Foresight Can Also Be 2020

I told anyone who was listening that the remote ID (#RID for the folks on the socials) that this was an FAA ruse to put one over on the kiddies. The FAA gave everyone the “our hands are tied by DHS” hogwash, and they want RID (privacy, safety, data, detect and avoid, yadda, yadda, yadda), and they gave folks their marching orders to spend all of that VC chedda (aka grandma’s 401k), lobbying Congress to put the coffin nails in 84 years of safe operations in the form of a Sec. 336 repeal.

Back in the day, it was the White House’s privacy hogwash, even though we have more privacy laws on the books than you can shake a stick at.

Anyway, don’t you feel safer now, rube?

Sec. 336 got repealed, and the first thing the FAA did was blame the Congress for the delay, since they would have to start from scratch on crafting up the RID. All of the lobby groups acted like this revelation was a bolt out of the blue and they had no idea the FAA would use it to stall. That includes “experts” that formerly worked for the AUVSI, FAA, and/or the Obama administration. Some mentioned that there was unaccounted obfuscation on the FAA’s part. #lol There is a fly in this RID snake oil,
but it probably won’t come back to haunt the industry until right around the time the RID UTM is supposedly going to kick in.

If the FAA is good at one thing, it is stalling. In this case, it could very well turn out that the FAA inadvertently installed a Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System on the US drone NAS integration effort. Yes, it is that bad. #RIDiculous

The omission in no way will slow the carpetbagger drone shows, drone-selfie news outlets, clickbaiters, and snow-jobbers from heralding the real kickoff of the nascent drone industry being just three short years away. The pay-to-keynote circus carnies and balloon-animal artists will spin it as a chance for the smart people in the room to double down on VC-funded consulting and lobbying contracts.

Measure must have used their Obama era political connections (can’t afford the CDA dues anymore, but who can?) to get the early word and sell out 60% of the company before the RID announcement sent the industry into another nosedive. Flirteyin with disaster, or maybe it was just as simple as some lettuce for the payroll kitty?

Drones as a Servicio is panning out to be a $12-an-hour gig, and it turns out that in some states, folks won’t show for peanuts. Just wait until the RID UTM fees kick in; whoever is left will be paying to cover the FAA UASIO junkets, and the $12-an-hour DaaS gig will look like the good old days.

Remember, these are the same lobby groups who toot their horns about how they have the inside track on everything and are the ones moving and shaking in DC.

Most of these same groups publicly advocated for the Sec. 336 repeal. Curious that UPS didn’t use any of the movers and shakers for their Part 135 cert. Whatever the case, what is three, five, maybe seven more years, when the FAA has been working this issue since 1992?

Everybody’s got choices –

Sorry, you’ll have to read down to the bottom for solutions this year. Or you can just rest easy, knowing DJI is on the case of FAA policy for American skies. If that doesn’t work, they can just make and market a 249-gram drone to muddy the waters and vex the CAAs. The toy company keeps telling us it is all about safety, right?

But how come geofencing doesn’t work in war zones (why DHS keeps asking for registration markings on the outside of aircraft, RID, etc.), and their toys have a range of 4 kilometers plus, depending on the model? Do you feel safer now, rube?

There is a silver lining for ParaZero, since they have several more years to collect the return on investment on Michael “Golden Parachute” Huerta’s and James “Center of Excellence” Poss (aka Lloyd and Harry) consulting contracts and the extraordinary ASTM work. Word on the street is if you want to fly over people, you buy ParaZero equipment first and then apply for the waiver; how is that for a square game? #blueribbon

Talking about square games, Phil Kenul (ASTM-paid F38 consultant) is kicking butt and taking names, publishing standards for everything. However, the FAA has yet to adopt any, and that makes me wonder what in the heck is going on with 15 years of hard consensus-standards work.

The GAO says the FAA is blowing through the mega-millions on NAS integration for mall toys, and folks are asking, “What did we get?” Well, they didn’t even get Buzzy, the Drone, since the FAA said the concept and artwork were all free! Was the money spent on LAANC, the KnowB4UFly app, a comprehensive enforcement scheme, or a privacy solution? Nope, we got all of that for free too.

Did anyone hear about the new timeline for the NASA FAA UTM handoff? TCL 4 is lower than a gopher’s nutsack.

I’m still waiting for the UASIO progress reports. I guess we know why UASIO
“leadership,” told the FOIA folks to play games with what is in the UASIO director’s job description–i.e., yearly UASIO progress reports prepared for the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety. For you beltway bumpkins, I’m referencing they installed an intermediary person not listed in the Director’s job description, so those requesting (that Egan guy) would be hindered by an exact FOIA query.

