FCC Turns Down Amateur Licensee’s Appeal

In a Memorandum Opinion and Order (MO&O) released on February 20, the FCC turned down an appeal by William F. Crowell, W6WBJ, of Diamond Springs, California, of an Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) dismissal of Crowell’s amateur radio license renewal application. Chief ALJ Richard L. Sippel, ruled in 2018 that Crowell “failed to prosecute his application by refusing to attend a hearing scheduled by the judge,” and that this warranted dismissal of Crowell’s 2007 renewal application. The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau had designated Crowell’s renewal application for hearing based on allegations that he had violated the Communications Act and FCC rules by causing intentional interference and by transmitting one-way communications, indecent language, and music on amateur frequencies. The hearing was set to be held in Washington, DC, and Crowell filed a notice of appearance certifying that he would appear and present his case.The case was interrupted by what the FCC in the MO&O called “a hiatus of several years, during which Crowell’s petition to disqualify the Judge was pending.”

In August 2016, the FCC imposed a $25,000 fine on Crowell for intentional interference and transmitting prohibited communications. The FCC said in a Forfeiture Order (FO) that the penalty “is based on the full base forfeiture amount as well as an upward adjustment reflecting Mr. Crowell’s decision to continue his misconduct after being warned that his actions violated the Communications Act and the Commission’s rules.” The FCC noted that Crowell did not deny making the alleged transmissions but argued in large part that they were protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution,” the Forfeiture Order said. The February 20 MO&O does not reference the Forfeiture Order nor its disposition.

When the renewal application litigation resumed in 2017, Crowell asked that the hearing be moved to the Sacramento, California, area, arguing that he could not afford to travel to Washington. Sippel denied the motion.

“In the Dismissal Order, the Judge responded to Crowell’s refusal to attend a hearing in Washington, D.C., by granting the Enforcement Bureau’s motion to dismiss Crowell’s application,” the FCC said in its MO&O. The ALJ held that Crowell’s refusal to attend a hearing in Washington, DC, “constituted a failure to prosecute and thereby effectively violated Section 1.221(c) of the rules, which requires dismissal if an applicant fails to commit to appear on the date fixed for hearing.” The Judge agreed with the Enforcement Bureau that many of the arguments Crowell raised on appeal “are not properly before us in reviewing the Dismissal Order and should be disregarded.”

Crowell’s amateur license expired in 2007, but he has been permitted, under FCC rules, to operate while his renewal application remains pending.

Upcoming ARRL Section, State, and Division Conventions

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ARRL Website, Other Services to be Offline on February 28

The ARRL website and other online services will be offline on Friday, February 28, for up to 8 hours in order to conduct necessary maintenance. The outage will begin at 0500 UTC and should end by 1300 UTC. Affected will be the main ARRL website, the ARRL Store, and the ARRL contesting-related pages, including the log submission page. Logbook of The World (LoTW), email, and all ARRL Headquarters systems will not be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience.

FAA’s Proposed Remote Identification Rules Would Affect Drones, Hobby Planes

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing to require remote identification of so-called “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS), which include drones and hobby aircraft. A growing number of radio amateurs utilize camera-equipped drones for aerial photography purposes, to examine antenna systems, and to operate hobby aircraft remotely on amateur radio frequencies. Comments on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) in Docket FAA-2019-11, are due by March 2.

“The remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems in the airspace of the United States would address safety, national security, and law enforcement concerns regarding the further integration of

these aircraft into the airspace of the United States while also enabling greater operational capabilities,” the FAA said in proposing the new requirements.

The FAA defines remote identification, or Remote ID, as the ability of an in-flight unmanned aircraft “to provide certain identification and location information that people on the ground and other airspace users can receive.” The FAA called the move “an important building block in the unmanned traffic management ecosystem.”

“For example, the ability to identify and locate UAS operating in the airspace of the United States provides additional situational awareness to manned and unmanned aircraft,” the FAA said. “This will become even more important as the number of UAS operations in all classes of airspace increases. In addition, the ability to identify and locate UAS provides critical information to law enforcement and other officials charged with ensuring public safety.”

The FAA said it envisions that the remote identification network “will form the foundation for the development of other technologies that can enable expanded operations.”

With few exceptions, all UAS operating in US airspace would be subject to the rule’s requirements and would have to comply, “regardless of whether they conduct recreational or commercial operations, except those flying UAS that are not otherwise required to be registered under the FAA’s existing rules.”

To comment, click on the “Submit a Formal Comment” button on the top of the Federal Register page that includes the NPRM text.

WTX Section Manager & WG Director to Visit El Paso

The ARRL West Gulf Director, John Stratton N5AUS, the West Texas Section Manager, Dale Durham W5WI, and the West Texas Emergency Coordinator, David Overton KF5WDJ, are traveling to El Paso to meet with the area hams.

This is a combined meeting of the El Paso Amateur Radio Club (W5ES) and the Sun City Amateur Radio Club (K5WPH).

Details:

– Saturday, February 29th
– Starting at 9 AM
– K5WPH Clubhouse, 3709 Wickham Ave., El Paso, Texas (behind the Walmart on Dyer)

All hams are welcome and encouraged to attend, whether or not you are a member of the ARRL.

This is a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with the regional ARRL leadership, find out what the ARRL is doing, ask questions, voice concerns, etc.

ARRL Podcast Schedule

ARRL’s “On the Air” podcast’s second episode (February 13) focuses on building the ground plane antenna featured in the first issue of On the Air magazine, a discussion of open-wire feed lines, and an interview with a relatively new public service volunteer. New “On the Air podcast episodes are available monthly.

The first episode of the “Eclectic Tech” podcast (February 13) includes a discussion of amateur radio activity on the Qatar-OSCAR 100 satellite, an interview with Assistant ARRL Lab Manager Bob Allison, WB1GCM, about handheld transceiver testing at Dayton Hamvention and other conventions, and an interview with Carl Luetzelschwab, K9LA, about propagation conditions. New episodes will be available biweekly.

Both podcasts are available on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android) as well as on Blubrry — On the Air | Eclectic Tech.