Micro Motor Community

FPV FAA regulations for micros?


My local RC club has decided to fully adopt the FAA/AMA’s rules for FPV e.g. you must have one spotter per FPVer, etc. Since most micros (brushless included) fall into the sub 250g category and are considered “toys”, does anyone know if the FAA/AMA’s rules still apply?


@Mullet: Staying below the 250g limit will only get you out of FAA registration. All the other rules and regulations, notably airspace restrictions, apply regardless of weight. So, technically, the same regs apply whether you fly a 20g Nano QX or a 55 lbs mega quad.

The saving grace is enforcement discretion. I would hope the FAA has better things to do than go after people who have fun with toy micro quads.

Similarly, AMA document 550 requires a spotter for FPV, regardless of the model aircraft’s weight. So if your club wants to follow AMA policy to the word, you’re SOL.

I would hope that your club is flexible enough to allow micro-FPV without a spotter. If not, it sounds like they are trying to marginalize FPV and it’s time to find a new club and/or become a gypsy flier (no club). :wink:

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That is true of the FAA. But also, apparently in the US, you need a HAM technicians license to comply with the FCC if you are using any FPV gear that has not been licensed by the FCC (and basically any pieces and full VTX combos sold are not compliant with the FCC).

This is a very easy license to get, and I’ll probably do it. It mainly gives you the safety knowledge you need. However, I’ve been flying FPV for awhile and never really seen it enforced anywhere, even in MultiGP it’s ‘recommended’ and not enforced as far as I know…


Does a trusty spotting dog satisfy the regulation?


So after looking through that article it’s basically illegal to do any fpv in America (Gotta love our freedom™ :unamused:). Short of having somebody else there with you to keep LOS while you use a trainer controller connected to theirs. This place is stupid.

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It’s basically the same over here.

While it’s not 100% sure whether you have to fly in a master/slave trainer configuration you definitely need a spotter which can at least “kill switch” your quad. At least that’s how the “local” quad races seem to interpret the rules - AFAIK every pilot is required to have a designated spotter being able to take your machine out of the air ASAP but not trainer setup required.

I think a spotter makes sense for FPV - especially if what you are flying is not really a toy anymore.
A NQX is just a little slap in the face - an Atom RX122 on 4S is >120g of rather dangerous power. And let’s be honest - our machines don’t have any redundancies.


A spotter for races (and fpv in places occupied by others, like a park) make sense, especially with the bigger multirotors. Around here there are a decent amount of fields and open areas where it doesn’t seem as necessary as long as you stay aware of your surroundings. I wouldn’t fpv downtown as enticing as it may seem, haha. :sweat_smile:

What kind of kill switch do spotters typically have?


@jayodas Love it! Who’s a good boy? Best spotter ever, if only that qualified. Unfortunately our PWD would pull my quads out of the sky…

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Sure the FAA might not be interested in enforcement of toys, but certain members of my club might not see it that way. I feel some might take a black and white approach to the matter. In fact, I know of at least one member who can’t stand quads because he had to register his glider and this particular gentleman always has a propensity to show up at the field when I happen to be there - with a spotter or not. Because of his disdain he might have a likeliness to “tattle” on other club members for flying FPV alone, even sub-250 craft. The fear of the club is that they will get their privilege taken away from the town that has jurisdiction over our field. One solution the town via our club has provided is a specific area to fly FPV or quadcopters in that is surrounded by un-mowed vegetation. I’d think that this should be enough to get others off your back, but apparently not. The currect rules are if you get caught alone - warning… a 2nd time… ban from the club for 30 days.

It is my understanding that you need a HAM license for anything over 25mW in the US. The club apparently hasn’t even gotten wind of that rule yet.

Yup hence the clubs rule that each and every FPVer needs a spotter.

I agree to a point…

I’m of the opinion that a spotter is good for a few things in our part of the hobby. But for the rules that the FAA/AMA specify I feel they are a bit off base. A spotter is good to let you know you’re out of bounds in terms of flight location. A spotter is helpful to point you in the direction of a crash. Where the FAA/AMA gets it wrong is in the area of FPV racing style quads and micros in general. For example, if I’m racing I’m usually no more than 30’ off the ground. It’s safer to dump the quad and crash than hand the controller over to a spotter. My assumption is that the rules have fixed wing craft or a phantom in mind where it might be easier to take over if the pilot loses control. My craft will always be on the ground faster than a person taking over.

None that I know of. Cut the throttle via switch? Wouldn’t the pilot just do that.

