Noob FAA question

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rklapp

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I'm in the process of setting up a large field for a local student chapter. I'm trying to figure out when I need to notify the local FAA about our launches. I got the following info from our local expert but still confusing to me so decided to check here.

(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.

My understanding is that I don't have to notify the FAA if less than 125g propellant and weighs less than 1500g including motor. I've been told that an Aerotech G138 motor is Class 2 but has 70g of propellant. Why? Would I have to notify the FAA for launching a G138? Most H motors have less than 125g of propellent so the same would be for those, right?

Also, what are the restrictions for airports? I don't see any for Class 1 as long as I don't launch within the airfield or the immediate vicinity. The proposed field is over 3 miles from an Army airfield.

§101.23 General operating limitations.
(a) You must operate an amateur rocket in such a manner that it:
(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.

§101.25 Operating limitations for Class 2-High Power Rockets and Class 3-Advanced High Power Rockets.
When operating Class 2-High Power Rockets or Class 3-Advanced High Power Rockets, you must comply with the General Operating Limitations of §101.23. In addition, you must not operate Class 2-High Power Rockets or Class 3-Advanced High Power Rockets—
(e) Within 9.26 kilometers (5 nautical miles) of any airport boundary without prior authorization from the FAA;
(f) In controlled airspace without prior authorization from the FAA;

As you know if you ask the government for permission, they will either say no or tell you you have to get a permit from the President. I'm trying to collect as much accurate information before calling a government official. Any additional advice is appreciated.
 

jimzcatz

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Yea, That army airport is going to be a problem unless you get written permission from them and include that in your waiver application.
(2) Uses a slow-burning propellant; Max average impulse is 80ns. A G80 is fine, but a G138 is not. Sparkie motors also require L1 certification. Good luck.
 

heada

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G138 is considered HPR because it has more than 80 N average thrust. FAA doesn't care about that so it qualifies as not needing an FAA waiver but you have to be HPR L1 or above to use it even though it isn't an H motor or above.

FAA used to have a restriction of 5nm from an airport for class 1 too but I think that was removed when they made class 1/2/3. Instead they use the verbiage of saying just don't cause a hazard to people, property or aircraft. Simply don't fly next to the airport and if you see/hear a plane, stop launching until it passes.

Get land owner permission, fly less than propellant weight, fly less than rocket weight, don't cause a hazard to anyone/anything and enjoy.
 

rklapp

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I don't intend on having to file a FAA waiver so I'm trying to figure out what's the most we can launch. The FAA regulations distinguish between a Class 1/2/3 rocket and NAR/T distinguishes between a Level 1/2/3. I doubt the students will try for more than a Level 2, mostly because it's difficult to ship to Hawaii.

From the graph below, I do not need to notify the FAA or get a FAA waiver if we plan to launch rockets with less than 125g propellent and weigh under 1500g. The G138 has 190N max thrust so HPR and 157Ns total impulse so just under Level 1 and 70g of propellent so not HPR. Do you see my confusion?

1627807502175.png
 

heada

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G138 does not require FAA waiver or notification but does require NAR/TRA L1. If you want to fly L0 (no cert) and no FAA interactions, stay below the FAA propellant level, stay below the FAA total rocket mass and stay below 80N average thrust (G80 basically is your max) and no hybrids or sparkies.

Basically, stay in the green in the chart. If any part of your flight is outside of the green, you have to either get a FAA waiver, be HPR certified or both.

Also get land owner permission and don't pose a hazard to persons/property/aircraft.
 
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Steve Shannon

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Aaron is giving you the right advice. There are three set of rule you must obey, established by three different bodies: FAA, state and local, and organizations (NAR or Tripoli).

FAA rules cover airspace and carry the weight of federal law. They define class 1, 2, and 3 rockets. FAA is only concerned about the entire system which enters airspace.

State and local laws are most often Laws that are established when a government entity (could be a state and/or a city) adopts the rules suggested within NFPA sample codes 1122 and 1127. These define high power rocket motors and form the basis of mandatory safety rules. They care about the difference between model rockets and high power rockets and are most frequently adopted as part of a fire code or possibly municipal codes. They are the reason high power certification is required to buy high power motors, but they do not create the system which is used to certify flyers or the levels of certification.

Finally, there are the organizational rules for NAR or Tripoli. The organizations establish the rules and procedures that determine different levels of certification (Level 1, 2, and 3). Failure to follow these rules can result in being removed from an organization and loss of any insurance coverage provided by that organization.

There is no connection whatsoever between the certification levels established by the organizations and the classes of rockets established by FAA. If you try to equate or conflate them somehow you’ll only confuse yourself.

