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FAA sez CBO membership NOT required

Old 07-23-2016, 03:21 PM
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franklin_m
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Default FAA sez CBO membership NOT required

Bottom Line: FAA UAS Integration Office says you do not need to be a member of a CBO to fly as a "model aircraft" under the law.

Some time ago, I asked one CBO if they felt you had to be a member to comply with the part of PL112-95 Section 336 that says to fly as a model aircraft, "the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization. [emphasis added]"

I began to get suspicious when the government affairs rep wouldn't answer a direct yes or no question, but always responded with an answer to a slightly different question.

So I decided to just go for it and ask the FAA directly. I've posted my question and their response in the attachment - highlighted are the key parts. I even left in the embarrassing use of the word "therefore" in two consecutive sentences! Only my personal information was redacted.

"The FAA does not interpret PL 112-95 Section 336 (a) (2) as requiring membership in a CBO ... You must only follow the guidelines of a CBO."

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Old 07-23-2016, 04:36 PM
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pizzano
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Thanks Franklin for that clarification........

A group of us out here in the Riverside, San Bernardino County (SoCal)arena, had discovered that same issue a few years back (before all of the FAA, UAS hype became reality) when we were looking into starting a "club" without requiring the "facility users" to be AMA members.

I and a buddy owned an old citrus packing facility on a 3.5ac lot out in the middle of nowhere (agriculture/commercially zoned). One of the small local RC clubs we frequented was in ownership transition and was considering a relocation due to a municipal water project eminent domain issue.

Since the property we owned was never going to function as a business (for us it was investment property), had running water and electricity, a decent size paved parking/loading area (200'x 90') with no building or tree/power line obstructions and we had been flying our heli's there for over a year, we considered it a possible club site.

The old club owners took an interest and researched the liability aspects. However, they had been an "authorized" AMA facility in the past and were reluctant to partake in a "not for profit" AMA free facility and decided to sell-out to another club member and reduce the old site's boundaries to accommodate the waterline facility and stay put.

What we had learned from our research was interesting and the "liability" issue was not the determining factor...:

1) The local (City) govt. had no issues allowing the facility to operate as an RC field (capacity limit requirements).
2) The property had been insured (by us) much like most small business (a more advanced homeowners policy).
3) The only advantage, we could find, to being AMA "authorized" was in being able to offer "sanctioned" events.
4) We could establish and enforce RC guidelines and self police without AMA certified stewards, it's private prop.
5) Safety facilities and access to sanitary facilities would meet City code.
6) Emergency response would be no different than what a home owner would have.
7) We could charge a "usage" fee for maintenance/utilities without also requiring users to be AMA members.
8) It could have been marketed, run and secured like any other "not for profit" small business.
7) We had local interest application, even the School District was on board.

The only reason the site did not come to fruition was due to the older owners desire to stay put and have the ability to run an "annual" AMA sanctioned fun-fly.......we ultimately sold the property to a developer, now stands 10 tract homes.

Last edited by pizzano; 07-23-2016 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by franklin_m View Post
Bottom Line: FAA UAS Integration Office says you do not need to be a member of a CBO to fly as a "model aircraft" under the law....
Thanks for obtaining that clarification. I have always suspected it was so but the language, especially "and within the programming of", made it unclear. It seems obvious to me that this language must have come from the AMA and was intentionally included to give the impression that membership was required.
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Old 07-23-2016, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Turner View Post
Thanks for obtaining that clarification. I have always suspected it was so but the language, especially "and within the programming of", made it unclear. It seems obvious to me that this language must have come from the AMA and was intentionally included to give the impression that membership was required.
p

I concur...AMA was doing all they could to try and use the law to boost membership. Why? Well, I looked at IRS990s from 2007 to 2013 (last available) and it showed a 20%+ decrease in revenue of that period (in constant 2013 dollars). Couple that with an ageing membership demographic, and they needed tool to force new folks to join.

Fortunately, the FAA is the one interpreting the law, and they're not going to be put in a position of forcing folks to join a private dues collecting organization.