So all in all I’m hoping that going forward we can put people in the AMA in power that can advocate for multi-rotors and FPV that actually know about it. Sorry, the old timers in my club don’t have much of a clue about what FPV / multi-rotors are about. There are a few who are curious or are beginning to get involved at some capacity. I’m all for showing them the way. For now, I guess I just gotta follow the rules… or find a private place to fly :wink:

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@Mullet: Sounds like your club has a strong “old school” element, which frowns on innovation that upends the status quo. Over the past few years, many clubs that were initially reluctant to welcome multi-rotors have managed to find peace with a separate multi-rotor area. Too bad that hasn’t worked in your club so far.

That’s not correct. Legally speaking, you need a HAM license even below 25mW. The only way to avoid the HAM licensing requirement is to use FCC certified equipment (Part 15, I think). This is indicated by an FCC sticker and an FCC number, which you can look up in an FCC database. This is very rare on FPV equipment. The only example I can think of is a fully-enclosed Immersion RC VTX with permanently attached antenna, which was sold some years ago.

Agreed. The unconditional requirement of AMA doc 50 to use a spotter for any and all FPV flying regardless of mass/AUW or flying environment seems narrow-minded and draconian. The upside, which is probably why it ended up that way, is that it’s cut and dry, no ifs and buts. Because it’s so black and white, there are no gray areas.

My personal hope is that we will eventually be able to find some common ground with the FAA, AMA, and clubs, where amateur/hobby FPV aircraft below a certain weight, e.g. 500g, and flying in a closed-off or otherwise safe area, are exempt from the requirement for a spotter (and possibly other requirements).


Actually they have worked with the town to make a specific multi-rotor area that has at least 30’ border on each end of the field. It’s just that they are scared that even one little incident will threaten the ability to fly at this park period.

Thanks for the clarification. I got my information somewhere in a thread about FPV on rcgroups.

Exactly! This is what it should have been in the first place. And this goes hand in hand with my club carving out a mowed area in a larger un-mowed field. You’d think the club could make an exemption by putting proper signage at the edges of the field indicating that multi-rotor flight occurs there.

The thing that galls me the most is the guys who are worried and complaining about the multi-rotors don’t always fly in their designated area. The bad cop glider guy included. They use their fixed wings or gliders over an area where people walk, run, picnic, etc. They fly at times what looks to be above 400’. These craft can be just as much of a danger as our mini multis. Micros - it’s not even in the same category.


@Mullet The spotter rule is a good thing for the club to have. What I’m saying is that technically in the US even that isn’t enough. You’re supposed to have a Pilot In Command who has a master controller while you, the fpv’er, are flying using a training controller connected to the PIC’s master controller. This way they can take over at any time. From my understanding this is the “legal” way to fvp here. Which is a bit asinine. This is on top of needing a HAM License to even be flying fpv. Unfortunately I think we’re going to be stuck with the current regulations for a bit so the best we can hope for at the moment is enforcement discretion, where (hopefully) we don’t get bothered so long as we’re flying safely and away from people.

I used to fly my stick flyer at the high school here (2 Baseball Fields, 2 Soccer, 1 Football and plenty of other space with hills all over, really fun terrain) as there are plenty of times where there isn’t anybody around and I’ve never been bothered or had an issue. Even had a cop hang out and watch me fly for a few minutes one time. So there is a bit of hope.

Edit: Also I was asking what the spotters used as a kill switch as Las mentioned something about them needing to be able to kill them at any time.


Not exactly sure - maybe they have just to stand so close to the pilots remote that they can easily access the disarm switch (or maybe just an external disarm switch with a cable to the pilots remote?). Taking over control on a racing quad in master/slave config just makes no sense at all. Disarming does.


Welcome to America, now take a number and get in line…

(Switch connected to the transmitter makes sense though, and yea the PIC/Trainer Controller thing is retarded)


Yup… rc plane dudes making rules for quadcopter dudes.


You know what rules are made for though right?

:middle_finger: Doing that at the man who made them.


LOL, @JG101! :sweat_smile:

I would caution that it depends on how close to you “the man” is standing, and what type of tools are at his disposal. :anguished:

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Yes the FPV rules in the US apply to quads under 250 grams. You need a visual observer if flying FPV even with micros.


I’ll have to be more careful in the future when I look down at my phone screen to fpv when I fly my 19g Cheerson, don’t want to break any rules now :wink:


LOL! I had one of those but couldnt control it and it flew off