Interpretation of Notification Requirements To Exclude Model Aircraft, 54736-54737 [2015-22933]

Download as PDF 54736 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 176 / Friday, September 11, 2015 / Rules and Regulations [FR Doc. C1–2015–14127 Filed 9–10–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1505–01–D NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD 49 CFR Part 830 [Docket No. NTSB–AS–2015–0001] Interpretation of Notification Requirements To Exclude Model Aircraft National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB or Board). ACTION: Notice of interpretation. AGENCY: This document provides the NTSB’s interpretation of the applicability of the agency’s regulations concerning aircraft accident notification requirements to unmanned aircraft. The regulations define ‘‘unmanned aircraft accident’’ and require notifications of accidents that fulfill the criteria included in the definition. By this Notice, the NTSB clarifies it does not consider model aircraft to fall within the regulatory definition of unmanned aircraft accident, for purposes of required notification. DATES: Effective September 11, 2015. ADDRESSES: A copy of this Notice of interpretation is available for inspection and copying at NTSB Headquarters, 490 L’Enfant Plaza SW., Washington, DC 20594–2003. Alternatively, a copy of the Notice is available on the NTSB’s Web site at www.ntsb.gov and at the government-wide Web site on regulations at www.regulations.gov, Docket No. NTSB–AS–2015–0001. A paper copy is available. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William English, NTSB Office of Aviation Safety, (202) 314–6686. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES NTSB Investigations of Unmanned Aircraft On August 24, 2010, the NTSB published a Final Rule defining ‘‘unmanned aircraft accident’’ as: [A]n occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which: (1) Any person suffers death or serious injury; or (2) The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage. 75 FR 51953, 51955.1 1 Existing NTSB regulations define ‘‘serious injury’’ and ‘‘substantial damage.’’ 49 CFR 830.2. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:06 Sep 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 In the preamble to the Final Rule, the NTSB stated it sought to exclude model aircraft from the notification requirements of 49 CFR part 830. 75 FR at 51954. The NTSB’s promulgation of the notification requirements with wellrecognized definitions in part 830 was prompted by enactment of the Airport and Airway Safety and Capacity Expansion Act of 1987, Public Law 100– 223, 101 Stat. 1486 (Dec. 30, 1987). The statute specifically required the NTSB to promulgate notification requirements, stating the NTSB must ‘‘establish by regulation requirements binding on persons reporting . . . accidents and aviation incidence subject to the Board’s investigatory jurisdiction under this subsection.’’ Id. sec. 311, 101 Stat. 1528. The NTSB has consistently excluded unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flown for hobby and recreational use from the definition of ‘‘accident’’ under 49 CFR part 830, and has historically not investigated the rare occasions in which a model aircraft has caused serious injury or fatality. For purposes of defining the term ‘‘model aircraft’’ in this publication, the NTSB has adopted the definition of the term that appears in section 336(c) of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112–95; 126 Stat. 77–78 (Feb. 14, 2012). Section 336(c) defines ‘‘model aircraft’’ to mean an unmanned aircraft that is: (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes. The NTSB’s exclusion of model aircraft from the applicability of 49 CFR part 830 is consistent with international practices and interpretations concerning accident notifications and investigations. For example, Circular 328 from the International Civil Aviation Organization states model aircraft are outside the scope of applicability of the Chicago Convention. International Civil Aviation Organization, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Circular 328 (2011). The Circular states: ‘‘In the broadest sense, the introduction of UAS does not change any existing distinctions between model aircraft and aircraft. Model aircraft, generally recognized as intended for recreational purposes only, fall outside the provisions of the Chicago Convention, being exclusively the subject of relevant national regulations, if any.’’ Id. at 3, ¶ 2.4. Furthermore, the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) has set forth a similar policy statement. The PO 00000 Frm 00036 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 organization recognizes ‘‘[f]ormal air safety investigations are not constituted to investigate model aircraft accidents, and Annex 13 is not applicable to them.’’ ISASI Unmanned Aircraft System Handbook and Accident/ Incident Investigation Guidelines at 24 (Jan. 2015). Related Legislative and Regulatory Developments On February 14, 2012, the President signed into law the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public Law 112–95. Among other provisions, the statute defines unmanned aircraft and small unmanned aircraft. The statute describes UAS as ‘‘an unmanned aircraft and associated elements (including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.’’ Id. at sec. 331(9). The statute defines ‘‘small unmanned aircraft’’ as a UAS weighing less than 55 pounds. Id. at sec. 331(6). In addition, the statute provides a definition of ‘‘model aircraft.’’ As quoted above, section 336(c) of the Act states the definition of a model aircraft is dependent upon the aircraft’s use; an aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere that is flown within the operator’s visual line of sight and only for hobby or recreational purposes is considered a ‘‘model aircraft.’’ Section 336(a) of the Act precludes the FAA from promulgating any rule concerning a model aircraft if the aircraft: (1) Is flown ‘‘strictly for hobby or recreational use’’; (2) is ‘‘operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization’’; (3) is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified; (4) is ‘‘operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft’’; and (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the model aircraft’s operator provides the airport operator and air traffic control tower with prior notice of its operation. Id. at sec. 336(a). On June 25, 2014, the FAA published a Notice of interpretation with request for comment in the Federal Register. 79 FR 36172. The Notice stated the FAA had received inquiries concerning its enforcement authority over model aircraft, and states based on the language of the statute, aircraft that meet the statutory definition of ‘‘model aircraft’’ and operational requirements, as described above, are ‘‘exempt from future FAA rulemaking action E:\FR\FM\11SER1.SGM 11SER1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 176 / Friday, September 11, 2015 / Rules and Regulations specifically regarding model aircraft.’’ Id. The FAA went on to clarify, however, ‘‘model aircraft that do not meet these statutory requirements are nonetheless unmanned aircraft, and as such, are subject to all existing FAA regulations, as well as future rulemaking action, and the FAA intends to apply its regulations to such unmanned aircraft.’’ Id. at 36173. Following the Notice of interpretation, the FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in which it proposed a new regulatory part to regulate small UAS (14 CFR part 107). 80 FR 9544 (Feb. 23, 2015). Conclusion In light of recent regulatory and legislative actions and industry developments in the area of unmanned aircraft, the agency believes it is prudent to clarify our interpretation of the definitions codified at 49 CFR 830.2 and the notification requirements contained in § 830.5(a) (applicable to ‘‘aircraft accidents’’ and ‘‘serious incidents’’).2 In this regard, we remain consistent with our long-held practice of refraining from conducting investigations of any model aircraft accident or incident. We maintain this declination in our interpretation of our regulations within 49 CFR part 830, and we do not feel compelled to alter this practice in light of recently proposed regulatory changes from the FAA or Congress’s recent inclusion of a statutory definition of ‘‘model aircraft.’’ The NTSB does not now propose a definition of model aircraft, but will consider as instructive the description of ‘‘model aircraft’’ within section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, as described above in the section of this Notice entitled ‘‘Related Legislative and Regulatory Developments.’’ The NTSB trusts operators will find this statement of interpretation helpful in understanding the NTSB’s definition of ‘‘unmanned aircraft accident.’’ Christopher A. Hart, Chairman. [FR Doc. 2015–22933 Filed 9–10–15; 8:45 am] rmajette on DSK7SPTVN1PROD with RULES BILLING CODE 7533–01–P 2 We recognize the aviation community is mindful of the Board’s decision in Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA–5730 (Nov. 18, 2014). In Pirker, the Board held the FAA could apply to UAS 14 CFR 91.13(a), which prohibits careless or reckless operation of aircraft. The respondent’s flight that gave rise to the FAA’s action in Pirker occurred prior to Congress’s enactment of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which addresses UAS, small UAS, and model aircraft. The NTSB considers these statutory definitions instructive in interpreting its regulations. VerDate Sep<11>2014 15:06 Sep 10, 2015 Jkt 235001 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 140117052–4402–02] RIN 0648–XE162 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; Quota Transfer National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; quota transfer. AGENCY: NMFS announces that the Commonwealth of Virginia is transferring a portion of its 2015 commercial Atlantic bluefish quota to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This quota adjustment is necessary to comply with the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan quota transfer provisions. This announcement informs the public of the revised commercial quota for each state involved. DATES: Effective September 8, 2015, through December 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Reid Lichwell, Fishery Management Specialist, (978) 281–9112. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Regulations governing the bluefish fishery are found at 50 CFR part 648. The regulations require annual specification of a commercial quota that is apportioned among the coastal states from Florida through Maine. The process to set the annual commercial quota and the percent allocated to each state are described in § 648.162. The final rule implementing Amendment 1 to the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan, published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2000 (65 FR 45844), provided a mechanism for transferring commercial bluefish quota from one state to another. Two or more states, under mutual agreement and with the concurrence of the Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), can transfer or combine bluefish commercial quota under § 648.162(e). The Regional Administrator is required to consider the criteria in § 648.162(e)(1) in the evaluation of requests for quota transfers or combinations. Virginia has agreed to transfer 50,000 lb (22,680 kg) of its 2015 commercial quota to Massachusetts. This transfer was prompted by state officials in Massachusetts to ensure their commercial bluefish quota is not SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00037 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 54737 exceeded. The Regional Administrator has determined that the criteria set forth in § 648.162(e)(1) are met. The revised bluefish quotas for calendar year 2015 are: Virginia, 422,629 lb (191,701 kg); and Massachusetts, 602,036 lb (273,079 kg), based on the final 2015 Atlantic Bluefish Specifications published August 6, 2015 (80 FR 46848). Classification This action is taken under 50 CFR part 648 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: September 8, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–22953 Filed 9–8–15; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 140918791–4999–02] RIN 0648–XE180 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reapportionment of the 2015 Gulf of Alaska Pacific Halibut Prohibited Species Catch Limits for the Trawl Deep-Water and Shallow-Water Fishery Categories National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Temporary rule; reapportionment. AGENCY: NMFS is reapportioning the seasonal apportionments of the 2015 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species fishery categories in the Gulf of Alaska. This action is necessary to account for the actual halibut PSC use by the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species fishery categories from May 15, 2015 through June 30, 2015. This action is consistent with the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. DATES: Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 9, 2015 through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Josh Keaton, 907–586–7228. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: NMFS manages the groundfish fishery in the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\11SER1.SGM 11SER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 176 (Friday, September 11, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 54736-54737]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-22933]


