3.20.19 - First Propellerheads Newsletter

"You may never need them, but if you do, they'll be there. It's that bedrock promise of protection that makes our public safety officials the unsung heroes that they are." — