Hi all –

Hope you’ll have some time to enjoy this first long, lazy summer weekend.

Nothing new from the FAA for a change. There is a short interview with Congressman Frank LaBiondo (R-NJ) on moving the FAA towards a risk-based permitting model – worth a read since he is the Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee.

Hopping on the safety wagon is aircraft safety expert Wyvern who announced their new RPAS flight ops audit program EXACT. The one liner is that UAS operators “don’t have a clue about safety management.” It is one of those articles that sharply defines the difference between the aviation way of doing things and the rest of us. And while Wyvern serves the biggest of the big, there is little doubt in my mind that this basic sentiment (prejudice) will be found everywhere aviators gather. Look at last week’s NBAA guidelines for more of the same.

For a firsthand take on the challenge of spreading aviation culture, here is an interview with Aaron Greenwald, President of the Unmanned Safety Institute. Aaron notes that safety is an integral part of profitability. That should get some attention.

The NTIA and their newly published voluntary best practice recommendations came in for some discussion this week. Fox Rothschild took a very conservative approach, arguing that as there are now recommendations in writing, it behooves companies to incorporate these best practices into their SOP.

Taking a different approach, Mark Dombroff of Dentons makes it clear that the FAA has never been and will never be in the privacy business. (And so expects the EPIC lawsuit to go exactly nowhere when resumed.) As for the NTIA, his take is that it’s nothing but common sense – something most business people shouldn’t have much trouble with. (Except of course for those who do, and so keep the bar profitably engaged.)

There was more thinking this week on the topic of privacy. Meet the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, a low profile DC concession that takes photos and videos 24 hours a day. The quote of the day? “The civil liberties discussion is coming…” Really? The Wall Street Journal ran an article looking at who owns the air over your head (no doubt someone is after the air we breath.) Interesting format since it includes written positions from two well known drone attorneys, A. Michael Froomkin and Ryan Calo.

Mr. Calo was also busy in Seattle taking part in the first White House workshop on the legal and governance implications of AI. Interesting to see the lines being drawn – so far no one thinks that “the robot did it” will be much of a defense. But give them time.

Fittingly, the oft-quoted lawyer Greg McNeal gave an interview explaining that NoFlyZone.org is no more. McNeal blamed the manufacturers unwillingness to participate… sort of like the pot looking for a kettle somewhere over there. Meanwhile he and co-founder Ben Marcus just got $15M pumped into AirMap and are out promoting their new idea, D-Map.

The USAF released their “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) Flight Plan: 2016-2036.” The basic position seems to be along the lines of “sorry jet jockeys but we can no longer afford not to do this”. Take a minute and read the very thoughtful one-page Executive Summary to see your tax dollars hard at work. As to what they might be doing with their shiny new toys, look at this US Navy 30 drone swarm, the second large-scale swarm demonstration we’ve reported in recent months.

Excellent article out of Oz on 20 things they forgot to tell you about being in the UAV business. The author, Mark Deuter, is the Managing Director of Aerometrex in Australia. He is a long time aerial surveyor which in my opinion makes him well qualified to compare and contrast the old and the new. His comments put some perspective on the hype and hoopla. Very similar to what Colin Snow told me he found in his investigation of precision ag… big planes carrying big sensors go faster… wait for it… and do more for less.

But no worries, things are alive and seemingly very well with the consumer. According to the NDP Group which tracks all things retail, the drone business is up 224% year over year. Drones with 4K cameras made up a third of the $200M in sales. No doubt many of them are destined to shoot weddings and real estate along with those adorable Kodak follow-me moments…

Hoping to capitalize, Zero Zero Robotics announced their Hover Camera drone which delivers 4K and comes in under the .55 pound mark – meaning that it does not have to be registered. It’s a slick piece of design optimized for safety and powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. Not to be outdone, Xiaomi, a major Chinese electronics player, stole the news cycle for the week with their skillful tease followed by the launch of a $460 4K fully loaded DJI killer.

I stumbled into what appeared to be kind of a YouTube flash mob hosted by 3DR’S very buff Colin Guinn. The user chat was going fast and furious. It was obvious that promising and delivering are two entirely different things. There were about 1,200 people in attendance which I thought was impressive for a lightly promoted mid-day turnout. According to the poll, 50%+ of them were recreational flyers.

At the suggestion of my SEO consultant Michael Cottam, I am debuting an “eye-candy” tag to help you find the most delicious and tastiest posts. Singapore photographer Chia Joel gets the honor of the first eye-candy tag.

With that I will leave you to beach balls and barbecues. Don’t forget the SPF 30.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody

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