The FAA says it is in process of developing a new advisory circular. Oddly, the FAA cites its authority to do this as the 2012 FAA reauthorization act, section 336 which actually says the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if –” basically, its a hobby model aircraft. Thus, they will issue a new set of voluntary guidelines.
SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law
relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal
Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle,
the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may
not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,
or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
(1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational
(2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based
set of safety guidelines and within the programming
of a nationwide community-based organization;
(3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless
otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection,
flight test, and operational safety program administered
by a community-based organization;
(4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere
with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
(5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator
of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air
traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at
the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft
operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an
airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure
with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control
tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
(b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall
be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue
enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger
the safety of the national airspace system.
(c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model
aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
(1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
(2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating
the aircraft; and
(3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.