photo of sunset
View from the porch

Hi all –

Wow. After months of waiting first we get Part 107 and now, with not a minute to spare comes FESSA.

Let me explain. What was known as the FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2016 is now FESSA, The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016. This is the Act that the House and Senate committees agreed on.

But anyone who suggests that this is now a done deal (and some are), has not done their homework.

 If it has been awhile since your last PoliSci class, when a bill leaves committee, as FESSA just has, it has to be voted on by the full House and the Senate. Then, assuming it passes both chambers, it has to be signed into law by President Obama. All this needs to happen by July 15th or the FAA runs out of money. Simple as that… Hopefully the bill will not become a political football.

As I hope you are coming to expect, 13 Drone Provisions In FESSA: The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 takes a fast paced look at the business implications of each of the 13 drone specific Aviation Safety Provisions under Subtitle B—UAS Safety in the 133-page bill; as well as three other related Provisions of interest.

The headline here is AGGRESSIVE – aggressive timetable and aggressive goals.

As could have been easily predicted, Tesla got put under the spotlight this week. Last week’s announcement by the NHTSA was followed by the sale of $2B in stock with no disclosure of the death and another Autopilot crash in Pennsylvania. The Beginning Of The Tesla Aftermath looks at a few of the comments and what it all might mean to drones.

Less predictable is A Tale Of Two DJI Geo-Fences. The first tale features excerpts from an interview with Brendan Schulman explaining how operators who have registered with DJI will be able to bypass most geo-fencing. This includes an acknowledgement that flight data is being captured by every DJI Px and Inspire running GEO.

The data is being sent back to the mothership whenever an owner updates their software.

That story has plenty of implications though most of the media seem to have missed it.

The story that has yet to break is that the US Department of the Interior has banned the use of DJI drones due to national security concerns.This is credibly reported and may come as a wake-up call to those who see geo-fencing as
a panacea.

Since I posted it, I have received a copy of a post from another official stating that the DOI does not “ban” aircraft. It simply does not select vendors who do not meet their standards. No word as to who or why, and not a peep about security. I included the post since I am more interested in being accurate than right. Seems to be plenty left to the story either way.

Adding insight to the industry’s growing PR problem is a new survey UK Survey Shows UAS Industry Isn’t Doing Enough. This is a solid study that shows that the public – particularly older adults – are less than pleased with drone manufacturers, regulators and operators.

Look at a couple of these findings and think about how they map to Part 107, FESSA and other stories here:

  • Operator traceability was the biggest concern (79% concerned vs 15% not) This is specifically addressed in FESSA. The FAA ought to do it the way
    DJI does.
  • Privacy, safety and national security were all major concerns (75%, 74% and 65%, respectively) Privacy is still not getting the attention it deserves, safety and national security are in Part 107 and FESSA.

$75K Is Yours For The Name Of The Drone Pilot Interfering With Fire Fighters reflects the growing frustration of federal, state and local officials charged with protecting our homes and forests. This particular reward is being offered by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors, but no doubt there will be others. If you’re not up to speed on the whole wildfire/drought disaster, I’ve included a link to an excellent article in The Economist. And a terrifying chart.

When Toys Go To War tells the story of drones purchased from toy stores in the bazaars of Baghdad, are helping Iraqi soldiers to defeat ISIS on the front lines in Iraq. It’s another example of how the democratization of technology is changing the calculus of conflict.

With all the heartbreak and horror of the week, we need something sweet and our Eye Candy Tag Award winner is just that. Presenting The 2016 Dronestagram Winners looks at the judges nine winners out of a field of 6,000 entries.
Lovely stuff.

Thank you for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody


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