Bear with me on this.
The driving force behind change today, isn't petitions, or good intentions, or even concerns for public safety. What really changes things, what's shaped our socity more than anythign else, is the power of lawsuits!
Even in the world of RC aviation, we're pressured by the fear of getting taken to court. Parks ban the operation of rc aircraft because someone might get hurt, and sue the city/county/state. Events require the participating pilots to be mebers of the AMA so they can be covered by insurance, that might protect them against lawsuits for accidental damage to vehicles or property. Even the government uses the threats of fines, and court costs as a way to influence the model flying public.
Fortunately in the case of the FAA vs Trappy, we won! Really, the Federal Judge told the FAA that they had no jurisiction over model aircraft. In short this meant that all of the RC pilots who wanted to profit from their hobby were free and clear until the FAA went through all of the hoops of public notification, congressional approval and long boring talks with the AMA coming to mutual ground on the topic, or so we thought.
Unfortunately the FAA found a "loophole". Instead of working with the AMA as they have for decades, or sticking the the intent of congress, and not lumping model aviation in with full scale aviation, they decided to change how they "interpret" the previous regulations. They wrote up a Letter of Interpretation regarind the special rules for model aviation. Read it here... http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-25/pdf/2014-14948.pdf
No, really, read it. Read it carefully. Much of the frustration I'm hearing from rc pilots is over the portion regarding FPV. That's a very small portion of it. They're mostly focusing on the aspect of the hobby where people are trying to turn something fun, into something they can be financially compensated for. According to the FAA, this covers everything from a realator using a quadcopter to take pictures of a house they are trying to sell, to a farmer using a model aircraft to check on the condition of his crops, to demonstrators at RC events, getting paid to fly for model manufacturers and distributers.
If businesses were to change their practices to become compliant to this "interpretation" you'd witness the death of that entire industry here in the United States. Strictly speaking, everytime an employee test flew an aircraft while on duty, he'd be in violation, he, and the company would be subject to legal action from the FAA.
Enjoy watching Quique fly at SEFF and other events? Well, next time the FAA just might be there with a cease and desist letter, and a ticket book.
Fear of legal action works. Or at least the FAA thinks so, since that's the tool they've decided to go with. They are not working with the RC aviation community to figure out the solution to the exponentially growing hobby of FPV flying. Or the implimentation of radio equipment that allows a person to fly a model aicraft miles from where they're standing. Or the improvements in technology that allows a completely novice pilot to direct a quadcopter hundreds of feet into the air, thousands of feet from where they launched from, and with the flip of a switch have it safely bring itself back and land at the original launch point, all without the pilot having any training or skill.
Since the FAA thinks it will work against us, I say we use it against them. Sue the FAA.
Dozens if not hundred (or more) businesses in the USA will be affected, even with the most liberal interpretation of the FAA's interpretation of the regulations. GETFPV.com, ReadyMadeRC.com, and many others have built their businesses around the growth of this aspect of the hobby. They've invested heavily in this technology, and a banning of flying by FPV goggles would be a devastating blow. They could sue indivdually, or get together and and present a combined force that would be impossible to ignore.
Next up, is the countless individuals and small groups is the folks who just wanted to strap a camera to a slowstick and take pictures for real estate, weddings, etc., but didn't because they were waiting for the FAA to do as they promised. Almost a decade ago people got together, and asked the FAA to come up with regulations that would allow people to fly model aircraft commercially. How many businesses could have been created, how much money did these people lose, because the FAA couldn't do their job, and make the airspace available to the US citizens that wanted to share it responsibly?
Check out the dates for these threads.
There Cannot Be Double Standards
And we'll have fun fun fun till the FAA takes my UAV away!!!
Industry Voice for RC Aerial Photography
RCAPA attended the RTCA Special Committee 203 meeting held at RTCA Headquarters, Wash
The FAA Has Spoken!!!
F Words.... the FAA, the FCC & For-Profit RC/AP
Here's one where they are talking about the promised rule making for "UAV's" the FAA promised. "Bear with us, we're working for you." (Post 52)
Small UAVs and the FAA
As you can see above, this has been an ongoing issue for at least a decade. How many people patiently waited while the FAA continued to tell them that they were working on allowing them to pursue the American dream by allowing them to legally fly their little rc aircraft for commercial puporses?
I think there's a class action lawsuit here.
What about these guys?
This is an organization that uses RC aircraft to search for missing people. But since the organization uses the aircraft for something other than purely recreation, they've been targeted by the FAA.
Oh, wait... They've fired back!
Show these guys some support. If they can win this, it will set precedent. Other cases will follow, and with each win, we can maybe earn back some of our rights.
I'd like to think that signing a petition or making my voice heard on the FAA comments page will make a difference, and maybe it will. We need to be vocal, even if the FAA doesn't listen to us, the politicians that vote on their funding will be listening. If a mere 2500 people leave a comment on the FAA's page about their re-interpretation of our hobby, then they'll figure we don't care. Maybe they're right.
Comment on the FAA page. There's no "right" comment. Go through their "intereprtation", and find things that you don't like, and tell them that. That they shouldn't outright ban goggles, that they need to open the airways to people who want to fly their rc aircraft for financial compensation, that event demonstration pilots shouldn't be targeted, that changes to the agreed upon regulations should be done properly, and not merely by "reinterpreting" how they'll regulate the public.
The FAA's comment page regarding the interpretaion of the special rule for model aircraft.
Sign the petition. It might not change much, but remaining silent certainly won't.