If you break the labour down for the UASIO, they have approximately 100 folks attached, at 2080 hours in a work year, which equals 208,000 hours worked on your behalf. Remember, rubes, that those hours only account for $27 million of that $69 million. So we still have a whopping $42 million a year, extra, swirling around the black hole of Calcutta. So, unless the FAA has a huge surprise that they are keeping a secret, I’d say the taxpayer got a gilded fleecing.

The silver lining on the deal is that the government is going to pass those costs on to droners in user fees, through an intermediary cellphone app company, no doubt, that will skim the cream.

Passing on the users’ fees may only result in a diminishing return since not everyone appears to be cashing in on the bonanza gold!

The reoccurring numbers suggest alternative forecast reality issues.

https://www.suasnews.com/2019/09/recurrent-remote-pilot-certificate-part-107-numbers-down-73/

Golly, who do you think has a cellphone app for LAANC, UTM, RID that will facilitate that? All I can say is, it is just a good thing the Chinese are still a few years behind the US in software development. Whew!

Cashing in on the new, improved and free KnowB4UFly app contract was
KittyhawkIO. Kind of hard to believe the FAA couldn’t peel off a few hundred thousand from that $69 million, to be used for some education over enforcement. I guess they didn’t learn their lesson (or the droners didn’t, for that matter) on the first go-round with the best and brightest at AMA, AUVSI, FAA, and the ultimately ghosted Small UAV Coalition. The first iteration of an app partnership facilitated a teachable moment for the participants on how participating with half-baked ideas and efforts only damages their credibility and equates to a loss of freedom for their membership and constituents.

It’s safe to assume that the drone industry “experts” and “advocates” have not learned the FAA’s integration filthy lesson. Coming off of all of the other canards (Part 107 allowing for BVLOS, privacy, safety, accountability in the form of registration), the new rubes gleefully fell for the old ruse–I’m paraphrasing, since I wasn’t at the backroom/ex parte meetings: “When these hobbyists who haven’t been a problem come under control, you’ll be able to fly over people and BVLOS.”

Gentle reader, please allow me to translate: DJI is lobbying like a mad dog, and they don’t want us to do anything that will chill toy sales down at Best Buy. What that means to the lobbyist is at least another five years on the get-nothing-done-makes-its-own-gravy contract fun-ding. Does anyone still wonder why wider technology adoption isn’t happening?

I didn’t know that an FAA 107.31 waiver included beyond-regulatory oversight too!!

I’m assuming the RID payoff was sold as better than sliced bread, just like
PrecisionHawks, with or without a 10-month out of safety compliance, down to the local FSDO mulligan. You’d have to be a real schlemeky to louse up a sweet deal like that one. Imagine the loot you could bring down by leasing out your very own BVLOS waiver, even though it is/was invalid? Then there are all of the ancillary income streams of lobbying fees, lucrative reoccurring training, all while not having to worry about the compliance of any onerous rules. Golly, imagine if everyone got the PHawk treatment. Why a company might be able to make enough money with drones without having to do a Series E round.

Something for investors (as well as taxpayers quietly along for the ride) and you aspiring rubes to ponder: You have to understand that this Cinderella story couldn’t make it work even with more than a hundred million dollars in investment; a celebrity CEO, partnerships with institutional heavyweights like Insitu, Skyward, Harris, MTSI, membership in the Small UAV Coalition, et al., a snow-job forecast, a Canadian lawyer, being close friends with the #1 Global Happy Good Luck Quad Copter Company VP of Policy and Legal Affairs, Frank LoBiondo as an adviser, and a blanket FAA Pathfinder BVLOS waiver that allowed for flying willy-nilly anywhere in
the country BVLOS and completely unfettered by federal regulations!
Imagine the money you could bring in if you didn’t need to support the regulatory overhead of VO’s, BVLOS being whatever you need.

Imagine the money you could bring in if you didn’t need training or anyone on the payroll to ensure/verify that the operations are safe and/or have met the FAA waiver rules/criteria/policy. It leaves me wondering whether the FAA was able to get the much-needed Pathfinder data, and if so, when it will be published.

When PrecisionHawk announces that their celebrity CEO is moving on, the
blowback will include egg on the face for those at the FAA since this will be the third DAC chairperson that has bitten the dust. Nancy Egan was unaffiliated since 3DRobotics went under while she was chairing. Bless her little heart; she was able to soldier on as a volunteer until a replacement could be found. The dude from Intel purportedly had a May-to-December thing going on with someone in the office, but it wasn’t isolated to Intel since Insitu had a leadership mentor who was to hands-on with the Mentees.

