Welcome to Weekly UAS News Update. We have four stories for you this week: Remote ID for the DJI Minis, an armed suspect escaped Police after shooting down a drone, a man who faces felony charges after flying over an NFL game, and lastly the Super Bowl. Let's talk about that and well, the drones at the Super Bowl, or lack thereof. Let's get to it.
Remote ID for the Mini 3, Mini 3 Pro, and Mini 4 Pro
First up this week is an update on Remote ID for the Mini 3, Mini 3 Pro, and Mini 4 Pro. Last week, we covered that the DJI's latest firmware update removed the remote ID when using the small battery. Well, the Firmware Update applies only to the Mini 3 and the Mini 4 Pro. The Mini 3 non-Pro and, if you have the Mini 3 Pro, then the batteries will actually transmit remote ID with both of the batteries. Now, I know that adds a lot of confusion, but this is the word from DJI.
For the other drones, the Mini 3 and the Mini 4 Pro, we reached out to DJI, and then we met with them last week on Friday after we posted the latest News update video. After the meeting, we found out that each of the drones is considered to have technically two different models, one with each of the batteries.
Shooting Down a Drone
Now, the larger battery will transmit remote ID, while the other battery does not. Only the drone and the larger battery are approved with the FAA, with a Declaration of Compliance on the website. We'll be publishing a full video on this very soon because there's just a lot of confusion about this, and we wanted to put it all in one place because we wanted to make sure that we didn't have to answer any more questions about this and make sure that everybody's on the same page.
Next up this week is kind of a scary one out of California. Police with a warrant were conducting surveillance with a drone in Shasta County on a man that was wanted for multiple felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon. Now, during the operation, the wanted man shot down the drone. SWAT team was deployed along with California Highway Patrol, but the man escaped and remains at large. The incident is a great example of how drones put cameras in harm's way instead of actually people.
Illegally Operating a Drone at an NFL Game
Third up this week is likely one that you've seen: a man is facing felony charges after illegally operating a drone at an NFL game in Maryland. His name is Matthew Hebert. Allegedly, he flew his drone over the M&T Bank Stadium during the TFR on January 28th, 2024, so very recently. Now, the NFL suspended the game due to the drone being up there, and the Maryland State Police and the FBI located the drone pilot. The pilot advised the police that he relied exclusively on DJI's built-in geofencing to tell him that he could or could not fly in a certain area, and there was no DJI restriction in place, so he assumed that he was good to fly.
Now, the drone was not registered, and Hebert does not have a remote pilot certificate. Now, if convicted, the maximum sentence is 3 years in federal prison for operating as an airman without having an Airman certificate, and also operating an unregistered drone. Now, that's the maximum. Another charge also willfully violating a US National Defense airspace, that would add another possible year to the charge.
I find that actually interesting. I went to look at what airspace the stadium is in. It's really close to Washington DC, but it's not in the FRZ, the what people call the “freeze,” which is an area with restricted access for drones and other manned aircraft unless you have clearances. It's not in there; it's right at the edge of it.
It's actually inside a Class D airspace that is LAANC-approved. Now, he was charged with violating the US National Defense airspace, so my only guess is that he flew possibly, and this is me making this up, he possibly flew from inside of the FRZ and then over to the stadium, which would be about 3 miles from what I measured on the map, which I hope is not the case because he would be in even more trouble.
But I'm actually surprised that he was charged with the National Defense airspace violation because he violated the TFR, but I don't think that qualifies as a National Defense airspace. Maybe, I'm wrong, but maybe you have more information; leave them down in the comments.
No Drone Zone at the Super Bowl
Now, on the same topic, the Super Bowl is this weekend. If you're in Las Vegas, there is a 30-mile no-fly TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) around the game. The FBI will be visiting pilots who bust the TFR; they do it every single year. I think the last two years, there were 60 to 70 people that get busted flying their drones during that time. Vegas has a number of drone detection stations around the city.
Don't think that you can get away with it; you will definitely get caught if you go out there and fly. Also, remember this is a closed stadium, so even flying your drone, you're not going to be able to see much of anything inside because the stadium has a roof on top of it. So, stay away, please. Don't be that guy. I don't want to be talking about people who fly in the Super Bowl TFR.
And, that's it. That's all we have. I'll see you on Monday for the live event. Otherwise, I'll see you next Friday for the next news update.
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