This information enables us to take appropriate action to ensure safe operation in the NAS. The notice also proposed to specify reporting practices for the new category Class 3 and Class 4 rockets. Operators of rockets with these characteristics generally file for a certificate of waiver or authorization to conduct their operations.
They are exempt from launch license regulations in part Operators are often contacted for additional information when the FAA receives their waiver application. As proposed, most, if not all, information would be submitted on the initial waiver application, which would save the FAA and the operator's time and expense. Amateur rocket regulations were written when the amateur rocket community used mainly solid rocket motors. Now the amateur rocket Start Printed Page community also uses liquid propellants.
We proposed to redefine amateur rocket activity to reflect this advanced rocket environment and codify safe practices being used by the amateur rocket community.
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The FAA received comments from 33 entities including rocketry associations, a pilot association, and individuals. Many individual commenters also identified themselves as members of these organizations. In general, commenters supported the proposed requirements and suggested several changes. The comments fall into the following categories:. Below is a more detailed discussion of the rule as it relates to the comments we received.
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The FAA proposes to define amateur rocket as an unmanned rocket propelled by a motor or motors having a combined total impulse of , Newton-seconds , pound-seconds or less, and cannot reach an altitude greater than km As a result, the value in the NPRM definition does not correspond with any natural dividing line between impulse levels.
The FAA believes the current total impulse limit represents a reasonable boundary based on the potential performance of a rocket with that total impulse. Two individual commenters suggested the FAA begin to consider rulemaking for amateur rockets that may go into Earth orbit. The FAA believes that km is the best limit for amateur rocket launch operations. Any rocket that goes above the km altitude limit will involve licensing issues, i. This proposal would align all definitions and operating requirements for unmanned rockets in a single subpart. We would continue to allow model rockets to operate without FAA oversight.
We received no comments on this action.
The FAA adopts this proposal without change. We proposed two new classes of amateur rockets.
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We defined Class 1 as an amateur rocket using less than grams 4. We defined Class 2 as an amateur rocket using less than grams 4. The NAR, as well as the other commenters on this section, recommended combining Class 1 and Class 2 into a single classification—Class 1. The other classes would be renumbered. The FAA created the two classes, model rocket and large model rocket, in Since that time amateur rocket hobbyists have established a history of safe operation for large model rockets. We have analyzed the performance of proposed large model rockets, in light of NAR's suggestion, and found they can cause more significant damage to persons or property than model rockets.
However, neither model rockets nor large model rockets can affect air traffic if operated in accordance with this regulation. Since local ordinances cover hazards due to the reckless use of model and large model rockets on ground-based property and persons, the FAA agrees that combining these two classes is appropriate. We proposed a new Class 3—High-Power Rocket as an amateur rocket other than a model rocket or large model rocket propelled by a motor or motors having a combined total impulse of , Newton-seconds 36, pound-seconds or less.
Several commenters recommended the upper limit for Class 3 be reduced from , Newton-seconds to 40, Newton-seconds. These commenters suggest any rocket with the ability to reach greater altitudes belongs in Class 4—Advanced High-Power Rockets. The FAA agrees. Further, most amateur rocket activities involve rockets with a total impulse of 40, Newton-seconds or less.
The FAA has reconsidered this proposal and revises the criteria and class for high-power rockets. We proposed the following general operating limitations for amateur rocket activities:. We further included a condition that we may specify additional operating restrictions necessary to ensure that air traffic is not adversely affected, and public safety is not jeopardized. We received no comments on this section. Specifically, persons operating this class of rocket must do so in a manner that does not create a hazard to persons, property, or other aircraft.
No comments were received on this proposal. However, after further review, we realize our intent was to apply this requirement to all classes of amateur rockets. We have removed any specific reference to Class 1 model rockets.click here
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These requirements now apply to amateur rockets in general. We received comments from the NAR, ROC, Rocketry of Central Carolina, and 13 individual commenters stating the proposed rule does not provide flexibility for waiving this requirement. They commented further that the proposal does not consider airport size, frequency of flight operations, facilities, location, or history of safe operations, and maintained that it is unclear whether this requirement can be waived.
The FAA understands High-Power Rockets have a long history of safe operation within 5 statute miles of airport boundaries and agrees such operations should be allowed to continue, when appropriate, under a certificate of waiver or authorization. The same separation distance exists in the current regulation. Several commenters questioned the requirement regarding proposed separation distances. One commenter requested clarification regarding whether uninvolved public includes spectators.
