Welcome to your weekly UAS news update. We have five stories for you this week, and this is going to be a long one, so make sure that you're nice and comfortable and that you have your favorite drink. The new Drone Advocacy Alliance was announced, and we're part of it. I want to talk about this. We have a new FAA administrator nomination, we also have a new PHAK, the Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and then the FAA has been messing up certificates. We'll talk about that, and then lastly, we have a DJI update regarding Remote ID and also the Air 3. So, let's get to it.
Drone Advocacy Alliance
Your first story this week is the DAA, which is the Drone Advocacy Alliance, and we have joined the alliance to make sure that your voices are heard when lawmakers are developing new policies for drones, especially when those policies threaten the safety of the public safety agencies. This comes after a proposed DJI ban that was eventually shut down, but there may be more in the future. So the mission of the DAA is to work with industry stakeholders and also legislators to create an open, safe, and honest U.S. drone market, especially when it comes to drones from different origins. We want to make sure that you can pick the right tool for your operational needs. So we're happy to join others in this, such as the Drone Service Provider Alliance, DroneSense, DroneLink, the Uncrewed Trade Alliance, and then Blue Nose Aerial Imaging, and also DJI in this entire line. If you're interested in learning more, make sure that you visit www.droneadvocacyalliance.com.
FAA administrator nomination
Your second story this week is a possible FAA administrator nomination, yay! The former Deputy Administrator, his name is Mike Whitaker, is expected to be nominated by the president to become the next FAA administrator, according to The Wall Street Journal. The nomination will likely come next week. Whitaker has worked with the FAA under the former FAA administrator, his name was Michael Huerta, from 2013 to 2016. He's worked at United Airlines ensuring regulatory compliance, and then he currently works at a company called Supernoll, which is an EVTOL subsidiary of Hyundai, and he also does regulatory compliance over there. So we'll keep you posted if we hear anything else, but hopefully, we will get somebody in charge of the FAA pretty soon.
New Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
And for your third story this week, we have the FAA yet again. Now in this case, they are releasing a new Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, or the PHAK for short. This is the fourth version of the document since it was created in 2003. At this time, I've gone through all of the 522 pages of the new document. I've compared it to the 2016 version, and I'm actually quite underwhelmed with the new release.
Historically, a new version of the PHAK involves new graphics, new chapters, new explanations, and pretty much a revamp of everything. Sadly, none of this was included in this version. I found that there is only a small addition in Chapter 14, a very few words about Airport clearing, scanning traffic avoidance, and see and avoid, which are important topics, don't get me wrong, but I don't think they warranted a brand new version of the entire PHAK.
The new guidance talks about ADS-B, and then understanding and knowing the limitations of ADS-B, understanding the physical limitations of the human eye, and knowing the aircraft's blind spots. Again, these are not really new concepts, just a way to add them into the knowledge.
Now, I suggest that everyone reads that specific page. It's only one page, really, of new material because it will actually help drone pilots understand what aircraft will do prior to maneuvering, and then also talks about ADS-B In there.
I was actually surprised also that there was no mention of the old, retired advisory circular for weather. They were replaced with a brand new advisory circular, but the document's brand new 2023 PHAK still mentions the old advisory circular. And then also, I think a big oversight, the FAA did not change the NOTAMs' new label as Notice to Air Mission. They still mention Notice To Airmen, despite the change that happened officially in December of 2021. So, I'm not sure what's going on right here, but on page four, if you look at the beginning of the new PHAK, it mentions, “this revision is considered a minor revision”. I would say so! A major revision is underway and is planned for release in June of 2024.
So, I know you're going to ask, if you've bought the old one on paper, can you still use it? Absolutely. In this case, I usually like to tell people to use the newest version that they can, but in this case, it's not worth sending it back to Amazon or getting the new version. Quite frankly, just use the old version for now and then, if you need to buy a new one, I would probably buy the June 2024 version, if it is actually a major revision.
FAA Airman Certification Branch
Alright, your next story this week is this snafu at the FAA Airman Certification Branch. I know we're talking a lot about the FAA this week, but well, they're in the News so let's talk about it. The FAA office is in charge of the pilot certificates and they have been sending the wrong certificate to people. I've never heard of this happening actually before, but after getting several messages from students in our system saying, “I got the wrong card, what do I do?”, we decided to research and then found out that the agency has acknowledged the issue.
If this has happened to you, make sure that you visit the Airman Certification Branch website. I'm going to put a link down in the description right here, and then you can order a new one. They're also going to send you an extended temporary certificate. We emailed back and forth several times with a list of names from our own students to make sure that this could be expedited, and it looks like they've been taking care of it.
New DJI Drones
Alright, finally we have an update on two DJI drones; one is a new drone and one is an old drone with a weird story. But let's talk about the first one. We finally have specs for the leaked Air 3, which is supposed to come out eventually. We don't have a final date at the moment, but it looks like it's going to have a 1/1.3 CMOS sensor on both of the lenses.
It's got a 10-bit G-log HLG. It has DJI O4 transmission, so the OccuSync 4, which is a new system, a 3X telephoto lens along with the 1X. We also have 4K at 60 frames per second on both of the cameras, 48-megapixel cameras on both of them, and then a wide camera that has an F 1.7 and a telephoto that has F 2.8. The flight time looks like it's going to be 46 minutes. Phew, that was a lot of information, and we cannot wait to get our hands on one and hopefully fly it very soon.
DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Remote ID…
So next up, we have the Mavic Pro Platinum. I know this is an old piece of gear, the Mavic Pro Platinum, but it was supposedly Remote ID compliant, and that got everybody very confused, including myself. Why would DJI approve such an old drone, relatively speaking, when they didn't approve some drones in between the Pro Platinum and the newer models?
It was supposed to be Remote ID compliant, but today, as we're recording this, the FAA has said that they are rescinding the approval, and DJI is telling the FAA that the aircraft is actually not Part 89 compliant. Part 89 is where Remote ID lives.
In addition, the person who was listed as the point of contact from DJI said that they actually never submitted the DOC (Declaration of Compliance) submission to the FAA. Now, let's look at this timeline.
On January 19th, the FAA accepted a DOC application from DJI for what's called RID000111, which is the Mavic Pro Platinum. On February 16th, less than a month later, the FAA received communication from DJI stating that that drone is actually not compliant. So, everything that was in that DOC is not compliant with Part 89, and DJI is asking for that approval to be rescinded.
So, DJI does an internal review of the incident, and they determined that the employee listed on the application no longer had Remote ID certification responsibility at the time that the paperwork was submitted, and they said that the employee did not submit that Declaration of Compliance. Fast forward from February all the way to July 12th, which is this week, the DOC has been publicly rescinded by the FAA.
Now, the FAA said that they're continuing to investigate this incident, which seems to us like something really fishy happened. So, let us know what you think happened in the comments, and we'll let you know if we hear more about this issue. But at the moment, if you have a DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, guess what? It is not Remote ID compliant anymore.
Alright, thanks for sticking around. Be sure to check out the live Q&A that we have on Monday. If you have any drone-related questions, we're going to try to answer all of those. And if not, I'll see you next week.
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