Dave Mathewson, executive director of the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which is the world’s largest community-based organization whose members fly model aircraft for recreational and educational purposes, has made the following statement on the recommendations made by the Federal Aviation Administration’s aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) on micro unmanned aircraft systems (UAS):
“While AMA is thankful for the opportunity to participate in the ARC process, we are concerned that allowing some unmanned aircraft to operate over and within close proximity to people will heighten the anxiety of a society that is already hypersensitive to the introduction of ‘drones’ into our communities.
“AMA understands that the recommendations and subsequent regulations, if proposed and enacted, only pertain to non-recreational operators and primarily those that operate unmanned aircraft for business purposes. AMA has a longstanding safety guideline that has been developed over the academy’s 80 years of experience in managing the recreational unmanned aircraft (model aircraft) community that precludes flight over unprotected persons.
“AMA’s safety code requires our members to stay at least 25 feet away from people and never intentionally fly above people or moving vehicles. AMA believes this is a sound and proven safety guideline and, in light of the ARC’s recommendation, does not foresee changing its policy for the recreational user.
“Regardless, we look forward to working with the ARC members and the broader UAS community to ensure the safe and responsible use of model aircraft, consumer drones, and commercial UAS. To ensure that everyone flying model aircraft and consumer drones have access to basic safety guidelines, in 2014 AMA helped launch the “Know Before You Fly” campaign with our industry partners.
“Additionally, AMA teamed up with retailer Best Buy in 2015 to display safety information on store shelves and on store receipts of drone purchases. AMA’s decades of experience demonstrates that an education-focused and community-based approach is the best way to manage recreational flyers.”