Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft


On June 17, 2014 the FAA Released a memo titled "Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft". In this memo the FAA states how they interpret the rules and regulations regarding model aircraft flights. For now, this is simply a 'notice of interpretation' and they are asking for feedback from the community. This means that now is our chance to make our voices heard. This particular memo makes specific mention for those of us who fly FPV. But the FAA surely won't stop there.

Take a look at a portion from the memo:

By definition, a model aircraft must be flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft. P.L. 112-95, section 336(c)(2).1 Based on the plain language of the statute, the FAA interprets this requirement to mean that: (1) the aircraft must be visible at all times to the operator; (2) that the operator must use his or her own natural vision (which includes vision corrected by standard eyeglasses or contact lenses) to observe the aircraft; and (3) people other than the operator may not be used in lieu of the operator for maintaining visual line of sight. Under the criteria above, visual line of sight would mean that the operator has an unobstructed view of the model aircraft. To ensure that the operator has the best view of the aircraft, the statutory requirement would preclude the use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and goggles designed to provide a “first-person view” from the model.

While this leaves a sliver of hope that we can still fly via a monitor (as long as the craft is still visible with the naked eye. It definitely rules out the use of googles. Now is the time to let the FAA know what you think of this interpretation.


You may send comments identified by docket number FAA-2014-0396 using any of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically.

Mail: Send Comments to Docket Operations, M-30; US Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Hand Delivery: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

Fax: (202) 493-2251

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  • Shawn Rowland
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