Today, a group of leading companies in the first-person-view (“FPV”) industry are proud to announce the formation of the FPV Trade Association (“FPVTA”). For over a decade, first-person-view control of model aircraft has been an exciting, rewarding, and safe aspect of model aircraft recreation, bringing the experience of aerial-view flight control to hobby clubs and back yards. FPV is now the largest growth area of the entire model aviation hobby.
The FPVTA is a unified and organized group of companies whose goal is to protect this important aspect of model aviation, an effort compelled by the recent FAA Notice of Interpretation of Public Law 112-95 (Section 336) that threatens to restrict or even prohibit FPV operation of model aircraft. Tim Nilson of FPVTA member company GetFPV said, “We believe that the FAA is grossly misinterpreting the 2012 statute, which specifically protects model aviation from new FAA regulations. The agency uses a line in the statute concerning model aircraft operational distance to suggest that a hobbyist must always be looking at a model from the ground up. This misinterpretation endangers not only a wonderful hobby but the companies and jobs that service the hobby, and could also prohibit other aspects of recreational model aviation that will emerge in the future, no matter how safe they actually are.”
Bob Brown, President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics said, “FPV is an aspect of the model aviation hobby that has been around for a decade and is increasingly popular among our members. The AMA is committed to the safe operation of FPV as a part of our great hobby and we look forward to working with the FPVTA as an affiliate to ensure that FPV operations can continue to be enjoyed in the United States, free of unnecessary regulation.”
FPVTA member companies include retailers, technology, media, and service companies that support the FPV hobby and the hobbyists who enjoy it. These companies and associated jobs will be placed at risk by the FAA’s Interpretation were it to be enforced as a permanent and binding regulation in the months to come.
The FPVTA is represented by attorney Brendan Schulman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, who successfully won dismissal of the first attempted regulatory penalty sought against a model aircraft operator, and who also represents Texas EquuSearch in its dispute over the use of model aircraft for voluntary search and rescue purposes. Mr. Schulman says, “FPV is expressly permitted by the Civil Aviation Authority in the United Kingdom up to 1,000 feet in altitude, in recognition that it is a safe form of model aviation. There is no reason why regulations in the United States, the birthplace of model aviation, should be more restrictive.”
The FPVTA hopes it can work cooperatively with the FAA to preserve this important aspect of the hobby, but will explore all legal avenues to challenge the agency’s attempt to rewrite the spirit and text of the 2012 statute.
FPV is a form of model aviation where hobbyists fly their RC model aircraft with the aid of small cameras and video glasses or screens on the ground. The camera image is sent to the pilot on the ground in real-time and provides an immersive, live pilot’s-perspective experience. FPV systems typically use light, small, battery-powered model airplanes or helicopters weighing as little as two pounds.
About the FPVTA
The FPVTA was founded in July 2014 and includes a variety of FPV focused companies in retail, product engineering, media, and services. FPVTA Member companies include:
o Hobby Wireless (Retail)
o ImmersionRC (Equipment)
o HobbyKing (Retail)
o GetFPV (Retail)
o VideoAerialSystems (Equipment)
o Total3DSolutions (Distribution)
o Stone Blue Airlines (Retail/Services/Media)
o Lumenier (Equipment)
o FPVLab (Media)
o Academy of Model Aeronautics (Community Association)
o RCGroups (Community Forum)