独角兽 Dú jiǎo shòu by Another Name

独角兽 Dú jiǎo shòu by Another Name

The answer is as plain as the nose on your face. Stop trying to pound the post-Cold War twentieth-century square peg through the twenty-first-century globalized supply chain round hole. If you want USA drones, you need a domestic “commercial” ecosystem robust enough to support engineering and innovation. If you don’t like that approach, read the Chinese government website for tips on developing a new economic and technological superpower. 

The Silicon Valley VC snake oil flights are not working. Dual use comes from the commercial sector (RC hobby), just like most legacy military drones. AeroVironment, Boeing, et al. could get huge cost-plus money from the DoD because they were selling GWOT magic. Successful vendors had procurement advocates on the inside and kennels full of lobbyists. If you don’t believe me, research the Integrator. If you need some comic relief, look at the historical pricing for Puma and Raven systems. 

Those same defenders of democracy were also driving the bus with the airspace integration effort, including lobbying, ASTM, RTCA, and AUVSI. The “advocacy” associations would sell out for peanuts, eventually to the Chinese. Everyone knew the only way to have a hand on the tiller with the FAA was through Congress. 

It didn’t get them far, or FAR, with the FAA, as those folks were staunch “not in my airspace” believers. The FAA could easily sandbag any elected official, including and all the way up to the White House. And anyway, they were busy letting the Boeing weasel and embedded FAA workers run the safety of the NAS henhouse. I’ll let the readers deduce the possible motivations for themselves.  

“Do no harm” and “safety of the NAS” are ruses and are platitudes unless it is in regards to a Federal retirement package with all of the trimmings, including the DC differential 30% kicker. They are ensconced major league bureaucrats; some are coldhearted and lack even a modicum of passion for aviation or anything besides a private sector off-ramp. And that off-ramp better come with a part-time schedule, junkets, and a full-time salary with benefits. Talk about a need for more imagination. And while on the subject of DCBD gummies, I’d like to know how past FAA administrator Huerta’s drone consulting firm is doing. 

Back in the pre-regulation days, there were advisories encapsulated in AC91-57. Have a nice day. Long before the clowns on the CCP/PRC dole started with the USA can’t build drones propaganda. The DoD systems were hobby-based, including the Switchblade, which employs the circa 2008 Procerus on-point system. The punchline on any good drone initiative is that someone has to field something, or the FUN-ding will go bye-bye.

The AAM folks are learning that one now as their hopes are quietly getting Dash-ed.

Physics, you cold and remorseless old foe!

The Chinese started knocking everything off (producing) in the mid-2000s, including all these hobby parts being engineered here in the USA. Many of those companies are still around and either produce products in China or have moved on to other specialty sectors that don’t have to compete with compulsory labor, lax environmental laws, and the advantage of most-favored-nation trading status. 

The wizards had fantasies about beating the Chinese at their own game, and I am not just talking about the Beltway bureaucrats, MITRE toadies, and advocacy association a$$clowns braying up; the FAA says this is hard, and “we need data!” No, that was the guy from 3DR who had firsthand experience as the editor for the Economist in China and with friends at the White House. How else could you beat an ITAR rap with no fine? I don’t know if the DJI collab had anything to do with the FLIR case, but FLIR got whacked so hard they had to find a buyer.

The GoPro lifestyle drone was going to pigeonhole old DJI, LOL! Ultimately, 3DR crashed so hard that it took down the whole American commercial drone industry (amateur, too). Did waiting for nine years for a commercial rule from the FAA have a hand in 3DR’s demise? IDK, as Chris Anderson told me flat out and to my face, the FAA would never regulate them.  

Who remembers the Swiper UAV? Only a few companies survived the ruse of getting millions for air superiority grey spray-painted Chinese RC ARFs.    

The RC hobbyists were treated worse than the drone office mentees at Insitu and Intel. I guess it was the first stab at uncrewed inclusivity, as the mentees in both cases were unmanned. The FAA made false promises bolstered by innuendo and assurances that the VC drone bros weren’t the side piece. I remember the giddy laughter of the AMA government guy telling me how the FAA would take care of them. 

That was back when the AMA thought they would be administering (charging) a million RC hobby members $70 a year. They even had friends working for the Chinese (directly and indirectly) who purported to be avid RC hobbyists, telling them that they were in solidarity! It should have been a big red flag (the gold stars are for being special) as the other airspace integration effort mentees hung them out to dry. What happens in the backroom apparently stays in the backroom!

Please refer to the registration Task Farce #250grams, the demise of Sec. 336, RID, and the falling out between Greedy “Common Stock” McNeal and Uncle RICO, aka droneflaws. DJI had a new girl, Kittyhawk, who is now Aloft shilling for them as Anzu.

Any day now…

FAA UAS Symposium 2018 Wrap Up

Anyway, the drone show attendees, Best Buy fliers, and drone bros are out spinning the narrative that includes the USA is an incapable myth. Everything was stolen/given or reverse-engineered from the USA, invested in, and promoted by the PRC/CCP. 

When you hear that story from like 2017, or he hasn’t done anything in the regulatory space for ten years, Remember a totalitarian and repressive regime governs China. You are being spoon-fed PRC/CCP-sponsored propaganda. 


Let those pejoratives fly! @dronedealer on X

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).