Avionics News May 2020 - 33

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control. The EAA is keen to protect model aircraft
he Federal Aviation Administration wants
hobbyists because they build their own aircraft as EAA
to be able to identify and locate every
members do for manned aviation. The skill sets spill
drone flying if it weighs more than about
over from one arena to the next, and many who become
a half-pound, and a newly proposed rule sets the stage
private pilots or pursue careers in aviation get their start
for this to happen in the years ahead.
in model aeronautics.
The agency wants to integrate drones into the national
Neil Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the
airspace system even though a lot of the small ones will
moon in 1969, said years later that model aircraft kindled
be flying below 400 feet where few manned aircraft fly
his interest in aviation. Armstrong first asked his mother
except near an airport. It has specified a requirement
to buy him a model aircraft when he was 3 years old,
for remote identification so the agency and other parties
and by the time he was 11, he was building all sorts of
can track the air vehicle's location and registration
model aircraft using glue and balsa wood, a passion he
information. The rule calls not only for the collection of
data such as identity, location and altitude of
the air vehicle and the location of its control
station on the ground but also the storage of
this data.
The FAA released its proposed rule in
December 2019 as one of its key initiatives
to integrate these new types of air vehicles
flying in the national airspace system for
either recreational or commercial purposes.
Remote ID is seen as a prerequisite for the
DJI's Mavic Mini
FAA to allow commercial drones to fly
drone, weighing 249
grams, does not need
beyond visual line of sight or over people on a
to be registered for
routine basis without waivers.
recreational flying.
The FAA has completed the comment
period for its remote identification notice of
shared with another youngster named John Glenn, later
proposed rulemaking, and the regulations proposed have
an astronaut who would be the first to orbit the earth in a
stirred up a controversy. It received more than 53,000
Mercury space capsule.
comments on the proposed rule. The agency said this is
As a kid, Armstrong would take parts of several
"well above normal," but it can't say whether this is the
model aircraft kits to come up with a custom design
most comments ever received on a rule. The comment
of his own. Later, as a college student, he built model
period closed March 2 with no extension to the deadline,
aircraft at Purdue University while pursuing a degree
though many associations including the Experimental
in aeronautics and also with a group of like-minded
Aircraft Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots
aviators in the Navy. "My model building and flying
Association and companies in the drone industry had
activities significantly contributed to my interest in
requested more time to respond.
aeronautics and was a primary force in directing my
There is considerable opposition to what the rule,
education toward aeronautical engineering," Armstrong
as proposed, will do to model aircraft enthusiasts who
wrote to a friend in later years. Another astronaut who
have been operating radio-controlled aircraft safely
was involved in model aviation is Robert "Hoot" Gibson,
in specified areas run by clubs for 80 years. New
and he now flies high-performance aircraft at the Reno
rules make it harder for clubs to get these controlled
Air Races.
flight areas approved and renewed. This is seen as a
Remote ID as defined for drones by the FAA is about
real problem by both the EAA and AOPA, but they do
more than just the identification of the air vehicle. The
not object to the concept of having a way to remotely
identify and locate drones in the sky. However, they do
not want to single out model aircraft clubs for tighter
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Avionics News May 2020

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