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NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD

49 CFR Part 830

[Docket No. NTSB-AS-2015-0001]


Interpretation of Notification Requirements To Exclude Model 
Aircraft

AGENCY: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB or Board).

ACTION: Notice of interpretation.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document provides the NTSB's interpretation of the 
applicability of the agency's regulations concerning aircraft accident 
notification requirements to unmanned aircraft. The regulations define 
``unmanned aircraft accident'' and require notifications of accidents 
that fulfill the criteria included in the definition. By this Notice, 
the NTSB clarifies it does not consider model aircraft to fall within 
the regulatory definition of unmanned aircraft accident, for purposes 
of required notification.

DATES: Effective September 11, 2015.

ADDRESSES: A copy of this Notice of interpretation is available for 
inspection and copying at NTSB Headquarters, 490 L'Enfant Plaza SW., 
Washington, DC 20594-2003. Alternatively, a copy of the Notice is 
available on the NTSB's Web site at www.ntsb.gov and at the government-
wide Web site on regulations at www.regulations.gov, Docket No. NTSB-
AS-2015-0001. A paper copy is available.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William English, NTSB Office of 
Aviation Safety, (202) 314-6686.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

NTSB Investigations of Unmanned Aircraft

    On August 24, 2010, the NTSB published a Final Rule defining 
``unmanned aircraft accident'' as:

    [A]n occurrence associated with the operation of any public or 
civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time 
that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time 
that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in 
which: (1) Any person suffers death or serious injury; or (2) The 
aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater 
and sustains substantial damage.

75 FR 51953, 51955.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Existing NTSB regulations define ``serious injury'' and 
``substantial damage.'' 49 CFR 830.2.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the preamble to the Final Rule, the NTSB stated it sought to 
exclude model aircraft from the notification requirements of 49 CFR 
part 830. 75 FR at 51954. The NTSB's promulgation of the notification 
requirements with well-recognized definitions in part 830 was prompted 
by enactment of the Airport and Airway Safety and Capacity Expansion 
Act of 1987, Public Law 100-223, 101 Stat. 1486 (Dec. 30, 1987). The 
statute specifically required the NTSB to promulgate notification 
requirements, stating the NTSB must ``establish by regulation 
requirements binding on persons reporting . . . accidents and aviation 
incidence subject to the Board's investigatory jurisdiction under this 
subsection.'' Id. sec. 311, 101 Stat. 1528.
    The NTSB has consistently excluded unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) 
flown for hobby and recreational use from the definition of 
``accident'' under 49 CFR part 830, and has historically not 
investigated the rare occasions in which a model aircraft has caused 
serious injury or fatality. For purposes of defining the term ``model 
aircraft'' in this publication, the NTSB has adopted the definition of 
the term that appears in section 336(c) of the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 
112-95; 126 Stat. 77-78 (Feb. 14, 2012). Section 336(c) defines ``model 
aircraft'' to mean an unmanned aircraft that is:

    (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
    (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating 
the aircraft; and
    (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

