FAA Reauthorization, DJI Mini 4K, and Robinson Helicopters Purchased Ascent AeroSystems

Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update! We have three stories for you this week: the FAA reauthorization is getting there, there's a new DJI Mini 4K out of nowhere, and lastly, Robinson Helicopters is going to purchase Ascent Aero Systems. Let's talk about it!

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FAA Reauthorization Act

First up this week: Congress appears close to the FAA Reauthorization Act. The document is over a thousand pages, which includes topics on (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drone operation, fine increases for consumer violations, legislation over near collisions, quality control for large aircraft manufacturers, and FAA staffing. Congress will now need to vote on the bill in favor before it heads to the president's desk for signature. During this time, we need to stay up to date on possible regulation going through Congress that may be lumped into the bill.

The Drone Advocacy Alliance (DAA) has a new campaign that opposes a section of the FAA Reauthorization Act that would prohibit the DOT () from using any money for drones made in , along with the expected to be introduced Drone for First Responder Act we talked about last week.

Check out the link to the DAA below to make your voices heard – this is extremely important! We'll keep you updated when we hear more, probably next week there will be a big update on this along with other regulation that has been proposed in the past regarding DJI drone bans. Please stay posted, we'll have more information next week.

DJI Mini 4K

Next up this week, something that kind of came out of nowhere is the DJI Mini 4K. To be clear, it's a Mini 2 4K. The drone is currently available for sale on DJI's website, but there's no mention of it on DJI's official website.

The Mini 4K supports recording up to 4K at 30 frames per second, 2.7K at 60 frames per second. Other specs remain pretty much similar to the old Mini 2 series – a 31-minute flight time, 3-axis gimbal, smart features like QuickShot and panoramic shot, and RTH (Return to Home).

It comes at $299, which is quite frankly a great deal. Granted, it's a Mini 2 (and we have the Mini 4 now), but at $299, if anybody wants to start with a drone, this is probably a great way to go. The Fly More Combo is available for $449 with extra batteries. This offers a more cost-effective option for those that are looking for a 4K drone as compared to the Mini 3 at $499 with the drone and the controller, and then $599 with a Fly More Combo.

Let us know what you think about this! I find it very interesting that DJI has transformed this Mini 2 platform so many times now. They came up with a Mini 2, and I'm pretty sure they came up with a Mini 3 after that, then a Mini 3 Pro, then went back and did a Mini 2 SE which was a simplified version, then they came up with the Mini 4, and now they're going back to the Mini 2 and doing another modification with a 4K camera. I don't know if they have a ton of these frames that are just sitting around and they're trying to figure out what to do with it, but let us know in the comments what you think about this.

Robinson Helicopters Acquires Ascent Aero Systems

Last up, Robinson Helicopters has acquired Ascent Aero Systems. If you're not familiar with Ascent, they make the Spirit drone, which is a COA-2 like looking drone that is primarily used by the military and some other industries. The Spirit has a max takeoff weight of 13.5 lbs, is IP56 rated, and has a maximum flight time with a payload of 38 minutes.

Ascent also makes the NX30, which is a 15 lb payload, 65-minute endurance drone with a 35-mile range. Robinson CEO David Smith hopes to ramp up the production of Ascent's drones to hundreds a month. We'll keep you posted if we hear more from Robinson and Ascent, but this is an interesting move coming from a helicopter manufacturer getting into the drone space.

And that's it, that's all we have for you this week! I will see you tonight if you're watching this on Friday in the community – we have our happy hour at 4:00 PM Pacific. No live event on Monday as we will be traveling to for a recording of a course. We'll see you the following week!

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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
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