MPR & FAA Waivers

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TheBru

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I have seen a few places where folks bring up the altitude waiver when talking about MPR launches at a club and I was hoping the collective mind could help clarify something for me.

Why does the waiver matter for LPR and MPR?

According to NAR's own website, which references FAA 14 CFR 101.22 and 101.23, LPR and MPR are considered Class 1 Model Rockets by the FAA and can be launched freely and do not require a waiver. To me, that means that a waiver granted for a club launch is only applicable to the rockets that require a waiver and any LPR / MPR can be flown regardless of whether it stays under the waiver or not.

Is there something I am missing?


Class 1 Model Rockets
Class 1 rockets include what used to be known as model and large model rockets. They are defined at 14 CFR 101.22 (a) of the regulations and are listed as:

Class 1- Model Rocket means an amateur rocket that:
(1) Uses no more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant;
(2) Uses a slow-burning propellant;
(3) Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic;
(4) Contains no substantial metal parts; and
(5) Weighs no more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces), including the propellant.
Launching large model rockets used to require providing prior notification to the FAA. Now, no such notification is required. So long as the general operating limitations at 14 CFR 101.23 as listed below are followed, they can be launched freely.

(a) You must operate an amateur rocket in such a manner that it:
(1) Is launched on a suborbital trajectory;
(2) When launched, must not cross into the territory of a foreign country unless an agreement is in place between the United States and the country of concern;
(3) Is unmanned; and
(4) Does not create a hazard to persons, property, or other aircraft.
(b) The FAA may specify additional operating limitations necessary to ensure that air traffic is not adversely affected, and public safety is not jeopardized.
 

heada

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There isn't an FAA limitation on altitude for class 1 rockets (waiver) but there could be a limitation based on launch site dimensions. Since you have to recover within the launch site, the club could limit altitude to ensure that. Its a NAR safety limitation, not a FAA limitation. Waiver isn't the best term to use for it. And you might be able to convince the club to allow higher flights if you can ensure recovery within the site by using dual deploy or a chute release or something else like that.
 

dpower

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I have seen a few places where folks bring up the altitude waiver when talking about MPR launches at a club and I was hoping the collective mind could help clarify something for me.

Why does the waiver matter for LPR and MPR?

According to NAR's own website, which references FAA 14 CFR 101.22 and 101.23, LPR and MPR are considered Class 1 Model Rockets by the FAA and can be launched freely and do not require a waiver. To me, that means that a waiver granted for a club launch is only applicable to the rockets that require a waiver and any LPR / MPR can be flown regardless of whether it stays under the waiver or not.

Is there something I am missing?
Not "any LPR/MPR" - Still needs to be below the 1500 g limit, and <= 125g propellant.
 

cerving

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Note that the NAR/NFPA model rocket definition also restricts the maximum thrust per motor to 80 n-s. An Aerotech G138 motor is not a model rocket motor by that definition, however a G80 is. The FAA doesn't care about maximum thrust... just the rocket's weight and the propellant weight.
 

BEC

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...Cris, that's average thrust, at least in the motor rating numbers, not maximum.

There is nothing in definition of a model rocket in 14 CFR 101.22 about thrust. So that distinction has no bearing, so far as I can tell, on whether a waiver is required. It DOES have a bearing on whether you need a level 1 certification to purchase a G138 or not (or my favorite CTI G88 Smoky Sam).

14 CFR 101 said:
§ 101.22 Definitions.
The following definitions apply to this subpart:

(a) Class 1 - Model Rocket means an amateur rocket that:

(1) Uses no more than 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant;

(2) Uses a slow-burning propellant;

(3) Is made of paper, wood, or breakable plastic;

(4) Contains no substantial metal parts; and

(5) Weighs no more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces), including the propellant.
 
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BBrown

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I have seen a few places where folks bring up the altitude waiver when talking about MPR launches at a club and I was hoping the collective mind could help clarify something for me.

Why does the waiver matter for LPR and MPR?

According to NAR's own website, which references FAA 14 CFR 101.22 and 101.23, LPR and MPR are considered Class 1 Model Rockets by the FAA and can be launched freely and do not require a waiver. To me, that means that a waiver granted for a club launch is only applicable to the rockets that require a waiver and any LPR / MPR can be flown regardless of whether it stays under the waiver or not.

