As suddenly as it cancelled the rule, the FAA has reinstated Advisory Circular 91-57, the Model Aircraft Operating Standards that have guided radio control aircraft operators since 1981. As we reported last week, the AC was cancelled on Oct. 10. It was back in force by Oct. 14. Cancellation of the AC, which sets out the voluntary safety and good-neighbor practices for RC aircraft operations, took the RC and sUAS (small unmanned aerial systems) communities by surprise. Rich Hanson, who looks after government and regulatory affairs for the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), got hold of Jim Williams, executive manager of the FAA UAS Integration Office, and was told it was all a mistake. "It was learned that the announcement was premature and the cancellation notice on the FAA webpage was posted in error," Hanson said in a statement.
Hanson also said the "outdated AC" will be cancelled in the future but not without notice and explanation from the FAA. The AC will be replaced with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft that is part of the current FAA authorization passed by Congress in 2012. The new rule has been updated to incorporate the rapidly expanding sUAS sector. In the meantime, the AMA, which sets RC model operating standards through its affiliated clubs, is urging members to maintain those standards while getting ready for the new regime. "AMA members are encouraged to become familiar with the provisions of the Special Rule and continue to operate their model aircraft safely and responsibly in accordance with the National Model Aircraft Safety Code and the AMA Safety Program," Hanson said in his statement.