In order to fly rockets without first obtaining a waiver (Certificate of Authorization) you must stick to rocket and motor combinations which are Class 1.
In order to purchase HPR motors, you must have HPR certification.
In order to be covered by NAR or Tripoli insurance, you must follow all the rules.
 

samb

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Ditto all of the above. The FAA doesn’t care about impulse or cert levels, they care about throw weight. I think your biggest issue is with the airfield. It’s the old “ask permission/beg forgiveness” conundrum. Do you have any personal contacts there ?

The chart is golden.
 

SecondRow

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The G138 has 190N max thrust so HPR and 157Ns total impulse so just under Level 1 and 70g of propellent so not HPR. Do you see my confusion?
Just a minor correction: max thrust isn’t a factor for the test to determine HPR. Average thrust is. In this case, average thrust is 138N, which makes the motor HPR. The test for HPR is an OR test. So long as one of the criteria puts you in HPR, the flight is HPR. Same with waiver determination.


I doubt the students will try for more than a Level 2, mostly because it's difficult to ship to Hawaii.
While there are a few Level 1 motors that have less than 125g of propellant weight, I don’t think there are any Level 2 motors that do. You’ll need a waiver if you fly J or higher.

And Steve Shannon’s post above should be pinned.
 

rklapp

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Got it. 138N is the average thrust. I shoulda looked at the NAR specs instead of Apogee.

I like the advice of G80 or less. If one of the students wants to use bigger than that, they can fill out the app for their own waiver. I still need to convince the land owner to let us use their fallow fields, and we’ll comply with all regulations and proper insurance. I think I have a better idea of what those regulations are.

I still don’t understand if the total impulse of a G138 is 157Ns, which Level is it? Do we round up to 160Ns? (Please avoid the use of bold type.)
 
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Kelly

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I still don’t understand if the total impulse of a G138 is 157Ns, which Level is it? Do we round up to 160Ns? (Please avoid the use of bold type.)
The 157Ns is what makes it a G (barely), which taken by itself would be a "model" rocket not requiring certification to fly, HOWEVER the fact that the average thrust is above 80N means that it IS a high power rocket by NAR standards, and thus requires NAR or TRA Level 1 cert to buy/possess/fly, if you are following NAR/TRA rules. As noted, the FAA doesn't care about impsule or thrust, so it is an FAA Class 1 motor not requiring waiver (assuming it meets the propellant weight restriction). The restrictions noted in the graphic above ALL have to be met, so although it falls into the green on the first line, it goes into the yellow on the fifth line and thus becomes HPR L1.
 

tsmith1315

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QUOTE="rklapp, post: 2164314, member: 32189"]
I still don’t understand if the total impulse of a G138 is 157Ns, which Level is it? Do we round up to 160Ns? (Please avoid the use of bold type.)
[/QUOTE]

I agree, it is confusing. With Kelly's explanation above, you probably have it all figured out now. But for future reference-



Taken from the NAR's High Power Rocketry page:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Where Is The Line Between Model and High Power Rocketry?

A rocket exceeds the definition of a Model Rocket under NFPA 1122 and becomes a High Power Rocket under NFPA 1127 if it:


  • Uses a motor with more than 160 Newton-seconds of total impulse (an “H” motor or larger) or multiple motors that all together exceed 320 Newton-seconds; or
  • Uses a motor with more than 80 Newtons average thrust (see rocket motor coding); or
  • Exceeds 125 grams (4.4 ounces) of propellant; or
  • Weighs more than 1,500 grams (53 ounces) including motor(s); or
  • Uses a hybrid motor or a motor designed to emit sparks; or
  • Includes any airframe parts of ductile metal.

In addition, under FAA rules (FAR 101.22), a rocket exceeds the definition of a Class 1 Model Rocket and becomes a Class 2 High Power Rocket if it weighs more than 1500 grams (53 ounces). For additional information on Class 2 Rockets, see the Understanding FAA Regulations page."
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




-There are a few HPR H-impulse motors which contain under 125g of propellant, thus requiring a Level 1 certification to purchase and fly under NAR/TRA rules, but fall under the limits of FAA Class 1 if the flight weight is no more than 1500g/53 oz.

-There are a few MPR F & G motors which are over 80N-s average thrust, thus requiring a Level 1 certification to purchase and fly under NAR/TRA rules, but fall under the limits of FAA Class 1 if the flight weight is no more than 1500g/53 oz. (CTI has a 24 mm F that exceeds this limit)

-There are MPR motors under 80N-s average thrust, but are "sparky", thus requiring a Level 1 certification to purchase and fly under NAR/TRA rules, but fall under the limits of FAA Class 1 if the flight weight is no more than 1500g/53 oz.
 

Blast it Tom!