Folks wonder if the DAC is cursed, but community members are starting to think that the FAA just excels at making poor choices–and that was even before the 737 MAX dirty laundry got aired.

For reference, I was cc’d in the DAC “sorry, you’re not a winner” email, so I’m going to have to go with poor choices. They didn’t BCC the email; and let’s just say they passed over some very qualified people, and I wonder why they would do that.

As if it couldn’t get any worse, the Sacramento FSDO manager wasn’t even aware, almost a year into the PG&E contract, that anyone was flying drones BVLOS.

Top brass at the FAA, as well as the manned “equivalent level of safety” aviation groups, were alerted to the possibility of a safety issue, yet not a peep. What are we supposed to deduce from this? Maybe the double-digit per cent rise in GA fatalities has taken a little bit of wind out of their equivalent level-of-safety sails?

I had to listen to countless “experts” and industry insiders talking ad nauseam about the summer of 2019 and Drones as a Servicio taking off. Spoiler alert: for some folks, this may be a more uncomfortable experience than a pair of skinny jeans straight out of the dryer. Still, a shit service model is never going to pay off on the $82 billion promised by the dullards at AUVSI. On a side note, anyone still listening or in any way associated with those buffoons is, well, a $150-a-year buffoon by association.

Some of you may have missed my public apology to Tracy Lamb, former vice president of Regulatory and Safety Affairs and chief pilot at AUVSI. Yes, every once in a while, I make a mistake. As many of you know, I have been a vocal detractor of the TOP program and foretold of its failure and demise. How did you know it was going to fail, you ask? Simple; it wasn’t a member benefit for anyone besides executive leadership and the Board. The membership always comes last at AUVSI, and folks who have left AUVSI leadership continue with that winning praxis as they move on to the next host/parasite contract.

Anyway, the apology was not for saying that TOP was destined to fail. It failed, but it was because I was wrong about Tracy being asked to resign over its failure. It would appear that the CEO of the world’s largest unmanned advocacy group didn’t dig negative comments about board members and the world’s largest civilian toymaker.

By the way, if you paid full price for TOP, you got taken (sorry, rube), since no reasonable offer was refused and discounts of up to 50% were given. If you helped develop the program or did other ancillary work, the discount offered was 10%.

I don’t know why people flatter themselves thinking that I am going after them personally; adages such as “if you lay with the dogs…”, “casting pearls before swine,” etc., come to mind.

The White House DOA announcement, and the DJI ban –

Folks have been asking what I think of the ban, and I say it would be hard to pull off without Huawei backlash. However, this ban thing is growing legs, and I even hear that the policy VP could very well be in the investigation crosshairs. My Chinese contacts won’t even respond to any questions about the DJI, because they are the chosen company. Let me reiterate that the other Chinese drone companies can’t compete with DJI on price point and technology. It’s not only the $1.6 billion in cash, but also the engineers, facilities, tax breaks, marketing money, and ecosystem.

You just can’t fight The Great Hall of the People or, in this case, the New China Life Insurance Company! https://www.suasnews.com/2019/08/did-dji-bamboozle-you-too/

One more side note here: people still tell me that they are two years ahead of the DJI; usually, in the same breath, they also tell me how great their drones are. Do they realize they sound obtuse, or are they just under the misguided impression that the toy company is hardware only?

Poor old Uncle RICO (aka Droneflaws). I’ve been sitting around here waiting for a cease-and-desist letter, but I figure if one went out, it would be another public admission that he is/was wrong. Besides the registration task force being a complete failure, folks do read the sUAS News, and I am right, yet again. The ex parte joke is on him, since everywhere I go, folks regale me with renditions of lines and concepts from their favourite stories. That is usually followed up by laughing at the nicknames for all of the players published here and on social media.

Oh, did you catch the US Senate cite of Gary Mortimer and sUAS News?
Someday, we’ll need to make up a key to identify all of the industry players.

Solutions –

  1. Science-based NAS integration
  2. Enforcement of existing rules and policy (for everyone, not just the poor
    bastards who can’t afford lobbyists or ex-FAA consultants.)
  3. Accountability from the FAA. Integration is a $69-million-a-year (not including
    NASA) two-way street.

There are so many more topics that could be covered, like forming a group to advocate for the American aerospace ecosystem. An association of professionals that acts as the champion for a domestic STE(A)M education pipeline, small business, jobs, and possibly even national security.

Parting NPRM spoiler! The FAA is under no legal obligation to change one word of the NPRM based on public comments.

@TheDroneDealer on Twitter

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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).