Welcome to your weekly drone News update, Christmas edition. We have five stories this week where Air Aware was released. We have legislators urging the Pentagon to deny export licenses for DJI – that's a troublesome one. Precision Hawk shuts down operations, which is also a concerning development. There's the FAA Authorization Act, which I'll get to, and, more importantly, updates on the DJI Air 3 and the Mini 4 Pro. Let's get started.
Air Aware App
First up this week is a new app called Air Aware. I know what you're thinking: great, another app to keep track of. But yes and no. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is actually discontinuing B4UFly, so rather than losing that resource for recreational pilots, we've partnered with Aloft to sponsor a replacement.
Air Aware is currently very similar to B4UFly, but this is by design to ensure new recreational flyers have access to this resource for the holiday season.
You might be wondering about Air Control from Aloft. Well, that's more of a Part 107 type of app, and the reason why we wanted to create a new replacement for B4UFLY is because recreational flyers have slightly different needs.
They don't need a complex app; they also need to know about regulations that pertain to recreational flying. So, we've decided to turn that app into the recreational app, the beginner's app, if you will.
If you're flying under Part 107 at the moment, don't worry about it too much. But if you're a recreational flyer, that's definitely something you should check out.
If you want to tell us some of your ideas and things that we can improve with the app, we're going to put a link down here to the suggestion form, and then you can tell us what you'd like to see in it.
Lawmakers urge Pentagon to deny export licenses for DJI
Next up this week is a coalition of lawmakers urging the Pentagon to deny export licenses for DJI. If you're not sure what an export license is, it's authorization that grants permission to export specific equipment and information.
It's unclear at this stage how much current DJI products come from US export licenses or if this will affect any of the consumer products, but we'll keep you updated if we hear anything else.
PrecisionHawk files for Bankrupty
The third story is a sad one this week. PrecisionHawk, a Drone Technology company based in Raleigh, North Carolina, has announced that they will cease operations and close their downtown headquarters, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
This means they don't intend to continue operating, as opposed to Chapter 11. The filing shows that they have $3.8 million in assets and $17.5 million in debt, including $250,000 in unpaid rent for the building downtown.
You may not know PrecisionHawk, but you may know their pilot network, which is called Droners.io. PrecisionHawk acquired the network in 2018, and at this stage, it's unclear what will happen to the network, but keep that in mind if you're seeing some drone postings from that specific website. They may or may not continue to operate.
FAA Reauthorization Act that has been delayed
Next up is the sarcasm segment with the FAA Reauthorization Act that has been delayed. I didn't even see it coming.
The US Senate has passed a 3-month extension that will keep the FAA operating until then, but they want more time to figure this out, to do their job and to sign the document.
That last extension comes up right before they have to take their well-deserved time off for the holidays for all the hard work they did last year.
Mind you, the current Reauthorization Act dates back to 2018, and the 2023 version was expected to be passed months ago. But where's the rush?
DJI Air 3 and Mini 4 Pro Firmware Updates
Alright, and finally, for the last segment, let's talk about DJI, which released a new firmware update for the DJI Mini 4 Pro and the Air 3.
This will bring new features that are coming from the DJI Mavic 3 and will be available for both drones, including the VisionAssist. That's a feature that allows the user to see what the obstacle avoidance system is actually seeing.
Both drones are also going to get ActiveTrack 360 Auto, which is a feature that lets the drone fly pretty much automatically, doing active track flights, allowing the users to let the drone be a little creative while it's following different objects.
The Air 3 was already compatible, but now the Mini 4 is as well. So, there are a few more things in here that are a bit more minor, so make sure you read the release note when you install it on your drone.
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas
That's it for this week, but for any of you who are new pilots that are going to be getting a new drone this week, or if you know someone who's getting a new drone, make sure they download Airware, make sure they check the airspace, and make sure they follow the checklist in there.
It's going to show them how to do TRUST, how to get registration done, and how to fly legally, basically. So don't be that guy out there.
And if you're someone who's been flying for a while and you know people who are beginning, just be a mentor to them. That's what we do, obviously, but we're asking you to do the same and help people fly safely out there.
Alright, so I'm going to sign off. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and then we'll see you guys next week for the next news update.
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