Weekly UAS News Update

Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update! We have three stories for you this week. Yet again, we're going to discuss the Drone for First Responder Act because this is just a horrible idea. Second, we're going to talk about a drone pilot in who got some bad news, which could have significant repercussions. Lastly, we have rumors about the DJI Air 4. Let's get to it!

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The Drone for First Responder Act

First up this week is the follow-up on the misleadingly named Drone for First Responder Act from Congresswoman Stefanik from New York. As we mentioned in our last news update, and I think even the one before, this bill was introduced last week. It would increase the taxes on drones imported from China by 5% each year up to 50%, plus $100. This means that this bill is trying to price out recreational pilots out of the hobby.

Here's why this is concerning: Let's say you have a cheap toy drone that costs $130. In four years, it will cost 50% more plus $100, so 130 * 1.5 + $100. This means you will pay $300 for the drone you buy today.

The Alternative

In four years, they want to push you to a US-made drone that doesn't exist at the moment from a company we don't know about. Because no American company is currently building this kind of drone. For example, the base model worth $2200 today would cost $3400 in four years. And in five years, this bill would ban drones that contain a flight controller, radio data transmitter, camera, software, network connectivity, hardware, or data storage that is manufactured in China.

The Impact on Drone Manufacturers

This would obviously target DJI and Autel, but also Exodrone, Holy Stone, Roku, EMAX, , and pretty much any pre-made drone on the market. Without any replacement, because nobody's interested in getting into that market. What about FPV pilots? Drones utilizing systems manufactured in China, such as Team Black Sheep, iFlight, and even Spectrum, would also be banned.

Funding First Responders

Funds from these new tariffs would be used to fund purchasing new drones. On paper, this might sound like a great idea. The details: 60% of the funds collected would go to first responders, 20% to farmers, and 20% to those working with critical infrastructures. But in five years, all the funds would end. Meaning that if you're a first responder, a farmer, or work with critical infrastructure, you'll be left on your own to buy drones that have been over-inflated in price due to these tariffs.

The Drone Hobby at Risk

This would affect the entire hobby. Many thought the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was interested in killing the hobby; I never thought they were, but now it looks like Stefanik's office, along with the bill's supporters, including , are on the path to do just that. We've included links to the DAA. It's time for you to reach out to your representative and let them know this is not okay. This will hurt you and many others.

Update from the Drone Advocacy Alliance

As of Thursday morning, I received confirmation that the efforts from the Drone Advocacy Alliance have been working well. We've seen victories this year in preventing many states from passing market restrictions on drones, including Alabama, , California, , , , Missouri, Oklahoma, , Washington, and .

Republican Congresswoman Stefanik and Republican Congressman John Moolenaar have requested the Attorney General to investigate the Drone Advocacy Alliance to determine whether the DAA should register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). They claim that the DAA is an agent of DJI, which is laughable. The DAA is a drone-agnostic grassroots coalition made up of businesses who oppose drone market restrictions. It's incorporated in Delaware, and DJI is not a member of the board.

North Carolina Drone Pilot Case

Next up, an appeal court in North Carolina says that the North Carolina Surveyors Board didn't violate a drone pilot's rights by telling them to stop advertising and offering aerial mapping services. A drone pilot received a cease-and-desist letter from the state's surveying board for engaging in mapping, surveying, and photography, stating accuracy, providing location and dimensional data, and producing ortho mosaic maps, quantities, and topographic information. The court decision effectively bans mapping in North Carolina for those who are not surveyors. This person, Michael Jones, plans to appeal the decision.

DJI Air 4 Rumors

Finally, we may have some rumors of an Air 4 drone from DJI. There are leaked images of a possible Air 4 battery and some specs, like a one-inch sensor, mechanical shutter, variable aperture, two cameras, and the Ocusync 4 system. It seems the drone might be used for mapping, catering to entry-level drone pilots. However, I highly doubt DJI will cannibalize the Mavic 3 Enterprise market. These are just rumors, but we'll keep you updated.

That's all we have. Remember, there will be no live update on Monday due to the holiday. We'll see you next Friday for more news. Please, take action and go to the DAA website to find your representative and let them know you do not agree with this proposed regulation. Thank you.

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Proposed legislation threatens your ability to use drones for fun, work, and safety. The Drone Advocacy Alliance is fighting to ensure your voice is heard in these critical policy discussions.Join us and tell your elected officials to protect your right to fly.

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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
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