New AMA policy documents for autopilot and FPV flight.

Nothing unexpected in this latest offering from the AMA blog, VLOS is still not defined precisely, weight limit of 15lbs and speed capped at 70mph. To the outsider model jets that are larger and faster would seem to represent a bigger threat than most autonomous and FPV setups.

Not permitting waypoint flight will be a show stopper for many American UA enthusiasts who are now caught between a rock and a hard place should they have a mishap outside of an AMA field.

Utilizing Failsafe, Stabilization and Autopilot Systems AMA Document # 560

1. DEFINITIONS:

a) FAILSAFE SYSTEMS are designed to minimize or prevent damage and safely terminate the flight when a radio controlled model aircraft loses radio signal. Modern radio systems can be programmed to position servos to a desired control setting in the event of radio signal failure.

b) ATTITUDE FLIGHT STABILIZATION SYSTEMS are designed to maintain intended modelaircraft flight attitudes. The pilot can program and activate a system to stabilize yaw, pitch, or roll or any one attitude or combination of attitudes. Systems are often based on inertial motion sensors utilizing 3-axis gyros and 3-axis accelerometers for attitude stabilization.

c) AUTOPILOT FLIGHT SYSTEMS often incorporate the programmable flight stabilization described above with an altitude sensor and a GPS receiver for accurate positioning and to navigate/control a radio controlled model aircraft’s flight path. Advanced systems offer software for entering navigable waypoints. The flight data waypoints may be saved to autopilot’s/GPS memory for programed flight.

2. GENERAL:

a) All model aircraft flights utilizing stabilization and autopilot control systems must be conducted in accordance with AMA’s current National Model Aircraft Safety Code and any additional rules specific to a flying site/location.

3. OPERATIONS – REQUIREMENTS – LIMITATIONS:

a) AMA members flying radio controlled model aircraft equipped with flight stabilization and autopilot systems must maintain VLOS with the aircraft at all times including programmed waypoint flight.

b) AMA pilots must be able to instantaneously deactivate programmed flight stabilization and autopilot systems at any time during flight and resume manual control of the model aircraft.

c) Prior to initial programmed autopilot flight and after any changes or repairs are made to the stabilization or autopilot systems, AMA pilots must demonstrate manually controlled flight of their model aircraft successfully.

d) Model aircraft exceeding 15lbs and/or 70mph may only use an autopilot for a programmed “return to launch” (RTL) flight and not for programmed waypoint flying of a predetermined course.

STABILIZATION & AUTOPILOT SYSTEMS MAY BE USED FOR/TO:

• Stabilization/automatically stabilize aircraft to level flight when control sticks are centered.

• Recovery/activate TRX switch to recover an out of control aircraft to level flight.

• Heading/activate TRX switch to hold a model aircraft’s heading for precision flight path.

• Altitude/activate TRX switch to maintain fixed aircraft altitude while allowing directional control.

• Return GPS/activate TRX switch to return aircraft via GPS to launch point.

• Return FSS/failsafe activated from radio signal loss to return aircraft via GPS to launch point.

• Fixed circle/activate TRX switch to circle aircraft at point of activation at fixed altitude.

• Waypoint/activate TRX switch to initiate an autopilot programed aircraft flight path via waypoints.

• Fencing/autopilot programed to display site unique boundaries on the video monitor/goggles

4. RANGE – ALTITUDE – WEIGHT – SPEED:

a) One of the requirements in Federal Law (Public Law 112-95 Sec 336 (c) (2) February 14, 2012) for model aircraft to be excluded from FAA regulations is that model aircraft be flown within VLOS of the operator.

b) Model aircraft must be flown at or below 400 feet AGL when within 3 miles of an airport as stated in the AMA Safety Code.

c) Model aircraft utilizing an autopilot for waypoint flying are limited to a maximum weight (including fuel, batteries, and onboard autopilot systems) of 15lbs and a speed of 70mph.

These lower weight and speed limits are not required for model aircraft using failsafe and/or stabilization systems.

5. RECOMMENDATIONS & INFORMATION:

a) If your radio system lacks failsafe capability, consider using programmable digital servos or auxiliary failsafe modules. In the event of a radio signal failure these components will activate desired safe servo settings or an autopilot for return to base/launch (RTL).

b) When using an autopilot system the “return to launch” (RTL) feature should be
programmed to return the aircraft to a safe location and safely terminate the flight should manual control of the aircraft be lost. When using RTL, pay particular attention to the manufacturer’s throttle recommendations to prevent stalling. The use of stabilization systems is recommended when flying FPV to improve flight stability and video quality.

d) Pilots usually choose to incorporate stabilization and autopilot systems for model aircraft  flying to enhance flight performance, correct bad tendencies of the model aircraft, maintain stability in windy weather, establish precision heading holds for takeoffs/landings, flight training for novice pilots, create a steady flight platform for cameras, and generally just to make an airplane easier and safer to fly.

e) When purchasing stabilization and autopilot systems, always try to select quality equipment from reputable dealers, ensure for compatibility with other onboard systems, and install components according to manufacturers’ instructions.

