CVRC Club/FAA Letter of Agreement Now In Effect

May 23, 2021

Following over 2½ years of negotiations with the FAA and Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control, the formal operating agreement between the FAA SoCalTRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) and our Club has taken effect 05/13/2021.  It is one of the few such agreements established to date in the National Airspace System.  More will follow, eventually covering all model airfields/airparks located within 5 statute miles of an airport within FAA-controlled airspace.  Beginning with the passage of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, and with heavy input from the commercial drone industry, the FAA began to place much more stringent controls on the National Airspace with regard to the operation of “unmanned aircraft systems” in controlled airspace and/or within 5 miles of an airport.  Because our airfield is located less than 5 miles from Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport and in Class E2 controlled airspace, the initial proposal of the FAA/SoCal TRACON was to limit our flying to the confines of the airfield property and with a 100’ AGL altitude limit!  After many hours spent working with AMA leadership and the support of our California Senators Boxer and Feinstein and our local Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz (who even launched a congressional investigation into the FAA’s handling of our airspace situation) these efforts ultimately culminated in an FAA Safety Risk Mitigation (SRM) meeting to consider our request for a 1000-2000’ altitude limit extending in a 2000’ radius from the runway.  Our club is only the third club in the country to go through the SRM process.  The 4-day SRM Zoom meeting (during COVID-19) included Club officers Dan Metz, Rich Wilabee and George Krueger, AMA president Rich Hanson, AMA Government Affairs Officer Tyler Dobbs and the FAA liaison from Congressman Ruiz’s office among the 30+ attendees.  At the conclusion of the SRM, we were granted 900’ altitude x 2000’ radius operating airspace from dawn to dusk every day and can extend the altitude to 2000’ with one-day notice (not “permission”) to FAA/SoCal TRACON.  Club president Dan Metz said, “This is a major milestone for the Club, and a tribute to our 19 years of safe operations at our field.”  Including the recent re-sealing of our runway and the new shade clothes installed this winter, “This is a triad of success!” Metz said.

The intent of the Agreement is to prevent interference between full-scale and UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) via a set of simple and practical rules.  Among these rules:

   *  CVRCC Members and AMA Guest Pilots must be familiar with all the rules of the Agreement.

   * UAS must give way to full-scale aircraft under all circumstances.

   * All UAS flights must be within a 2000′ radius of the center of our runway.

   *  Our flight altitudes are limited to 900′ routinely, 2000′ with at least a 1-day prior e-mail notice to the FAA.

    *  Flights can be conducted every day during daylight hours as long as VFR (Visual Flight Rules) conditions prevail.  These are a 1000′ ceiling and 3 miles visibility, as reported on Jackie Cochran transcribed weather, phone (760) 399-1494.

   *   Unaided Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) contact is required between the UAS and pilot at all times.

    *  For flights to 900′, an aircraft spotter and monitoring of the Cochran air traffic radio frequency 123.0 mhz are recommended.

   * For flights 901′ to 2000′, and at all Special Events, using a visual spotter and monitoring 123.0 radio traffic are MANDATORY.

    *  In no case shall telemetry-only (First Person View) be the primary means of UAS navigation and piloting.

    *  A formal Notice to Airmen has been published (TRM 05/0020) notifying all full-scale pilots of our location, operating radius and altitudes.

This initial Letter of Agreement expires in one year.  We anticipate routine renewal as long as no problems develop.  As managers of the National Airspace System, the FAA retains the right to suspend UAS operations and to cancel the Agreement for any reason.

We anticipate the continuation of our 19-year history of no-interference with manned-aircraft traffic.  Our sincere thanks go to Dan Metz, George Krueger and the late Rich Wilabee for their hard work and perseverance in getting this agreement completed!

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