Thursday, April 02, 2009

Pat Gordzelik on the new FAA rules

Rocketry Planet has just published Pat Gordzelik's editorial on the FAA's recent changes to their amateur rocketry regulations. The changes went into effect last February. This editorial had previously been published in the February 2009 issue of Rockets magazine. Here is a snippet from my review of that issue:
It [Pat's editorial] confirms what I thought - that, although we mid-power folks made out like a bandit, the results were not as good for high power. For those flying over 'O' power (the new 'Class 3') there will be much larger hoops, which exceed those imposed by the Level-3 certification process. First, you will need clearance of a minimum of a quarter of the expected altitude (1500' feet min.) from roads and any buildings other than those owned by the launch host. This is 0.37 miles for an AGL of 50K'. You will also need wind data through your expected altitude, even though the launch is at least 45 days out. Pat provides some ideas about how to get this info. Next, you'll need 6 Degrees Of Freedom 'splash-pattern' analysis. The only source Pat knows of (and he's one of the 'big dogs' of sport HPR) is RockSim Pro, which costs about a $G. Pat ends with a positive attitude noting the paperwork may prove to be easier than expected and that there are no longer burn-time limits. Finally, if you had a waiver approved under the old rules prior to Feb 2, then you will not have to re-file. I'll end by making one observation. The original NPRM set a higher impulse limit for Class-3 but it was reduced to 'O' impulse after comments from one person. The basis for that comment was TRA's HPR safety code. I hate to say it but that actually sounds like a logical, if not technically sound, basis. Whew, I probably should have made that a separate post.