Welcome to your Weekly UAS News Update, the New Year's Edition. Let's take a look at everything that happened this year, including drones for good, the “Don't Be That Guy” compilation, drone regulation, Pilot Institute updates, and new drones.
New Drones in 2023
New drones, like Autel's new Evo Max, the newly released Pelican cargo drone, and a soon-to-be-released new drone from Brinc with the date of 3/2/2023. Finally, DJI released the DJI Inspire 3 after years of anticipation.
This thing right here is the DJI Mavic 3 Pro, and that brings it to a total of eight different variants. The new DJI Matrice 350, the Air 3, the Fly Cart 30, the Skydio X10, the new DJI Mini 4 Pro, the DJI Matrice 3D, and the Dock 2.
Drones for Good in 2023
We've been talking about these for a couple of weeks now. We also reported on some “drones for good” stories this year, starting with a teenager who saved people in their car.
18-year-old Josh Log was flying his drone for recreational purposes when he noticed that there was a car inside a sinkhole. The first responders arrived quickly, and they used Josh's truck to pull the car out of the water.
Amazon has announced that they will be delivering medicine. Prime Air is aiming to transport medicine to homes within 60 minutes of ordering, including over 500 medications for the flu, asthma, and pneumonia.
The company called Data Blanket, whose mission is to use AI to fight woodland fires, is a great initiative for areas prone to wildfires.
Fifty-five drones responded to cardiac emergencies. The drones responded to 72 emergencies, and the study found that the drones had a much quicker response time from dispatch to arrival on the scene.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2023
Of course, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was front and center in many of our stories this year, as well as some states, including Tennessee, which banned non-NDA drones.
A frustrating development was a Tennessee bill that would ban state and local agencies and law enforcement from purchasing or using drones and telecommunication equipment.
Another country of origin ban for public safety in Arkansas. Law enforcement will have four years to phase out the use of their foreign drones.
You can now fly at night in controlled airspace. Some of you might not have known that you couldn't do that before, but now you can request LAANC at night.
The bill is titled the American Security Drone Act of 2023. Very concerning, a bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives to completely ban DJI. This ban would prohibit anyone from operating a DJI drone or a transmission system in the United States.
Yet again, we have a new bill that would prohibit the federal government from purchasing Chinese drones. There's an update on the Part 137 approval process, which covers agricultural spraying with an aircraft.
Bill Nolan, the acting FAA administrator, has announced his resignation from the agency starting this summer. We have a new acting FAA administrator, her name is Polly Trottenberg.
A possible FAA administrator, Mike Whitaker, had his confirmation process go smoothly.
There's new FAA guidance about federal preemption. The US House of Representatives this time set their sights on Autel Robotics instead of DJI.
The ruling is labeling the Texas drone law, code 423, which used to be unconstitutional, has been reversed.
The FAA Reauthorization Act has been delayed.
Dearest FAA, it looks like we have a change. The FAA has officially decided to delay Remote ID.
The compliance date for everyone else, if you are still able to comply, is September 16th, 2023.
I know you guys wanted me to be an FAA inspector, but this is what you get.
Don't Be That Guy!
Let's not forget about everyone's favorite segment, the “Don't Be That Guy” segment, starting with the guy who flew over the Bengals game in 2022.
Now he's going to be spending all that money defending himself, which he did already in that 40 hours of community service.
There's a drone operator in California who admitted to recklessly flying a drone near aircraft. He came close enough to a nearby blimp to result in the pilot making an emergency landing.
A guy in New Jersey decided to use his drone to drop dye inside a swimming pool. It looks like green dye.
There's a drone that flew over a college football game, resulting in the players being evacuated from the field for unsafe operation of an aircraft in a careless and reckless manner, two counts of aircraft operation without a license, inducing panic by committing an offense with reckless disregard, and disorderly conduct in a physically offensive condition. Yikes, that's a big rap sheet right there.
A man in Florida shot down a Lake County Sheriff's Matrice 300. The man was a 29-time convicted felon and now faces ten years in prison for possession of a firearm and ammunition, which he wasn't really supposed to have.
A man in Missouri allegedly tried to crash his drone into a Police drone. The sheriff's drone was monitoring an area over a citywide power outage when the other drone maneuvered to attack and tried to hit the sheriff's drone.
Please don't be these guys.
There were also a few surprises, with Airmap shutting down their LAANC service.
Amazon having a lot of issues keeping employees on board.
And then also Skydio quitting the consumer drone business.
But on the bright side, we accomplished a lot here at Pilot Institute.
We partnered with influential drone unmanned tactical group and also Axon Air to provide even more training for our customers.
We received our BVLOS waiver and submitted many more waivers that hopefully should be approved early in 2024.
We joined hands with the Drone Advocacy Alliance to help push back on some of the nonsensical anti-drone regulation that we saw pop up in a lot of different places.
We also partnered with Aloft to provide the Airware app, a new app for recreational pilots in preparation for the expected retirement of the current Before You Fly app.
Also, we traveled all over the country to a bunch of different trade shows. We went to the Texas Robotic Summit in Bernard, Texas, Sun and Fun in Lakeland, Florida, AUVSI in Denver, Flight Fest in Ohio, EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, two back-to-back events in Colorado with the Colorado Roundup and also the Colorado Air Show, and finally, the AZ Drone Fest here in Phoenix, Arizona.
We also published a bunch of new courses. 14 new courses to be exact, including eight new courses: the Skydio 2 and Skydio X2 Deep Dives.
We also end up the year having trained 88,000 remote pilots to date. That's right, 88,000! That's a ton, that's actually a lot more than anybody else out there doing training, which we're very proud of.
We have 295,000 students in our system, and we're going to be celebrating 300,000 very soon here.
A total of 506,000, half a million course enrollments, is absolutely amazing.
7.3 million lectures were completed throughout the year. This year alone, 7.3 million, that's one lecture every 4 seconds, which means that one of you watches a lecture every 4 seconds, 24 hours a day, for 365 days a year. That's just astonishing.
We have 30,000 free registration stickers. 37,000 members in our Facebook group.
We also have 128,000 subscribers now on all the different channels, including over 85,000 on this channel that you're watching.
We provided 6,800 wing credits on the FAA safety website. So, a ton of good numbers, and we're really proud of this.
Needless to say, none of this would be possible without all of you. A big thank you for your continuous support.
My team and I certainly appreciate it. We love working with you, creating new courses, answering comments, and interacting with you.
We're not slowing down for 2024. We already have a lot of very cool projects that we're working on.
We're actually hoping to release the very first one later this month in January.
So, you have a great New Year. I'm going to end it right here. Fly safe, and we will see you next year.
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