future. Remote ID makes sense for autonomous flight operations. In the case of fully autonomous UAS that are equipped to fly via GPS coordinates and waypoints with no continuous, positive input via a pilot, it makes sense to have Remote ID requirements. <span style="color:#333333">However</span>, a UAS that requires continuous, positive input from a pilot to maintain its flight within line-of-sight should be exempted from requiring Remote ID. The flight envelope needs to be expanded. Unfortunately, a 400-foot altitude limit is too small to accommodate all the model aviation activities students require. There needs to be an easy way to accommodate flights outside of the proposed 400-foot bubble or educational opportunities will suffer. Model aviation has been and continues to be a safe activity. Since 1936, AMA members have been safely flying model aircraft. Our safety record is overwhelmingly positive. We have safety standards in place that allow us to operate safely and without incidents in the National Airspace System. By operating within the safety guidelines the AMA provides for its members, the skies have been and continue to be safe for all aviation activities. <span style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-themecolor:text1">Comment on UAS Remote ID: Amateur-Built Aircraft</span>&lt;span style=&quot;color:#333333;border:none windowtext 1.0pt;mso-border-alt:none windowtext 0in;padding:0in"><span style="text-decoration:none"> </span></span> The proposed rule includes an exclusion for amateur-built aircraft. However, the definition of what constitutes an “amateur-built” is not adequate and the preamble does not effectively delineate the true categories of UASAB. If the FAA is proposing to apply the same policy that is used for manned aircraft, there will be significant difficulty in applying the rule on the recreational UAS (model) industry due to the popularity of recreational UAS that are nearly ready to fly aircraft and the intent of separating hobbyists who build, assemble, and fly from the off the shelf ready to fly products. Even this “Almost Ready to Fly” category requires skill, knowledge, and technical ability that falls under the intent of Amateur-Built as a definition. If this rule goes forward without edit, the effect will be difficulty and subjectiveness in the field with how the FAA exactly applies the policy. A better explanation and clear definitions should have been included in the main body of the NPRM as well as the preamble. A poorly worded, inaccurate definition moving forward will severely damage the entire hobby. The proposed rule requires amateur-built aircraft to display a serial number, an unnecessary requirement for an aircraft flown only fly at FAA-recognized identification areas and within visual line of sight. Furthermore, serial numbers would potentially destroy recreational UAS (model) which are detailed scale replicas of manned aircraft. Hobbyists spend hours poring over each detail of flying replicas to ensure accuracy. Adding a serial number to a flying scale/replica would ruin its competitiveness in international competition.<span style="color:#333333"><span style="text-decoration:none"> </span></span> <span style="color:#333333">In conclusion</span>, I strongly urge you to revise the definition of amateur-built model aircraft to clarify the intent of the NPRM. I also urge you to remove any requirement for an external serial number for recreational UAS or provide a waiver process to permit the operation of recreational UAS at FAA-recognized identification Area. By addressing these issues, the FAA will protect the many model aviation businesses that sell model aircraft parts. In addition, the FAA will protect opportunities to learn about STEM, as AMA regularly hosts competitions, events and programs for young people to build model airplanes. <span style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-themecolor:text1">Comment on UAS Remote ID: FPV</span> The current proposal would impose significant costs and place an undue burden on those who fly first-person view (FPV) flying, especially for freestyle and racing events. The proposed remote ID rule is a problem for the FPV community for two primary reasons. First, it essentially limits FPV flying to operating at FAA-identification sites only. This is especially troublesome for the many established FPV competitions and events which are not at these identification sites and often raise money for local charities. These established safe events will likely be canceled if the remote ID rule goes into effect as is. The rule arbitrarily limits the number of approved sites and prohibits the establishment of new sites. As such, the rule appears designed to phase out these sites over time, further restricting FPV flying. I urge you to allow FPV flying at more locations than FAA-identification sites only. Second, the limit on operating UAS “no more than 400 feet from the control station” is highly problematic for FPV flying, which is conducted at very low altitudes but farther horizontal distances from the operator. If implemented, this limit would drastically reduce the size and scope of FPV competitions and events which usually span a wider area. These events are established and safe and I see no reason for them to be severely limited. I urge you to consider a pathway for FPV flying events to receive remote ID compliance at the location of the event, so the 400-foot limit would not apply and FPV flying could continue to occur. Again, as currently written, the remote ID proposal is too rigid and overly burdensome for the FPV community. Please address these pressing issues so that our growing hobby can continue to flourish. <span style="font-size:12.0pt;color:black;mso-themecolor:text1">Comment on UAS Remote ID: Internet Connectivity</span> The proposed requirement for model aircraft to transmit information via an internet connection would unnecessarily restrict safe and responsible model aircraft hobbyists, especially in rural areas. To comply with a portion of the Remote ID NPRM, the proposed rule would require information to be transmitted via an internet connection. For individuals like myself, who have been flying model aircraft safely for decades in rural areas with little or no internet service – this rule would effect”