DSPA’s Vic Moss talks drones, legislation, and joining forces with Drone Advocacy Alliance

DroneXL spoke to Vic Moss from Moss Photography and the Drone Service Provider Alliance about the newly formed Drone Advocacy Alliance to protect the use and choice of drones in the . Here is the interview with Vic in which he explains the need for an alliance such as the DAA and what you can do to help protect the use of drones.

Interview with Vic Moss from the DSPA

How and why did you get involved with the DAA?

DSPA has a limited voice due to its non-profit nature. We don't have the time or money to put something like Drone Advocacy Alliance together. We're a volunteer organization. We saw what the plans were with DAA, and it aligned perfectly with what DSPA was trying to do. A partnership seemed to be perfect. DAA's ability to publish and host the DAA website, combined with DSPA's voice and ability to rally the troops, is a match that can be great for the US .

How is the DAA different or similar to the DSPA?

DAA provides a grassroots platform. DSPA just isn't able to offer that. DAA gives our industry the portal to put a unified voice to work, getting the word out about what so much of the horrid DC legislation will do to our industry. They [legislators] need to know the real-world facts, not the made-up fears peddled by DC Insiders.

The DSPA works directly with . We help out the small and medium-sized DSPs. The DAA brings other end-user verticals, as well as software and educational partners. DAA can expand and unify DSPA's message.

We have seen a number of states take more aggressive steps towards banning government use of foreign-made drones. What states should we pay particular attention to now if we want to act?

I'm not sure what states are planning for next year yet. But I'm sure will try again. I know here in , we'll be working on getting a state preemption plan in place with Drone Prepared.

What can people do in their own state to make sure that foreign-made drone use by government agencies will not be banned?

Pay attention! Keep an eye on their state legislature! Each state has its own schedule and method of introducing and publishing the legislative session's agendas. Drone owners need to take a look at their own state and keep an eye on what bills are being introduced. See if they have a notification service similar to Google Alert.

Also, use https://pluralpolicy.com/open/ to find out who their local reps are in their districts. Reach out to them and introduce yourselves to their reps and set yourself up as industry experts in their eyes. Be known before you need to be known. Reach out to dspalliance.org for advice when they find something.

And organize. Put together drone clubs. Meet regularly. That way, when something does come up (and it will), you have a ready-made ensemble of drone owners at your disposal.

With foreign-made drones being very capable, widely available, and very affordable… what will it take for USA-made drones to be able to compete?

Where to start…

First, there has to be a company step up and design and then build a comparable drone. Then we have to be able to produce it here. We don't have the resources, the parts, the chips, or the production capabilities to meet demand, even if a US company could make a comparable one. Bring back manufacturing to our shores.

This isn't an issue that can be remedied overnight. It can even be remedied in 3 or 4 years. We've made this issue by offshoring manufacturing. Now we need to take it back.

Even if the US drone industry can magically design a comparable drone to DJI or Autel overnight, it would take years for the production capabilities to be ready to meet the demand.

What should we do in the meantime, as the US drone industry is still maturing? Ban Autel and DJI? Phase out DJI drones? Adopt safety standards so that the government can safely use Autel/DJI drones?

If national security is as truly compromised as some in Congress imply (I posit that they actually know it's not), put out a reasonable and achievable set of security protocols that must be met by all drones used by gov't agencies, no matter their source country. No matter who makes an electronic piece of equipment, there needs to be those protocols in place.

Demand the same set of security and data protocols for all manufacturers; then this supposedly National Security/data issue won't be a problem anymore.

And we do need to bolster the US drone industry. We have some great minds here. But they're hampered by regulation and red tape. We can't compete on a level playing field with foreign workers. If the US Congress truly wants to help our industry, they need to offer tax rebates, grants, and other means of monetary assistance to our US-based drone industry. Then they need to hold each and every dollar that has been given to those companies accountable. Those companies cannot be allowed to then turn around and use those funds to lobby Congress to restrict their competitors' access to the US market.

No one wins in that case. The US market has no incentive to do better, and the US drone user, both commercial and recreational, aren't saddled with the extra costs of a failed attempt at tariffs and/or the uncertainty so many of these bills and rumors create. We've all seen the myriad of questions that have been raised by those looking to invest in their companies. When Congress floats these ridiculous bills about banning this drone, or restricting the use of that drone, simply because they are made in , it hurts every small drone business owner in the country. And it hurts the resellers. Why invest 1000s and 1000s of dollars into your business if you're unsure of whether or not you can use the piece of equipment in the future.

And when it comes to bans or restrictions, use some common sense instead of posturing and politics. We know there are places we shouldn't fly drones. Or use our cell phones, for that matter. But a blanket ban is ludicrous beyond the pale. Common sense seems to have become a rare item these days in DC. Maybe this would be a good subject to start the process of bringing it back.

What can we expect from the DAA going forward? What is on the agenda?

The agenda moving forward will be set by the industry partners. If we see an issue that needs to be addressed, we can meet and talk about how that needs to be presented. It's a partner-driven platform, so the only true agenda is giving a platform to the industry so we can move the US sUAS industry forward with as little unreasonable government interference as possible.

Any closing thoughts you'd like to share?

I'd love to add that the argument that it's [restricting the use of foreign-made drones is] “only for government work” is completely false. And likely spread by those who know it's completely false. We're already seeing it [Green sUAS] spread into the private sector. We're also seeing it spread way beyond any reasonable restrictions in the gov't sector. There is no argument against keeping unsecured Chinese drones out of some very sensitive areas. We, as an industry, get that. But the vast, vast, vast majority of current federal and state Chinese drone bans are beyond any reasonable use of logic at all. All of this is predicated on “what could happen” or “potential national security issues.”

When pressed, not a single government official has offered up a shred of actual evidence that this is a real problem. If it truly is, show us.

Until then, politicians need to listen to people who actually know what they're talking about and quit listening to the lobbyists of US drone makers who can't compete on a level playing field. Those companies should spend that money on manufacturing and R&D. You can't elevate an industry by cutting the industry leaders off at the knees. All you're doing is sinking the industry down to possibly unrecoverable levels. And that's not good for the American Drone Service Providers.

All of this uncertainty and politics is hurting small businesses across the country. Congress needs to wake up and realize this. And of the 339,254 Remote Pilots currently listed in the FAA's Active Airmen Registry, the vast majority of those are small businesses and sole proprietors. Those types of companies are the backbone of this nation's economy. These laws and rules concerning Chinese drones have the potential to decimate a projected $30B industry. And those are the government's own numbers.

Get politics out of it, and let's talk about actual security issues and then introduce (and enforce) a set of security and data protocols. That will fix any issues Congress has if they're truly legitimate issues.

Thank you, Vic, for your time, your advice, and the hard work you put into the DSPA, the DAA, and the drone industry in general. It is much appreciated!

DroneXL is a strong proponent of safe and responsible drone flying and of using drones to benefit our society. We advocate for a fair and competitive drone market. We believe in creating safety and standards that any drone manufacturer should be able to meet, no matter in which country they are based. We do not favor any brand, and we will continue to call issues out as we see them.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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