Is there something I am missing?
While you are technically correct that a MPR doesn’t have to stay inside a club’s waiver, don’t be surprised if the launch organizers do not allow you to fly above their waiver ceiling. Here’s why. When a club activates a waiver, it usually done by coordinating by phone with the FAA air traffic control facility in charge of the airspace over the launch site. They know that rockets are flying there and how high they might be going to. Any IFR aircraft will be vectored around that cylinder if their altitude is equal to or less than the waiver altitude. Aircraft flying higher will be allowed to cross over the launch site because the FAA believes no rockets will be going above the waiver ceiling.
Then comes the guy who wants to fly a “unrestricted” Class 1 flight out the top of the waiver. While it may be legal, no one I know who is a waiver holder would allow it to happen on the off chance it “might” conflict with traffic, upset the FAA, and put their waiver at risk resulting in another loss of flying field.
Years ago when I became the prefect of the Kloudbusters I had one goal. Put simply, I didn’t want to be the last prefect of the Kloudbusters! I didn’t want to be the guy who approved something that would put our field at risk. There is no flight that is more important than the field.
Bob Brown
 
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samb

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THIS, THIS, THIS ! ☝☝☝ Being technically right in this hypothetical case isn’t worth the risk of losing a flying field. If we were reported I just don’t think arguing the point of class 1/class 2 model rocket distinctions would be a winning strategy.
I think that all flights at a waivered launch must respect the waiver. And I’m not anxious to test any “legal” theories in an actual dispute with the FAA.
 
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BEC

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Absolutely agree with Bob Brown above. No launch organizer in his or her right mind would want to bust the waiver, even if, technically, the model in question isn’t subject to the waiver at a given launch/site. ”There is no flight more important than the field” indeed!!

And apologies for wasting everyone’s time posting the Class 1 rocket definition again....I should have read what was already here more closely.
 

TheBru

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THIS, THIS, THIS ! ☝☝☝ Being technically right in this hypothetical case isn’t worth the risk of losing a flying field. If we were reported I just don’t think arguing the point of class 1/class 2 model rocket distinctions would be a winning strategy.
I think that all flights at a waivered launch must respect the waiver. And I’m not anxious to test any “legal” theories in an actual dispute with the FAA.
Apologies for being pedantic, but when it comes to the letter of the law, aren’t technicalities the thing that matters?

In a less argumentative sense I think those are reasonable points for why a club would choose to hold everyone to the same waiver.
 

tsmith1315

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Technicalities may matter to the law, but not to most landowners. They're the ones who say nay to flying anymore when they hear the word liability.
 

samb

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Apologies for being pedantic, but when it comes to the letter of the law, aren’t technicalities the thing that matters?

In a less argumentative sense I think those are reasonable points for why a club would choose to hold everyone to the same waiver.
No worries, it's not like this topic hasn't been brought up before. I agree that technicalities matter. I just think that in this case the technicalities might favor the pilot reporting a smoke trail coming his way in an area outside my waiver. As the person who deals with the FAA for my club I choose not to be in a position to have to make the argument that it was just a class 1 rocket.
 
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Bat-mite

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Apologies for being pedantic, but when it comes to the letter of the law, aren’t technicalities the thing that matters?
One time when I was a teen, I was going to cross a street with my dad. A car was coming, but I was in a crosswalk and I knew that the car legally had to stop. My dad grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back. I asked, "Why did you do that? I was in the right." And he said, "True, but you don't want to be dead right."

I guess that's a long way of saying, better to be safe than to be technically right but in trouble.
 

TheBru

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One time when I was a teen, I was going to cross a street with my dad. A car was coming, but I was in a crosswalk and I knew that the car legally had to stop. My dad grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back. I asked, "Why did you do that? I was in the right." And he said, "True, but you don't want to be dead right."

I guess that's a long way of saying, better to be safe than to be technically right but in trouble.
I don't disagree with the whole "better safe than sorry" mentality when it comes to safety but this issue seems less about safety and more about caution. If the FAA already gave its approval via class 1 rules, the field owner has also given approval to fly, and all other safety requirements are met, then why restrict it? It would seem that everyone has given approval to do it.
 

Bat-mite

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I don't disagree with the whole "better safe than sorry" mentality when it comes to safety but this issue seems less about safety and more about caution. If the FAA already gave its approval via class 1 rules, the field owner has also given approval to fly, and all other safety requirements are met, then why restrict it? It would seem that everyone has given approval to do it.
Spirit of the law, rather than letter of the law? I don't know. There are laws, there are NAR/TRA guidelines, there are clubs rules. A club with a 15k waiver could at some point say, "No flights over 10k today," and that would be the rule for all members, regardless of the law. There's no law against sparky motors on a hot, dry day, but many clubs disallow them on such days.

I have no dog in this fight. I think we should obey our club rules even if/when the law is more lenient.
 

HHaase

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Apologies for being pedantic, but when it comes to the letter of the law, aren’t technicalities the thing that matters?

In a less argumentative sense I think those are reasonable points for why a club would choose to hold everyone to the same waiver.
Technically you could say a MPR/LPR busting the waiver is permitted as it's not a rocket that qualifies for the limitation, provided it's still within the class-1 definition. So at current there may not be a legal or regulatory issue, it's an un-tested legal area to my knowledge. But this is the FAA we're talking about, and it wouldn't take much for them to over-react and drop a massive brick of new regulations down on us. The AMA learned that the hard way, and rocketry has had its share of fights with alphabet agencies in the past as well.

Rocketry is, for the most part, self-regulated, but that's only because our track record says we're capable of performing that self regulation. Right now the FAA regulations basically say they don't see a need to regulate class-1 rockets at all. If we start playing in the grey areas and doing things that are permissible only based on a technicality, as opposed to good practice, the walls start to get really cramped really quickly.

It's nice that the lawyers in the hobby are asking things along the lines of "How do you think this would fly on an H123", as opposed to "can you recall the events of June 12th?"
 

tsmith1315

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I don't disagree with the whole "better safe than sorry" mentality when it comes to safety but this issue seems less about safety and more about caution.
Exactly.

Once you've had a great flying field taken away over landowner caution and you can't fly HPR at all for a few years, you'll understand.

Most flying fields are business properties. Using it is a privilege, not an entitlement. We should treat it that way and err on the side of caution.
 

TheBru

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Exactly.

Once you've had a great flying field taken away over landowner caution and you can't fly HPR at all for a few years, you'll understand.

Most flying fields are business properties. Using it is a privilege, not an entitlement. We should treat it that way and err on the side of caution.
Apologies if it ever appeared I was insinuating that use of a field isn't a privilege, because it is. I fly on a field where I have received landowner permission and I can only do so when they are not using it for their needs. I follow both the FAA rules and their rules.

I guess its more that I see a lot of "rules" being thrown around in TRF that don't actually appear to be rules and for this one specifically it sounds like everyone just goes with caution but no one has asked their landowner. Who knows, if you ask they may be good with it and then suddenly you have a new group of rockets that could be flown and potentially new members to have join. Rules are great and all, Ive lead safety teams and have done more SOx compliance work than I would care to admit so I get it, but if you read enough on TRF you find stories of how it was in the "old days" and clearly the things done today are not the same as what was done then, the hobby and its rules have changed, I assume, because people were willing to ask questions and not just settle with what was there. Yes, some rules restrict what was done in the past but other rules have made it possible to do things that weren't possible back in the day.

But hey, these are just my thoughts as I consider joining NAR / TRA. Right now I see now reason to join or to go to a club since I'm not currently looking to cert L1. If clubs were more favorable for LPR / MPR then I might be more open to it but I see no value for me at this time.

Edit: clarification
 

samb

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TheBru, have you already determined that the clubs in your area have waivers lower than what you typically fly on your own ? In any case I'd encourage you to visit the locals when you can to continue the discussion.
 

dr wogz

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All rules & laws exist for a reason. and many come form an "Oh, we didn't expect that / this.." And the rule / laws is required to ensure compliance / safety / understanding.

But one thing I've learned recently (And have formed a 'life mantra' around):
Its one thing to follow the rule / law (blindly, because you are 'supposed to')
it's another to understand why the rule / law is created & applied.

I find a lot just follow the rule / law.. And some then complain about it, without any understand of the 'why'.. Once you understand the 'why', its then easier to apply / follow..
 

TheBru

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TheBru, have you already determined that the clubs in your area have waivers lower than what you typically fly on your own ? In any case I'd encourage you to visit the locals when you can to continue the discussion.
Unfortunately I have not been able to find an active club in Maine. Once the country is in a better place and interstate travel is easier I will start looking into traveling for launches but at that point the ROI hurdle is a bit higher, esp if I'm not ready to cert. I do respect that there is bound to be an aspect of camaraderie and knowledge sharing but that can be hard to do one weekend a month, at best, when you take travel into consideration.

