By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 19, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- After the holiday season, many people received recreational unmanned aircraft systems as gifts, and although these devices are seen as toys to many, the Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration sees them as potential hazards if not operated responsibly.
According to a regulation that went into effect last year, owners of small UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including payloads such as on-board cameras, are required to register their devices with the FAA as a means of safety, according to the FAA's website, www.faa.gov/uas/.
"Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are Aviators and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press release last year. "Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I'm excited to welcome these new Aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation."
Under the rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior must be registered, according to the release, and all owners must register their device before their first flight outdoors.
People can register their devices at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.
In addition to the registration requirements, the FAA issued new small UAS rules (Part 107), including all pilot and operating rules, which went into effect Aug. 29 of last year. These rules include operational limitations, remote pilot-in-command certification and responsibilities, aircraft requirements and model aircrafts.
A full list of the rules as they pertain to each segment can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/media/Part_107_Summary.pdf.
Registrants must provide their name, home address and email address, and upon completion will be provided with a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include an identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. Owners only have to register once and can use the same ID number for all of the UAS devices, and each registration is valid for three years.
In addition to having their aircraft registered, Fort Rucker hobbyist UAS Aviators must also go through additional processes in order to fly their model aircraft on the installation or any of the outlying stagefields.
Anyone wishing to fly their model aircraft or other UAS on Fort Rucker must be a member of a Fort Rucker-approved RC model aircraft flying club that has primary responsibility for RC operations at the subject stagefield or locations, according to U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Regulation 95-2.
The RC model aircraft flying clubs responsible for the various stagefields are the Wiregrass Radio Control Club for Hunt Stagefield and Brown Stagefield as a backup site; and the Southern Radio Control Flyers Club for Toth Stagefield.
Also, membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the national organization for the operation of RC model aircraft, is required by both RC clubs, as well as the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
According to the regulation, no RC model aircraft operations are allowed when the stagefield towers are in operation or while any full-scale aircraft are present, whether temporarily or permanently parked.
For more information, call 255-9331.
As a means of safety, people should always fly below 400 feet and always fly within visual line of sight, according to the FAA. Never fly over groups of people or over stadiums and sports events, and people should also never fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities.
When operating their UAS, people should also remember to stay clear of emergency response efforts, such as fires or accidents, and never fly their UAS devices near other aircraft. Those piloting these devices should familiarize themselves with FAA airspace requirements, which can be found at www.faa.gov/go/uastfr.