6. PRIVACY PROTECTION SAFEGUARDS:

a) The use of imaging technology on radio control model aircraft with the capability of obtaining high-resolution photographs and/or video, or using any types of sensors, for the collection, retention, or dissemination of aerial surveillance data/information on individuals, homes, businesses, or property, is strictly prohibited by the AMA unless written expressed permission is obtained from the individuals, property owners, or managers.

The FPV one

Academy of Model Aeronautics AMA Document # 550

“AMA Advanced Flight Systems Committee”

Radio Controlled Model Aircraft Operation

Utilizing “First Person View” Systems

1. DEFINITIONS:

a) FIRST PERSON VIEW (FPV) refers to the operation of a radio controlled (R/C) model aircraft using an onboard camera’s cockpit view to orient and control the aircraft.

b) FPV AIRCRAFT is an RC model aircraft equipped with a video transmitter to send real-time video images from an onboard camera to a ground based receiver for display on a pilot’s video monitor/goggles. (FPV model aircraft types include: Fixed Wing, Rotary Wing, and Multi-Rotor Platform)

c) VISUAL LINE OF SIGHT (VLOS) is the distance at which the pilot is able to maintain visual contact with the aircraft and determine its orientation without enhancements other than corrective lenses

d) FPV SPOTTER is an experienced AMA RC pilot who has been briefed by the FPV pilot on  the tasks, responsibilities and procedures involved in being a spotter; is capable and mature enough to perform the duties and is able to assume conventional VLOS control of the aircraft.

e) FPV NOVICE PILOT is an AMA member learning to fly FPV utilizing a buddy-box system with an experienced AMA RC pilot operating the master transmitter and serving as the FPV spotter.

f) AMA FPV PILOT is an AMA member who is capable of maintaining control of stability and orientation of FPV model aircraft when flown FPV without losing control or having a collision.

2. GENERAL:

a) FPV flying of radio control model aircraft by AMA members is allowed only for  non commercial purposes as a hobby/recreational and/or competition activity.

b) All FPV flights must be conducted in accordance with AMA’s current National Model

Aircraft Safety Code and any additional rules specific to the flying site/location.

3. OPERATIONS – REQUIREMENTS – LIMITATIONS:

a) AMA FPV novice pilots must use a buddy-box system with an FPV spotter while  learning to fly FPV.

b) All FPV flights require an AMA FPV pilot to have an AMA FPV spotter next to him/her maintaining VLOS with the FPV aircraft throughout its flight.

c) The FPV pilot must brief the FPV spotter on the FPV spotter’s duties, communications and hand-over control procedures before FPV flight.

d) The AMA FPV spotter must communicate with the FPV pilot to ensure the FPV  aircraft remains within VLOS, warning the FPV pilot of approaching aircraft, and when avoidance techniques are necessary. e) The FPV spotter may at any time during an FPV flight acquire the transmitter from  the FPV pilot and assume VLOS control of the aircraft.

f) If the FPV pilot experiences a problem due to a loss of video link, orientation, or is  unable to safely fly, he/she must abandon FPV mode and fly VLOS or pass the RC transmitter to the FPV spotter to assume VLOS control of the aircraft.

g) Before initial FPV flight and after any flight system changes or repairs, FPV model aircraft must be test flown by conventional VLOS to determine that flight systems are working properly.

h) FPV model aircraft must use frequencies approved by the FCC for both the RC system and the wireless video system. Pilots must meet applicable FCC licensing requirements if they choose to operate the RC flight control system or the wireless video system on Amateur Band frequencies

4. RANGE – ALTITUDE – WEIGHT – SPEED:

a) One of the requirements in Federal Law (Public Law 112-95 Sec 336 (c) (2) February 14, 2012) for model aircraft to be excluded from FAA regulations is that model aircraft be flown within VLOS of the operator.

b) Model aircraft flown using FPV must remain at or below 400 feet AGL when within 3 miles of an airport as specified in the AMA Safety Code.

c) Model aircraft flown FPV are limited to a weight (including fuel, batteries, and onboard FPV equipment) of 15lbs. and a speed of 70mph.

5. RECOMMENDATIONS & INFORMATION:

a) AMA FPV novice pilots should consider using a cockpit view flight simulator to
become accustomed to FPV flight.

b) AMA FPV pilots should consider using a programmable autopilot (AMA Document  #560) with a failsafe “return to launch point” feature that will maintain control of the aircraft in the event of signal loss.

c) An onboard camera equipped with a pan and tilt mount that is positioned by “head  tracking” goggles, will improve the FPV pilot’s situational awareness of the airspace surrounding the FPV aircraft during flight, but does not replace the requirement for an AMA FPV spotter.

d) When purchasing FPV operational systems, always try to select quality equipment,  verify its compatibility, install components for interference rejection, and determine  that signal range is adequate for maximum VLOS range.

6. PRIVACY PROTECTION SAFEGUARDS:

a) The use of imaging technology on radio control model aircraft with the capability of obtaining high-resolution photographs and/or video, or using any types of sensors, for the  collection, retention, or dissemination of aerial surveillance data/information on individuals,  homes, businesses or property, is strictly prohibited by the AMA unless expressed written  permission is obtained from the individuals, property owners or managers.

http://amablog.modelaircraft.org/blog/2012/11/01/ama-revising-fpv-policy/