The powerful radio control aircraft lobby is squaring off against the FAA, Department of Defense and some members of Congress over the future of their hobby, and the government departments may be outgunned politically. At issue is the so-called Rule 336 that essentially exempts those flying model planes for “hobby and recreation” from the long list of flight restrictions and certification requirements that apply to drone operators. It was pressure on Congress from the RC groups that resulted in the exemption in the first place several years ago and they’re mobilizing to protect that initial victory.
“If Rule 336 is modified or removed, our hobby will be dealt a heavy blow—hobby shops will close, club memberships will drop, flying fields will disappear, and young pilots will be discouraged from the great fun of building and flying models,” RC supporters say in a We the People petition filed with the White House. The Academy of Model Aeronautics has led the battle so far and is continuing to lobby in Washington. The House has passed its version of the reauthorization, which maintains Rule 336, but the Senate is still formulating its bill. The current short term authorization for the FAA expires Sept. 30.