I also think that AMA will continue to try and get language to make it more and more difficult to fly anything outside of 107 w/o being a member. We've got to fight that effort.
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:52 AM
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A good recourse to slowing down the AMA campaign........stop joining and find alternatives, like we proposed.........where is written or stated and enforced in any hobby aerial RC (outside of AMA documentation and sponsored facilities), that the hobbyist must join a sanctioned AMA recognized CBO in order to enjoy the hobby, legally........?.........no such requirement today exists!........just proven by the OP..!

If the general RC community was provided alternatives, "build it, they will come"...........!

Over half of the RC guys I used to fly with (all current or previous experienced AMA guys) and interacted with, had no problem with volunteering as mentors, stewards and gatekeepers at a "not for profit" facility. As long as they got ample air time of their own.

If one has been a casual member and frequented the larger AMA sanctioned fields, what do they offer (outside of pricey club dues, maintained facilities, occasional vendor rep participation, long flight line waiting, crowded parking, over jealous AMA "experts" and an occasional AMA sanctioned event).........to what end..?

Facility standards, flying guidelines, rules, safety, flight training and all of the other "regulations" applicable to a safe and cooperative environment do not need to be re-invented....thanks to AMA. So why require the "users" to also pay AMA fees in order to use a facility that provides all ofthe basic necessities in order to enjoy the hobby in a controlled environment....(minus the AMA magazine)......?

One would not even have to call it a "club".......just a facility that caters to the RC enthusiast, with conditions of use and a possible fee to adhere to.

Call me really old fashion, but before there was AMA sanctioned facilities, the same above principal was exercised long before "sponsorship and profit" became the incentive.....!
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Old 07-26-2016, 05:57 PM
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AMA has a financial incentive to make people believe they have to be members to fully enjoy privileges in the public's airspace. Thankfully the FAA disproved what AMA is saying.

I don't mind AMA trying to get more members. What I mind is them trying to use the law (falsely) to do it. I don't want some young E3 with a family to think he has to offer $75 a year at the alter of the AMA to fly legally. I'd rather he spend that money on actual flying.
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Old 07-26-2016, 06:15 PM
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I'd hate to see this devolve into another AMA bashing thread. I think the AMA has done a tremendous amount of good over the years which all RC hobbyists should be thankful for. In years past they played a much stronger role in advocating for the hobby and not just for their members. I hope they will get back to that.
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Old 07-26-2016, 07:26 PM
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As an outsider and an Ex SMAE rep in UK ... I find it funny that here AMA is being bashed for 'maybe' twisting language to its favour. Note : maybe.

If the AMA was not there over the years and particularly with recent troubles - what would be FAA guidelines / rules now ? Would people say that AMA did nothing but try to collect subs ?

We had similar arguments over SMAE - which then created the BMFA as a subsidiary - when radio frequencies were going through changes. Trade Shows required BMFA licence grades to fly ... and there was talk about 'convincing clubs to fly only to BMFA Licence guidelines' etc.
All in the guise of Safety ... the fact that countless Clubs around UK and I would expect similar in USA - countless Clubs who flew safely, held shows and displays without BMFA stewarding / rules etc. I in fact was not only involved in but helped organise various.

SMAE / BMFA - I was proud to be part of. I reckon many in USA are proud of being in AMA. They do good generally and put forward a united front for negotiations. But of course there are times when they overstep the mark and can create problems for non affiliated. Especially when those officials who are clueless to the hobby get involved and then can be bamboozled into requiring affiliated clubs etc.

Don't take me badly on this - just shooting the breeze.

Nigel
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by solentlife View Post
As an outsider and an Ex SMAE rep in UK ... I find it funny that here AMA is being bashed for 'maybe' twisting language to its favour. Note : maybe.
Nigel,

I don't think it's twisting at all. The AMA made this very plain declarative statement: "We've made it clear, that to operate within our safety program, you must join the AMA? [emphasis added]" It starts at about the 35 second mark in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaONsheXj1g

Thankfully, the FAA UAS Integration Office made it just as clear that the AMA's statement is false, saying that "The FAA does not interpret PL 112-95 Section 336 (a) (2) as requiring membership in a CBO ... You must only follow the guidelines of a CBO. [emphasis added]"

I don't have an issue with AMA increasing its membership. Where I take issue is them falsely trying to use the law to do it.
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Old 07-26-2016, 08:50 PM
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Thank you for that.
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