The question was sparked mostly because I've seen a few posts where people blanket say things can't be done because of the waiver and I wanted to better understand that.
 

heada

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Rocketry, and most things in life, work on a most restrictive set of rules. This means that if there are multiple levels of restrictions, you have to take the combination of the most restrictive set of them.

Federal level (FAA) allows class 1 with no altitude restrictions
State level (state fire marshal/NFPA/etc.) may have restrictions
Local level (city/county/etc.) may have restrictions
NAR/TRA/CAR/other org may have restrictions
Club that is running the launch may have restrictions
land owner may have restrictions.

You have to abide by the most restrictive set of all these and maybe more. Just because the FAA says "go for it" doesn't mean you can bypass any of the others.

And...
FAR 101.21(a) says if you're in restricted airspace, you have to get a waiver regardless.
FAR 101.23(a)(4) says you can't create a hazard to persons, property, or other aircraft.
FAR 101.23(a)(5) says the FAA can add more restrictions whenever they feel they're needed to ensure safety

So even class 1 has some FAA limitations depending on when/where/how you're launching.

TL;DR - abide by the club limitations if you want to fly with that club, even if you don't agree. If you're on your own, you should still look into all the restrictions that apply to you.
 

heada

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Would you please elaborate?
FAR 101.21(a)
(a) This subpart applies to operating unmanned rockets. However, a person operating an unmanned rocket within a restricted area must comply with §101.25(b)(7)(ii) and with any additional limitations imposed by the using or controlling agency.

101.25 is the limitations for class 2/class3(requires a waiver) so if you're in restricted area, even 10' off the ground using a 2oz rocket, you have to get a waiver *and* comply with whatever org controls that airspace (normally military)
 

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Nowhere in what you cited does it indicate that you need a waiver. For Class 1 you need permission, not a waiver.
 

heada

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Nowhere in what you cited does it indicate that you need a waiver. For Class 1 you need permission, not a waiver.
For class1 in a restricted location, you still have to follow the restrictions for class2/3 and if you want to go outside of those, you need a waiver even for class 1. Those restrictions are:

less than 50% cloud cover
more than 5 miles visibility
not into any cloud
not between sunset and sunrise
not within 5nm of an airport boundary
not in controlled airspace
not if there are people/property nearby unless they're 1500' feet away or 25% of the expected altitude
older than 18
no fire risk

If you're in restricted location and any of those apply, then you still need a waiver.
 

Titan II

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Yes, I know you are to comply with the restrictions in 101.25. However, you do not need a waiver. It is best that anyone interested read the actual citations and decide for themself.
 

UhClem

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Someone dropped the ball on that reference to 101.25(b)(7)(ii). This existed in the original final rule published 4 December 2008 but vanished when a technical correction combined a couple of sections. Originally this was:
(7) Unless you observe the greater of
the following separation distances from
any person or property that is not
associated with the operations applies:
(i) Not less than one-quarter the
maximum expected altitude;
(ii) 457 meters (1,500 ft.);
 

Titan II

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Sorta related....

 

steveh.jae

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Unfortunately I have not been able to find an active club in Maine. Once the country is in a better place and interstate travel is easier I will start looking into traveling for launches but at that point the ROI hurdle is a bit higher, esp if I'm not ready to cert. I do respect that there is bound to be an aspect of camaraderie and knowledge sharing but that can be hard to do one weekend a month, at best, when you take travel into consideration.

The question was sparked mostly because I've seen a few posts where people blanket say things can't be done because of the waiver and I wanted to better understand that.
The Berwick sod farm was AWESOME. Too bad it isn’t available any more.
 

shockie

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did somebody say FAA regulations,and every armchair lawyer comes out of the woodwork
There isn't an FAA limitation on altitude for class 1 rockets (waiver) but there could be a limitation based on launch site dimensions. Since you have to recover within the launch site, the club could limit altitude to ensure that. Its a NAR safety limitation, not a FAA limitation. Waiver isn't the best term to use for it. And you might be able to convince the club to allow higher flights if you can ensure recovery within the site by using dual deploy or a chute release or something else like that.
"Since you have to recover within the launch site".... since when has this been required? And how do you enforce it? or for that matter even control it? I think the wind has something to say about this as the models are not very controllable.
 

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