Welcome to Weekly UAS News Update! We have six stories for you this week. We have the FAA Reauthorization Act, flying over people just got a lot easier (this is a cool one), Philly YouTuber's troubles don't end, a new payload from DJI, and lastly, Axon to acquire . Let's get to it.

Yes, I know we have a lot of stories this week, but all of them seem to be pretty important, so I want to cover them all. Also, this happens to be our fifth anniversary of the news update, so you know what they say: go big or go home.

Stefanik Anti-China Bill

Let's get started with the DFR bill from New York Congresswoman Stefanik that we discussed in the last few weeks. Now, it has finally been introduced to the House. The bill aims to impose a new tax on the most popular drones in the country, AKA DJI, and by 2030, it would actually ban any drones manufactured in .

It does this through parts restriction based on where the drone is assembled. This will lead to higher costs for everyone, a potential collapse of the consumer drone market. And a major effect on the use of drones for life-saving operations by first responders.

Unfortunately, this bill is getting support in Congress, and as we discussed before on this channel, this bill is nothing about security concerns as they claim it is. The same parts and components manufactured in China that would be banned from import could still be utilized by US manufacturers who simply assemble the drones in the US.

We also discovered last week that Joe Bartlett, the current director of federal policy at Skydio, is also the former national security adviser for Stefanik.

READ MORE: BLUE SUAS PROBLEMS AND FLORIDA DMS SECRETARY ACCUSED OF PIMPING FOR SKYDIO

In Stefanik's press release, we also found out that newly appointed President and CEO Michael Robbins expressed support for the bill, saying, “AUVSI is grateful for Representative Stefanik's leadership on this issue and is proud to support the DFR Act.”

READ MORE: THE TRUTH UNCOVERED: AUVSI'S REAL STANCE ON DJI DRONE BAN

So now what? It's time for action. If you disagree with this bill, make sure to visit the Drone Advocacy Alliance website and write to your congressmen and congresswomen to politely express your opinion.

If you're a paying member of AUVSI, please politely contact your chapter or AUVSI leadership directly to express your disagreement with their support of this bill.

FAA Reauthorization Act 2024

The 2024 FAA Reauthorization Act has passed the House of Representatives and is heading to the President's desk for signature.

It's been a long time coming. We've talked about this several times on this channel, but the document is over a thousand pages and contains a list of basically all the action items that the FAA is mandated to put in place over the next five years.

We'll have to go more in-depth with an analysis of the act in a separate video. I'm still reading through all the important stuff. I started by highlighting all the things that I was interested in, and it turns out it's over 100 different chapters. The last FAA reauthorization act was in 2018, and typically it happens every five years.

Flying Over People Just Got Easier

This is really good news. As you may already know, getting approval to fly over people has been difficult at best.

At the moment, you either need to have a categorized drone or apply for a waiver, and we found out yesterday that 97% of these OOP (Operation Over People) waivers have been denied to date. But the fine folks at the FAA are actually paying attention and they are changing a few things.

Now, let's be clear here, you still need to have a waiver, but if your drone is more than 0.55 lb (250 g) and 0.88 lb or less (399 g) and you have prop guards, anti-collision light, either using a module or internally, a visual observer, and of course, a waiver, then more than likely you will get approval to fly over people.

What a relief. It's kind of a big deal. I know there's still the paperwork to do, the waiver, of course, and you need to follow all the different prompts for that waiver, so you'll have to apply yourself and spend some time.

Yes, if you do the math, this applies to all the DJI Minis, the entire Mini series from the one through the four, the , the Parrot ANAFI and ANAFI Thermal, the 2 (not the Avata 1 because it's actually 410 g, so slightly over).

If your drone is over that 399 g (0.88 lb) and less than 3.5 lb (1587 g), then you will need a waiver, also the prop guards, the anti-collision light, the remote ID, the visual observer, and in addition to all of this, you also need an ASM parachute system. But if you have this and you submit the waiver, more than likely, it will get approved and you'll be able to fly over people.

