FAA appears to misrepresent the rules on model aircraft “drones”

FOIA Response Reveals FAA Routinely Misrepresents the Law Regarding Unmanned Aircraft – DIY Drones.

Read the whole article at the link.

Long ago, the FAA issued an “advisory circular” (AC 91-57), which is not a rule or regulation, regarding model aircraft.  Per the link, the FAA has incorrectly interpreted this advisory notice, which clearly states the notice is a voluntary guideline, as a regulation concerning model aircraft even though the FAA said in a Court filing that “compliance” with the advisory is not mandatory.

The 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act, includes wording that exempts model aircraft from FAA regulations but the FAA seems to be interpreting this law opposite to what the law says.

On a related topic, recent news reports say the FAA has seen an explosive growth in “near misses” with UAS craft. But this appears to be a big stretch.

The NY Times obtained a spreadsheet containing documentation on 194 incidents. I looked through the spreadsheet and see reports of “drones” flying at 25,000 feet, drones that carried radar transponders, drones flying at 60 knot airspeeds, and other reports of UAS craft at altitudse that are definitely not small model aircraft operations.

The report also includes reports of model aircraft flying at “50 feet” near stadiums (which the FAA prohibits on terrorism fears) and over national park service administered lands (an NPS rule) – these have nothing to do with “near miss” situations.

One report involved airport staff flying a “drone” at an airport, coordinating with the air traffic control tower on aviation radio, and operating under the direction of the airport manager – not an out of control “near miss”.

There are also situations in the report that are generally worrisome too.

However, the FAA has distorted the data – literally gruberized the story – in ways that destroy the FAA’s credibility and turn this report into government sponsored propaganda. Considering their misrepresentation of the reported incidents, can any of the spreadsheet be trusted?

The FAA certainly needs to get appropriate regulations in place but this report of alleged near miss activity was inept.

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