This week in Drone News, we have three stories for you. An IACRA glitch that caused let’s call it mayhem. Arizona and Iowa bills are trying to make flying a drone over houses, a felony. And then finally, the American Security Drone Act of 2023 is in Congress. So let’s talk about all this.
Your first story this week is IACRA, which is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificate application website. Had a technical issue this week that caused applications to be deleted. That is not good.
This means that if you registered for IACRA for a new account between February 26 at 11:45 PM Central and 5:30 PM on February 28th, you will need to create a new IACRA account
And to complicate the matters, FTN numbers that have been created meanwhile during that time. Which means that if you took the FAA written exam, and you put that. I’m going to call it the old FTN number that was assigned to you. It’s likely been assigned to somebody else meanwhile.
And by creating a new IACRA account, you’ll be given a new FTN number, which unfortunately won’t match with the FTN that you may have on your written exam.
So, this is a massive mess. Unfortunately, we had a few students reach out to us because it happened to them. So if this applies to you, make sure that you contact the IACRA help desk because well, when you submit your application, you’re not going to be able to attach that written exam to the application because it’s not going to match those two IACRA numbers. Big mess. I hope you guys figure it out.
Arizona and Iowa drone bills
And our second story this week is actually a double story. We’re going to be talking about two bills. One of them happened in Iowa and one happened in Arizona where we are based.
And to discuss the Iowa one, I’m actually bringing a guest today. Ken Sherman is a Part 107 Pilot in Iowa and got pretty involved with this, bill has been giving us updates, and so I decided to bring him on the show. Ken, welcome to the show.
Ken: Thank you, Greg. Good to be here.
Greg: Yeah. You’ve been providing a lot of updates on social media and appreciate that for sure. Vic was the one who actually mentioned that to me and Vic Moss. And can you tell us maybe a little bit about what this bill was proposing to do, and then we’ll go into a little more of the details after that.
Ken: Sure. So, the bill was something that came out that was a bill that was proposed to keep and prevent unmanned aircraft from flying over certain properties. And, as it was defined, it would prevent people from flying over what they defined as a homestead and a farmstead. And so one of the litmus drivers behind this was drones being flown over animal confinement areas.
One of the fallouts of having this is that the homestead is defined, also impacts people in residential areas where houses are very crowded together. And the endgame of this, if passed as is, would prevent most commercial drone pilots whoever happening because they would be illegal in doing things like flying over property edges for 3D mapping farm fields. And that sort of thing, where you do need to pass over boundaries to get the complete picture. So, that’s the kind of short just of it.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. And these are bills that we’ve seen happen in the past as well with other states. I know Texas had one for a while that was overturned eventually. Obviously, this sounds a whole lot like the state or municipalities are trying to control the airspace, which we know it is. Is a big no-no. So, can you tell us how you got involved with this? You’re a Part 107 pilot. What do you do exactly? As far as services?
Ken: Yeah. So, I’m a, I own a small business. I have with my wife for seven years now. I do two things, software consulting, and also I do aerial photography and videography as part of my business. So, it’s very important for us to be able to have unfettered access to the airways as well in our local area. I think. In our group that covers the whole state. We’ve got about 1600 members in our Facebook group. So, they’re very in tuned with drone activities and the needs for them and that sort of thing. And I think it was about Sunday night, late in the evening one of our, one of our pilots, Danziger (?) got messaged that this award, that this was happening. And there were some texts started going around, and by the next morning we were coalescing around this, trying to find out what was needed to happen. Formed a group to go in and testify at the subcommittee meeting on Tuesday morning of this week. It’s all happened quickly and we’ve had a good group of people who have been able to coalesce around this and start putting up a defense against.
Yeah. What you find and what we hadn’t really, I, personally, didn’t account for, wasn’t thinking about is that in the Metro Des Moines area, we’ve got several nationally located insurance companies. Nationwide’s one of ’em, they do a lot of real estate assessments from the air. And the folks that also came to bat were people like them who said that we need to do this to keep our business going.
That’s the way we do this today. We’re in urban areas where we need the ability to go in and fly over other people’s rooftops. One of the issues in the bill was that I think they had a clause in there that said, you can fly over this land as long as you’ve got permission. And so one of the topics talked is that to get permission in a neighborhood of a full square block, you’ve got maybe 50 houses. The time to do this will be impossible. And there are other things, consequences of even thinking about the simple thing of getting permission, that become roadblocks.
Greg: Absolutely. So, you guys went to the meeting on Tuesday. How, what was the reception on the other side from the bill creator?
Ken: The folks with the bill I think were very largely putting on their poker faces. They were receptive of things, and we took the approach of let’s educate, and we brought up things where today we’ve got a really good budding drone industry in the state. You got to keep in mind that this is a bill that is largely based off folks coming from the rural areas that depend on the farm economy.
