PSI Testing Troubles, Pearland BVLOS, Bengals Man Guilty, Cell Phone Drone Rescue
This week in drone news, we have four stories for you. PSI issues are resulting in flight training protests, the Pearland BVLOS waiver – that’s a cool story, a Bengals game man pleads guilty, and finally, a rescue that used a drone to send a text, which is another cool story as well. Let’s get to it.
PSI under fire
The first story this week is a big one for those of you involved in any sort of training – airplane training, aviation training, or drone training. PSI, the company that currently holds a monopoly on written tests for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is under fire by large groups such as the EAA and AOPA, among others.
In case you didn’t know, at the beginning of this year, PSI decreased the fee paid to testing centers for completing the exam and cut that by 66 percent, resulting in about $22 going back to the testing center.
As a result, many testing centers have stopped proctoring for PSI, and as we expected, this is beginning to lead to less availability for students to complete their written exams. AOPA and EAA have mentioned that PSI’s customer service was less than stellar, and many issues were left unresolved.
We have actually seen this as well with some of our students who complain about the service they are getting from the company. Yet, the FAA refuses to stop PSI’s monopoly by not allowing new applicants for testing. Let us know if you’ve been impacted by these latest issues, but this is a story that we’re going to keep an eye on, and we’ll keep you updated if anything else becomes available.
Waiver for drone as first responder
Your second story this week is about the city of Pearland, Texas, which is the first to receive a waiver for their Drone as First Responder (DFR) operations to be conducted without a visual observer, which is a really big deal.
The waiver covers 49 square miles near Houston, Texas, and the population is around 125,000 people in that area. Now, if you’re not familiar with this premise, the first responders will be able to respond to 911 calls using a drone to get immediate eyes on and assess the situation, directing the responding police, fire, and EMS crews in order to best handle the situation.
The program uses the Iris Automation Casia G system as a way to meet the see-and-avoid requirements under 91.113. Now, you might be wondering why I quoted Part 91, not Part 107. That’s because these operations are done under a COA for Public Safety, which follows Part 91 rules.
I wanted to personally say a big congratulations to Brendan Carr, who recently retired from the Pearland Department but was instrumental in getting all of this approved. It’s a major accomplishment, so congrats to you, Brandon!
Bengals game drone pilot
Your third story this week is an update on the man who flew over the Cincinnati Bengals game in 2022 and also a man who flew over the Reds game in 2022 as well. Both of them have pleaded guilty for illegal flights in the U.S. District Court of Cincinnati. Sentencing has not been scheduled yet, but the plea deal with federal prosecutors will likely result in about a year of probation and 40 hours of community service.
So, remember to check the TFRs before you do this, don’t be that guy, and if you get caught, don’t be taunting the FAA and others because, well, then you’ll end up in the situation we just talked about.
Saved by a drone
Now, your final story: This one is one that you’ve likely seen, and a lot of our students have sent over to us. An Oregon man was stuck in the snow and used his drone to call for help.
He attached his cell phone to his drone in order to send a text message, and then he flew the drone up so he could get cellular service. Where he was, there was no service, so he decided to go up and get a wider range, and within a few hours, the man was found by the Lake County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue.
This was such an amazing use of the drone. Congrats on thinking about this! We actually think we had a similar story a couple of years ago. I initially thought this was the same story that had resurfaced, but we finally found the source and were able to talk about it, so that’s exciting.
Alright, that’s it, that’s all I have for you this week. As always, like, subscribe, and we’ll see you next week.
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