    The NTSB's exclusion of model aircraft from the applicability of 49 
CFR part 830 is consistent with international practices and 
interpretations concerning accident notifications and investigations. 
For example, Circular 328 from the International Civil Aviation 
Organization states model aircraft are outside the scope of 
applicability of the Chicago Convention. International Civil Aviation 
Organization, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Circular 328 (2011). The 
Circular states: ``In the broadest sense, the introduction of UAS does 
not change any existing distinctions between model aircraft and 
aircraft. Model aircraft, generally recognized as intended for 
recreational purposes only, fall outside the provisions of the Chicago 
Convention, being exclusively the subject of relevant national 
regulations, if any.'' Id. at 3, ] 2.4. Furthermore, the International 
Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) has set forth a similar 
policy statement. The organization recognizes ``[f]ormal air safety 
investigations are not constituted to investigate model aircraft 
accidents, and Annex 13 is not applicable to them.'' ISASI Unmanned 
Aircraft System Handbook and Accident/Incident Investigation Guidelines 
at 24 (Jan. 2015).

Related Legislative and Regulatory Developments

    On February 14, 2012, the President signed into law the FAA 
Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Public Law 112-95. Among other 
provisions, the statute defines unmanned aircraft and small unmanned 
aircraft. The statute describes UAS as ``an unmanned aircraft and 
associated elements (including communication links and the components 
that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for the pilot in 
command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace 
system.'' Id. at sec. 331(9). The statute defines ``small unmanned 
aircraft'' as a UAS weighing less than 55 pounds. Id. at sec. 331(6).
    In addition, the statute provides a definition of ``model 
aircraft.'' As quoted above, section 336(c) of the Act states the 
definition of a model aircraft is dependent upon the aircraft's use; an 
aircraft capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere that is flown 
within the operator's visual line of sight and only for hobby or 
recreational purposes is considered a ``model aircraft.''
    Section 336(a) of the Act precludes the FAA from promulgating any 
rule concerning a model aircraft if the aircraft: (1) Is flown 
``strictly for hobby or recreational use''; (2) is ``operated in 
accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within 
the programming of a nationwide community-based organization''; (3) is 
limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified; (4) is 
``operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to 
any manned aircraft''; and (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, 
the model aircraft's operator provides the airport operator and air 
traffic control tower with prior notice of its operation. Id. at sec. 
336(a).
    On June 25, 2014, the FAA published a Notice of interpretation with 
request for comment in the Federal Register. 79 FR 36172. The Notice 
stated the FAA had received inquiries concerning its enforcement 
authority over model aircraft, and states based on the language of the 
statute, aircraft that meet the statutory definition of ``model 
aircraft'' and operational requirements, as described above, are 
``exempt from future FAA rulemaking action

[[Page 54737]]

specifically regarding model aircraft.'' Id. The FAA went on to 
clarify, however, ``model aircraft that do not meet these statutory 
requirements are nonetheless unmanned aircraft, and as such, are 
subject to all existing FAA regulations, as well as future rulemaking 
action, and the FAA intends to apply its regulations to such unmanned 
aircraft.'' Id. at 36173. Following the Notice of interpretation, the 
FAA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in which it proposed a 
new regulatory part to regulate small UAS (14 CFR part 107). 80 FR 9544 
(Feb. 23, 2015).

Conclusion

    In light of recent regulatory and legislative actions and industry 
developments in the area of unmanned aircraft, the agency believes it 
is prudent to clarify our interpretation of the definitions codified at 
49 CFR 830.2 and the notification requirements contained in Sec.  
830.5(a) (applicable to ``aircraft accidents'' and ``serious 
incidents'').\2\ In this regard, we remain consistent with our long-
held practice of refraining from conducting investigations of any model 
aircraft accident or incident. We maintain this declination in our 
interpretation of our regulations within 49 CFR part 830, and we do not 
feel compelled to alter this practice in light of recently proposed 
regulatory changes from the FAA or Congress's recent inclusion of a 
statutory definition of ``model aircraft.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ We recognize the aviation community is mindful of the 
Board's decision in Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA-5730 
(Nov. 18, 2014). In Pirker, the Board held the FAA could apply to 
UAS 14 CFR 91.13(a), which prohibits careless or reckless operation 
of aircraft. The respondent's flight that gave rise to the FAA's 
action in Pirker occurred prior to Congress's enactment of the FAA 
Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which addresses UAS, small 
UAS, and model aircraft. The NTSB considers these statutory 
definitions instructive in interpreting its regulations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The NTSB does not now propose a definition of model aircraft, but 
will consider as instructive the description of ``model aircraft'' 
within section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, as 
described above in the section of this Notice entitled ``Related 
Legislative and Regulatory Developments.''
    The NTSB trusts operators will find this statement of 
interpretation helpful in understanding the NTSB's definition of 
``unmanned aircraft accident.''

Christopher A. Hart,
Chairman.
[FR Doc. 2015-22933 Filed 9-10-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7533-01-P