RC flying threatened by laws across the globe

February 25, 2013 15:19 | By | 4 Comments

FPV and RC model flying as a hobby are under attack by new legislation which is being introduced around the globe right now. Read up on some examples and draft proposals after the break.


All around the world legislators have started drafting or even passing new bills that severely restrict the freedoms of RC modelers. In most cases special restrictions are being placed on FPV models (or indeed anything that can carry a camera), and with one swift stroke people in western democracies find themselves on the far side of the law, some of them suddenly having to live under more restrictions than RC modelers in China.

A few excerpts:

New Hampshire, Bill HB-619-FN:

A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.

Washington State, House Bill 1771:

H.B. 1771 contains much needed guidelines statewide to limit drone use to protect the rights of Washington residents under the 4th Amendment as well as Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution, while allowing drones to be used only after a warrant is issued or in certain emergency situations such as wildfire observation and search and rescue.
(No exemptions for privately operated UAVs are made in this bill)

Charlottesville, VA, bans all “drones”.

Texas, Bill HB912:

Gooden’s House Bill 912, which is being sponsored in the Senate by John Whitmire, D-Houston and chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, would make it a Class C misdemeanor to use an “unmanned vehicle or aircraft” to capture video or photographs of private property without the consent of the property’s owner or occupant. It would be an additional penalty to possess, display or distribute an image or video captured by an illegally operating drone.

Oregon, Bill 71:

(1) A person may not possess or control a drone unless permitted to do so by the federal government or by the Oregon Department of Aviation under section 7 of this 2013 Act.  A person who possesses or controls a drone in violation of subsection (1) of this section commits a Class B misdemeanor.  A person who possesses or controls a drone in violation of subsection (1) of this section and uses the drone to capture an image of a person or object on the ground or in the air commits a Class A misdemeanor.

Living outside the US? New Zealand, Germany, France, and even Austria are preparing new laws that restrict not just RC planes with cameras, but in the case of Austra go even further. An incomplete list of the planned restrictions there:

  • Models with less than 79 joule total energy may fly no higher than 30 meters
  • Maximum flying altitude for models with more than 79 joule: 400 ft (122 meters)
  • Minimum distance of 50 meters to any observer
  • Maximum flying range 500 meters
  • RC models can no longer legally be operated for any kind of commercial interest, such use will require registration, authorization and additional fees.

Most of these laws are currently being introduced. Needless to say, we can only urge you to find out what the planned laws are in your country/state, and act accordingly. It was only a matter of time before RC model aircraft in general, and FPV models in particular, became a matter of government control. While these laws come with heavy fines for private citicens, they often (though not always) contain sweeping permissions for defense companies, intelligence agencies and police to use what is apparently perceived as the next big instrument of power.

Time is running out. The big lobby groups have already secured their areas of interest, now it is up to us RC modelers to stand and defend our right to pursue our hobby.


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Comments (4)

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  1. Bud Tucker says:

    Enjoy the hobby while you can. GPS flying, FPV and large scale RC are going to be so illegal. The government has no choice. I think they will also restrict selling or mailing some components of these devices. It takes very little imagination to see the weapons that could be built by anyone with what is available now. This is not even considering the privacy issue.
    Not good, not good!


    • fpvcentral says:

      The problem is that they are attacking a non-issue. Even if someone wanted to use RC models as delivery system for bombs and such, there are far more capable systems that will never ever be banned, which are way more lethal, and can carry a substantially larger payload: Cars!

      However, because people can be scared into fearing “these creepy drones” it’s likely that such legislation is going to become more and more restrictive.

      Indeed it’s likely that 30 years down the road we’ll look back to these days and say “Oh, remember how much freedoms we had flying our planes? Man, those were the days…”

  2. doug roundup says:

    Ya know it kinda reminds me of all the infighting within the R/C community when the issue of AMA sanctioned flying field and the controversy of a second player arriving on the block that offered a second affordable alternative to provide properly underwritten liabilty responsibilty to the operators of RC crafts, offering protection, reassurance and recourse to the general public for damages that may occur as result of their underwritten operators.
    Truth be told….. It is just the facts that operation of any machine the responsibilty and liability is that of the operator. The FAA even stipulates on the Federal level that to operate a RC aircraft or really any aircraft…. That some sort of financial responsibility be instituted. Traditionally membership in the national aeromodeling lobby… The AMA was provider and underwriter of such liability policies. For years the aero modeling community exsist with a mostly self regulating national body that represented the community before federal and even international governing agencies. Many sport fliers and weekend warrior schoolyard pilots would often scoff and complain of overly strict rules and restrictions placed by the AMA and required membership. However most all independent operations no matter how benign they may seem would indeed be in violation of at several forms of technically violating federal, state lawand/or local ordinance. How many FPV pilots today are operating thier craft with proper liability insurance or with the proper AMA waiver? Perhaps they need just more strictly enforce and properly penalize the laws in existence now? Think we better start representing ourselves much better and take better responsibility….. Ignorance is no excuse for the law. Maybe better to be quiet and not say too much until we can better our knowledge and represent ourselves in a better responsible and compliant light.

  3. Adam says:

    I was born in communist state and grown up there. Please positively read it and remember these reflections. The world of oppression especially against pursue your own individual activities, hobbies – this world of oppression I have found in the west. In communist times as long as you have not interfered against one “chosen” political party – no one affected you. You only could not record military facilities. This is strange – but level of control indicates that process of losing freedoms (in the west) is far, far beyond this what I knew and felt in communist state – Poland.
    I was in Austria few days ago and while talking with the local FPV community members I felt almost as moved back to some fascist times. Start to feel total control and start to be afraid of someone watching, as you are flying … he or she may call POLIZEI … Because he or she is unable to differentiate in own deep racist primitiveness – killing Drones and RC models. He or she should enjoy view of this beauty electric RC model but no, this is DRONE! What?
    To construct a bomb as TV shows he or she will use a car or travel bag … As many idiots have done already! My best model could raise extra at maximum one kilo and only at a short distance with very limited control (fly almost straight). Do you fly big models in towns? How, where?  What are we talking about?! Besides majority of people already have a guidance system in a pocket. This is an IPhone. It only needs to add extra software that each ICT student can do. This is that simple. In IPhone you have GPS, gyro and Google-maps and through GMS network almost HD view and unlimited telemetry achievable. Do you need more? 3D analysis in infrared? It is also available through consumer products. Now prohibit IPhones worldwide … I could easily continue with these examples and extent level of “security and safety” to “do nothing – it is potentially dangerous”. Recently Russian students have constructed autonomous car better than one developed by Google. I will not mention difference in budgets. Western word turned into something not understanding how to assure safety and freedoms to own citizens. Before politicians should decide on anything – they at first should educate themselves or at least work with non-lobby, unbiased experts. At your service!
    I will translate for you part of one of a polish songs (one from communist times):
    “Freedom, I love and understand,
    freedom, I cannot give away.”

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