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Well, that was educational! Good on you @rklapp for working with students! I hope to do similarly someday here, gotta see how things work out. But while we have the great minds here on legalties, I have a site in mind that has about 2500' one way and 3000' the other as minumum free dimensions. Assuming I was able to secure the owner's permission, what sort of regulations concern flying from a private airfield? It's a grass strip about 25 min. away, close to another family member... Would he have to file a notice with the FAA any time he closed it for us to fly?
 

samb

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… Assuming I was able to secure the owner's permission, what sort of regulations concern flying from a private airfield? It's a grass strip about 25 min. away, close to another family member... Would he have to file a notice with the FAA any time he closed it for us to fly?
If by “he” you mean the field owner then, no he wouldn’t need to do anything. You would need to apply for the FAA authorization for Class 2 flights IF you plan to fly rockets that exceed either the total projectile weight limit or use motors that exceed the total propellant weight limit as outlined in the previous posts.
 
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Blast it Tom!

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if by “he” you mean the field owner then, no he wouldn’t need to do anything. You would need to apply for the FAA authorization for Class 2 flights IF you plan to fly rockets that exceed either total projectile weight limit or use motors that exceed the total propellant limits.
Thanks, Sam. So I could fly "L0" model rockets from the field without telling anyone, just check for planes? The field is shown on the Pittsburgh VFR approach charts...
 

rklapp

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Thanks, Sam. So I could fly "L0" model rockets from the field without telling anyone, just check for planes? The field is shown on the Pittsburgh VFR approach charts...
I think heada expressed it well below. My understanding is that it's now Class 2 that requires FAA approval within 5nm. For Class 1, it's a matter of don't be a dick and be aware.

FAA used to have a restriction of 5nm from an airport for class 1 too but I think that was removed when they made class 1/2/3. Instead they use the verbiage of saying just don't cause a hazard to people, property or aircraft. Simply don't fly next to the airport and if you see/hear a plane, stop launching until it passes.

Get land owner permission, fly less than propellant weight, fly less than rocket weight, don't cause a hazard to anyone/anything and enjoy.
 

Blast it Tom!

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Ok, thanks, @samb & @rklapp. I just want to make it clear that is not just a field; it is a private airfield or private airstrip, listed one the FAA VFR approach chart for PIttsburgh Int'l Airport. But wow would it be nice to have that much open space, that close. PSC's field is at least an hour away and though it is nice, I can't see getting there very often. Plus, if the owner was agreeable, it'd make a nice "in-between" field for Tripoli and PSC. Pipe dream for now, but the more I know about what it takes, the better.
 

heada

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If it's listed on a sectional, then it is an airport regardless of size and has to be treated as such. I've never had to setup launching from an airport but others have so it is possible. Not sure what special rules apply.
 

Sandy H.

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First off, the bar chart posted in post #5 is awesome. If it was your original creation or a repost from a resource, I don't care - I think it is a good way to visualize the rules. This is the first time I've seen it and I have saved it locally for future reference.

Secondly, when I moved to the Charlotte region, I assumed I could never fly rockets again, as 'I was too close to the airport.' I've never been really close to the airport (15-20 miles) but the planes flew over my house, so I figured it was a no-go. When I found a club locally, I started flying with them and had written off 'lone wolf' launches because I knew if I followed NAR and club rules at the club site, I was safe. No need to learn more.

Given recent (2020) issues, I wish I would have educated myself a little better, because I would have liked to know I was clear to go fly an F with landowner permission, but I just never was sure, so I bailed out and didn't fly rockets at all.

I hope this thread can both answer the OP's question clearly and also give a summary version of the rules so a person like me who has been tentative to learn the details vs. 'just give up' can have a template to learn and succeed.

Great thread!

Sandy.
 

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Yes, you *can* fly from an airport. We've flown from at least two. Our* "home base" is the airport at Sayre, OK. We fly high power, with a waiver to 16.5k AGL. We file a NOTAM with the FAA and notify the Air Force at Atlus when we launch (both occasionally reply with confusion as to why we're calling them, but just let it lapse ONCE and see who catches hell).

*Tripoli Oklahoma
 

rklapp

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Yes, you *can* fly from an airport. We've flown from at least two. Our* "home base" is the airport at Sayre, OK. We fly high power, with a waiver to 16.5k AGL. We file a NOTAM with the FAA and notify the Air Force at Atlus when we launch (both occasionally reply with confusion as to why we're calling them, but just let it lapse ONCE and see who catches hell).

*Tripoli Oklahoma
How far away are you from Atlus?
 

samb

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I
First off, the bar chart posted in post #5 is awesome. If it was your original creation or a repost from a resource, I don't care - I think it is a good way to visualize the rules. This is the first time I've seen it and I have saved it locally for future reference.
...
Just as a matter of historical reference the HPR pdf and chart was originally built by our friend Doug Sams. He's been absent lately enjoying Grandpa life but he left his mark. :)
 
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