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CBOs & FAA Guidance


New Member
Jun 11, 2022
The following is a PM I sent to BigAl07. He is very busy and indicated that time limits prevent him from being able to address each point in the detail he felt they deserved. So, he recommended posting the message I sent him (here it is with a few edits) and suggested he could take a look and provide any needed additional guidance. Thanks for a great/positive/knowledgeable community folks!

"I've included a couple of hyperlinks in this message for the sake of reducing any need to dig to know what I am referring to. I hope this can help if needed/desired.

Back in February you participated in a thread addressing the regulations pertaining to flying over people and pointed out that recreation rules are completely separate from Part 107.

Like other recreational drone pilots who actually try to follow any of this, I am flummoxed and believe if anyone knows about it, you do.

You mentioned that currently, recreational drone pilots do not have a formal restriction in place regarding flying over people (obviously talking about casual/inadvertent passes and not large "events"). I have also heard that because the FAA says to follow the rules of an approved CBO (and none are currently approved) or an existing aeromodeling organization -- OR "use the FAA provided safety guidelines" (post 14 in this link touches on the concept that fuels one of my questions) that due to guidelines from the AMA (maybe closest thing to a widely recognized CBO), flight over people is still strictly forbidden for recreational pilots.

1) Don't the safety guidelines provided by the FAA (that the FAA lists as an alternative to CBO *or* existing aeromodeling organization rules until approved CBOs are named) also contain a point indicating that recreational pilots need to follow the rules of a CBO/existing aeromodeling organization - or are they different (THIS link makes it look like the FAA provided safety guidelines still require following CBO/aeromodeling organization rules)? If so, I'm not sure how to follow them as an alternative to CBOs/existing aeromodeling organization rules. It seems like if I were to say to an officer who wanted to know which rules I was following, that I was following the basic FAA safety guidelines for recreational flyers AKA AC-91-57B section 7.1.2, I would also have to (due to the wording in those exact rules) follow a CBO's rules. If I click on the link for at THIS site, it bring me to the FAA site that once again says to follow a CBO. Following the links for the FAA's "existing basic safety guidelines" just ends up being a circle where the instructions continue to say one needs to follow the guidelines of a CBO... While I can find the legislative documents and the FAA guidelines that state the FAA guidelines are an alternative, I cannot find any of those guidelines that do not also include instruction to follow a CBO's rules. You get it. Now I'm going in circles too.

2) It feels a little bit like the only organization nearly everyone agrees will be an approved CBO is the AMA. Some of their guidelines frankly seem a little crazy for light drone recreational use. They definitely do not permit flying over people and even go as far as to specify not flying over any occupied structures. If I had a large drone or model airplane/helicopter etc. this would make SO MUCH sense. I wonder though, does this mean that I cannot even fly over my own or my neighbors' homes with a two hundred and forty something gram Mini 2:rolleyes:? If this is the case, I truly hope such rules will not be the requirement with all approved CBOs! It would seem like MANY people would be limited to a pretty extreme limitation of where and when they could fly. It would be very tricky if they cannot go over ANY occupied structure(s) and will be breaking the law if they pass over someone or someone walks/drives briefly under their flight path. This can't be completely right can it?

3) With a small craft, the FTCA is much more open to doing a basic/inadvertant/or perhaps advertant/brief pass over a pedestrian/ with nothing about an "occupied structure" flyover for light drones etc. -- Does this mean that I could print the FTCA guidelines for now and present those as the rules I am following at this time? I would still prefer to just use the FAA rules assuming they truly do not require CBO compliance but (circles again)...

4) Ultimately, what organizations' guidelines/rules can I state I am following that do not severely limit flights to the point of *never* even briefly passing over a person and never passing over an "occupied structure" - thanks AMA- ? Don't get me wrong - I would *prefer* to avoid flying over people 99% of the time.

5) Finally, Once the FAA has approved CBOs - do you (opinion here) foresee any of them being approved without banning all flight over a person and/or occupied structure?

I certainly want to be extremely careful and avoid any scenario that would shine a negative light on me or the hobby. I also want to be able to really enjoy the hobby. If the rules get too strict, relatively few people are going to be able to fit the description of flying for fun because in just sincerely striving to following the rules, the fun will be diminished and therefore the pilot will no longer fit under the recreation exception ;).

THANK YOU SO VERY VERY MUCH for any insight you can give regarding these questions and further clarification. Yes, I have dug through this site and many others and get so much conflicting information."
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