And so, we took the approach that lets talk to them about things in the farm economy that today are happening because of drones that are really benefiting them. And we talked about the things about aerial mapping that’s used in precision farming today. Things like aerial spraying of crops, that sort of thing. And we actually had people show up in our group who actually are TSDs for a couple of large companies that are doing the aerial mapping and testified to the impact on their businesses and the need to be able to fly over farm boundaries. We had a number of other people in the industry who are currently successfully running businesses that need these things to happen that were able to speak to this. I think, by and large, I think most of the people on the committee understood this. We actually had one committee member that even after testimony for an hour from all the other concerns who were supportive of keeping the drone industry alive and moving forward, that did not grasp it. There are some challenges there.
Greg: Interesting. So, what’s the what’s the next step now for the bill? Is there, are they going to go back to draft and resubmit something?
Ken: Yeah. In the state this coming Friday is what’s called the Funnel Deadline. And if bills don’t make it out of committee, they don’t move forward for the rest of the year. And they’re tabled, basically. And their first objective was to get it out of committee. And I believe the vote that they took was to get it out of committee. And so, it’s met that threshold and their act is to go and take amendments to it and debate it on the floors, both house and Senate type of thing.
What we don’t know is timelines on when those things will happen. Those are things we need to get our arms around and what offers are being, amendment are being made and we need to contact legislatures and get some notions of that and provide input on those type of things that probably would be useful for us. Those are the first steps. Yeah, there’s more than that.
Greg: We’re actually facing the same thing here in Arizona. Which I’m going to talk about next in this story, but pretty much exactly the same bill it looks like. And they’re trying to prevent drone pilots from flying over anybody’s property.
Was there any mention of the word surveillance being added to any of this, which we’ve seen?
Ken: So, that’s an excellent point. I’m glad you brought that up. In reality, the bill is labeled, I’m trying to remember this off the top of my head. It defined two different things.
One is an unmanned aircraft, and those aren’t quite the terms that they used.
But the other one is they define surveillance. And they define that as anything that’s, that is a camera and can fly over property basically.
And so, what they legitimately did is went and categorized as every drone operation as a surveillance operation. And if you crossed the property line, you would be, it would be criminalized as, I can’t remember quite exactly, but I think it was at least a misdemeanor and the penalties were fairly high.
Greg: Yeah. And that’s unfortunate because of the surveillance thing. Is something that I think is important to the industry, that we have a surveillance class so that drones are not used to do this type of activity. But once you define surveillance as any flight, then it definitely becomes a major issue.
How can people that are watching this, which I’m sure a lot of them will be in the area, how can they help? What do you need on your side to continue fighting this?
Ken: What we can do is provide you with a link to some of our Facebook groups and other content where we can provide. Information because I don’t have that off the top of my head. But there are legislatures that can be written to very effectively, I think.
That type of info probably would be very helpful at this point in time. More people speaking up on the need for this type of thing. I think the other thing that I would caution people to do is this stuff just comes out of nowhere. There’s no way that you can keep your eyes and out and available anywhere. So, you got to really be on the ball, have people looking for this stuff, and really be engaged in the community.
That’s the one way that we’ve got the ability to help.
Greg: Do you have any attorneys in your group that are helping with any of this?
Ken: I’ve been in touch with a number of folks at the national level, and we’re starting to try to locate somebody who is a also a pilot. Okay. So, it’s in the works.
Greg: Okay. Awesome. We’ll put links down in the description. Therefore, if you live in Iowa, and you’re willing to help or even a neighboring state, and you do work in that area, in that state, then make sure that you reach out to Ken and to the group. And hopefully, we can squash that and do the same here in Arizona, quite frankly.
Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for getting involved with this. Please keep us posted because I think this affects potentially more people across the country if one of these states can implement something like this. If you see something, say something. We have many students sending us messages from time to time when this stuff happens. Ken, again, thank you for your time, and we’ll be in touch. Thank you.
Ken: All right. Thank you too, Greg.
American Security Drone Act of 2023
And your final story this week is yet another bill. Yeah, I know a lot of bills this week. This one is in the US Senate. The bill is titled the American Security Drone Act of 2023 which would prohibit federal departments and agencies from purchasing and using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufactured and assembled in countries identified as a security threat.
Now, the bill will also prohibit the use of federal funds, grants, or contracts from purchasing the drones on the newly proposed list.
Now, I’m not quite sure, quite frankly, how different this is from the current law that prohibits the federal government from using any of these Chinese made drones, but this might just be an extension or renewal of that bill. So, I’m going to put a link down right here to the DroneXL article if you want to learn more from that.
And if you haven’t seen our latest video reviewing a number of Sunova accessories for the DJI Mini 3 Pro, make sure you head over to this link right here.
Be sure that you actually also subscribe to the channel. We have a very cool new video. That’s queued up for next week when we try to find missing people in the forest around Prescott. This is a very entertaining one. So, see you next week.
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