FAA UAS Symposium And AUVSI, Grafters Of A Feather

FAA UAS Symposium And AUVSI, Grafters Of A Feather

I grouse about the cost every year and primarily because the goal is supposedly education. If that is true and we are concerned about the “safety of the NAS,” wouldn’t it make sense to bring as many people as possible inside the tent? Instead, the high price, usually $769 in person and now $375 for online episodic adventures, serve to weed out those that most need educating instead of enforcement. The silver lining, at least you know you are getting the virtual experts upfront.

If that were the case, the show would be put on by the FAA at a public facility like they do for the DAC or NASA does for their wildly successful and well funded UTM program. Secondly, the AUVSI shouldn’t be able to shutout news outlets by arbitrarily determining whom they want to charge admission. Wait; what?! Yes, one of the job’s AUVSI memberships pays Tom McMahon the princely sum of $255,000 a year to determine who gets press credentials for the FAA UAS symposium. That information gets past over to Erik Amend at the FAA UASIO to tell people, well, sorry, Tom at AUVSI said no.

From the 2018 AUVSI IRS form 990 –

Don’t just think it is the NGO folks raking in the money as the FAA was paying Earl Lawrence $202,729 to run the UASIO, and say no. Incidentally, that is more money than Ali Bahrami makes as Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety! Jay “he loves the junkets” Merkle gets compensated $202,729 a year and can’t even manage an email or call back about flagrant and egregious bogus and BVLOS activity, what about the safety of the NAS? I don’t know if it was just an 18-month fluke, or it just takes that long to plan the next European junket?

Where is my cut of the $82 Billion?

I also grouse about the free marketing the FAA generously bestows upon the UAS show organizer. Emails, social media posts, and program endorsements by public officials have tangible marketing and advertising value, especially when coming from a .GOV email address. Besides the credibility of emails coming from the regulator, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in value in direct marketing to citizens and global aviation enthusiasts.

Is that savings past on to the taxpayer, no? Contrary to being passed on to the poor jamoke who is paying $69 million +/- a year to fund the UASIO (plus all of the other FAA DAC attendees averaging $200k a year) you get to help subsidize the ridiculous salaries and bonuses lavished on the AUVSI “leadership!” Before everyone gets upset and says that I’m trying to make things personal, I’ll say the same thing I said to Toscano, I don’t care what you are getting paid as long as you are putting points on the board. Mike had another saying he liked; “we don’t want to work ourselves out of a job!” I can see why as the salaries are the only thing scaling in the drone industry.

I’d say this flock has little to show besides favors for those folks that have political connections or a possible off-ramp career opportunity, and contempt for the unwashed stakeholder aka bag-holder. The same bag holder that will be paying for the next 30-years of shenanigans in the form of RID, and the magical UTM Amazon, Google, and Walmart need to make drone delivery a reality.

I’m going to include the 2020 FAA UAS Symposium cake eater crib sheet for your convenience.

  1. What happened to the 2015 Congressional NAS integration mandate?
  2. How much is full NAS integration going to cost the taxpayer?
  3. New regulation for the hobbyist, what does it cost, how is it administered, what about expiration/currency?
  4. Any ideas why the education instead of enforcement program hasn’t worked?
  5. If it is all about education and not enforcement, why is the gate fee to this event so high?
  6. Who on stage (including FAA) holds a current UAS Certificate? 
  7. Where is the repository for all of the collected COA, 333, test site, and UAS IPP data stored?
  8. Is the collected data catalogued in a format that is accessible for academics and scientists to study and analyze?
  9. What other types of data does the FAA believe it needs?
  10. What is the plan and timeline to collect the new data? 
  11. Standards work. How many of the drone standards (ASTM,RTCA, ASE, etc) have the FAA adopted? 
  12. When can we expect the UTM (currently at TCL 4) to be up and running?
  13. How much will UTM cost, and who is paying for the rollout?
  14. Is the ID and Tracking scheme going to be certified?
  15. When will ID and Tracking be up and running?
  16. How soon will be flying BLVOS (not EVLOS with a VO) and over people? 
  17. Why did it take 18-months to fix the PrecisionHawk BVLOS waiver?
  18. How did Jeremy Grogan determine PrecisionHawk didn’t endanger the NAS without data or an investigation?
  19. What does the FAA attribute the low number of reoccurring sUAS test takers to?
    Bonus question
  20. How much did Jay Merkle expense for junkets in FY2019?

(Why not drop some of these into the comments at the next meeting… GM)

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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).