The commenters note the Edition of NFPA , Code for High Power Rocketry, specifies differing minimum separation distances for spectators and participants that relate to the classifications of rocket motors. Commenters recommended the FAA adopt the NFPA standards that establish minimum separation distances between the launch point, spectators, and other exposed elements of the public. In developing this proposal, the FAA considered amateur rocketry events and participants involved, their families and friends, and a few casual spectators.
Various rocketry groups do not include spectators in the 1, feet separation distance for persons or property not associated with the operations. In fact, the Edition of NFPA recognizes this disparity by providing separation distances for spectators and participants that are less stringent than the existing FAA requirement.
However, we do not intend to encourage the presence of large crowds of spectators close to the launch because their presence would pose a significant threat to those spectators. Most commonly launched amateur rockets are small and their hazards typically are also small.
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While there have been no reported accidents associated with launches of larger amateur rockets, the risk associated with a large amateur rocket launch could be considerably greater. Participants and spectators, clearly associated with the activity, are not required to comply with the specified separation. The FAA routinely attaches conditions to certificates of waiver or authorization for larger amateur rocket launches specifying separation distances greater than 1, feet applicable to spectators and persons not associated with the operation.
Generally, those engaged in amateur rocket activities have applied the meters 1, ft. Current amateur rocket activities, especially those under the auspices of various rocketry associations, have not resulted in harm to persons not associated with the operations. The FAA believes the 1, feet separation distance has served a useful purpose, and we retain this separation minimum in the final rule for High-Power Rockets and Advanced High-Power Rockets.
In consideration of the comments recommending the FAA adopt the NFPA separation distance requirements, we will require an additional separation distance from any person or property not associated with the operation. This decision is based on the minimum site dimensions provided in NFPA In the regulation, we instead specify this as an equivalent separation distance assuming the launch location is in the center of the site.
This minimum separation distance is equal to one quarter of the expected maximum altitude or meters 1, ft. Under normal conditions, this requirement will be adequate to protect public safety. When greater separation distances are required to protect spectators, the FAA will specify additional operating limitations in any certificate of waiver or authorization it may grant. The FAA believes its principal responsibility is to protect those individuals and property not associated with the launch.
The rationale for this different approach reflects the good job rocketry associations do in protecting spectators. Usually, spectators viewing amateur rocket launches are more closely associated with the operations than those viewing FAA-licensed launches and do not have as great a potential for a catastrophic accident, such as loss of life or serious injury.
The NAR supported this requirement. We received no other comments on this proposal.
The FAA proposed that no person may operate a High-Power Rocket unless reasonable precautions are provided to report and control a fire caused by rocket activity. Conversely, the ROC does not believe this provision is necessary or appropriate for codification. We disagree. This requirement is consistent with our mission to ensure the safety of any person or property not associated with the operations. In developing the proposed rule, our goal was to eliminate duplicate requirements imposed by other Federal agencies or state or local governments.
For example, this proposal contains no explicit requirements concerning hazardous materials because other Federal and local laws are applicable. It would not supersede any other laws or ordinances. Operators of high-power and advanced high-power rockets would be required to take reasonable precautions to control and report a fire.
Additionally, operators would comply with local ordinances as applicable, because a fire in some of the remote areas where amateur rocket launches occur could have serious consequences. The FAA proposed additional operating limitations for Advanced High-Power Rockets to ensure air traffic is not adversely affected and public safety is not jeopardized. We proposed that FAA Air Traffic Control ATC must receive notice requirement information no less than 24 hours before and no more than 3 days before the amateur rocket activities take place.
Three commenters expressed concern that this proposed rule means a temporary flight restriction TFR must be in place before an amateur rocket launch can occur. Another commenter questioned the necessity of collecting personal information about amateur rocket operators and requiring operators to apply for a certificate of waiver or authorization before conducting amateur rocket activities.
Operators must still notify ATC no less than 24 hours before amateur rocket activities begin. Because we did not propose any changes, any ban on the use of TFRs for amateur rocket activities is outside the scope of this rulemaking. However, the title was changed to include ATC notification for all launches. The information must be provided at least 45 days before the proposed operation. Previous sponsors of launch activities have submitted distances along a VOR radial to describe their location.
An individual commenter noted that his organization has provided latitude and longitude coordinates in its certificate of waiver or authorization applications. According to this commenter, its organization has been asked to give the location as a VOR radial and distance. These commenters suggest there are other acceptable methods to locate a launch pad, such as checking distance along a VOR radial. We find that latitude and longitude coordinates provide the most accurate method of fixing an exact location. Further, a latitude and longitude location is consistent with FAA charting practices.