This would apply to the Air and the Mavic series from DJI, the Lite series from Autel, the Evo 2 series from Autel, the Parrot ANAFI, the Skydio 2 and , and even the Phantom 4 Pro V2, the DJI FPV, and the Avata 1. Anything larger than this, over 3.5 pounds, will require more special consideration.

Make sure to understand that this is not a regulation change; you still need to have a waiver and go through the waiver approval. It's not 100% guaranteed, but your chances of getting it are much higher. This means that you can't just go and start telling people you can fly over people now; you still need the paperwork.

Sustained flights over people will be allowed under certain conditions attached to your waiver, but operations over moving vehicles are not included at the moment. So you still have to follow the regular rules using categorized drones, which unfortunately, there are only a handful of.

This information was shared in a Drone Pro webinar this week and more information will be posted on the FAA DroneZone website very soon. Big kudos to the folks at FAA AFS-751 for their hard work on this. We truly appreciate it.

I'll have a full video explanation in the coming week when we have all the final details. I don't want to jump the gun, but this is the data we have right now.

Philly YouTuber's Troubles

Philly YouTuber Michael DiCiurcio is being held in civil contempt of court for violating a previous order to cease flying his drone in an unsafe manner.

This is a follow-up to a proposed fine by the FAA in 2020 that totaled $182,000 for multiple violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations. I'm sure you've heard about that story if you've been following anything on the internet.

He received a preliminary injunction on February 24, 2024, which stated that any further violation would result in contempt of court. Evidence of a failure to abide by the injunction was filed on April 24th, with the contempt of court order filed on April 25th.

This means it's likely now that his drone will be seized and held by the . More trouble is coming for him after he decided to continue flying in what the state deems an unsafe manner. We'll keep you updated if we hear more on this, but this has been a story that has changed quite a bit in the last couple of weeks.

New DJI Payload

DJI released new payloads with the H30 and the H30T. These new all-weather payloads are compatible with the and Matrice 350.

The H30 includes a 40-megapixel zoom camera that's capable of 34x optical zoom and 400x hybrid zoom, an electronic dehazing infrared enhancement, near-IR illumination, and a laser range finder capable of measurement up to 1.85 miles (3 km).

The H30T includes everything from the H30 but also adds a 1280×1024 thermal imager, a big upgrade.

I think this is one of the first times we see such a big sensor on a thermal camera. It has multiple gain modes, a 32x digital zoom, and hotspot detection up to 2912 degrees Fahrenheit (1600° C). This sounds like quite the upgrade from the H20 and H20T.

We'll let you know if we can get our hands on one of those. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Axon to Acquire DeDrone

Axon is acquiring DeDrone, a counter-UAS company that specializes in hardware and software detection and mitigation of UAS. Axon hopes to use Dr. Drone for their existing law enforcement customers and for municipalities with drones as a first responder program (DFR).

At this stage, only the federal government is permitted to take down a drone using jammers or kinetic weapons, so it's unlikely that we'll see DeDrone jammers in action, but we'll keep you posted.

Pilot Institute Update

Lastly, a quick Pilot Institute update: We have now done a drone update for five years. I started this before I think even was a thing. I think the first video, I didn't even have a PI shirt on. I wanted to keep my students updated on all the changes that have happened, and now we've done this for five years without a single missed Friday.

Every single Friday, we have posted a news update for the last five years, and I don't see us stopping. We've now sent 38,000 free registration stickers. We were going to do 10,000 and then we never stopped.

We've also trained over 334,000 students to date, including 99,000 remote pilots. We're getting close to 100,000, which should be coming in the next few weeks. We've issued 207,000 TRUST certificates, that's actually 30% of all the TRUST certificates in the country.

Our new community is booming, we have 27,000 active users in the new community at community.pilotinstitute.com. There are tons of great resources there, a lot of exclusive content is also on the way that you will find only in the community.

We have a lot more coming up in the next few weeks. We have two new drone courses and a new airplane course that is going to be launching soon, so be on the lookout.

Thanks again to all of you that are watching every week. I know our following is growing and more of you are putting comments and we appreciate the following. We'll see you on Monday for the live as we do every week. Have a great weekend!


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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
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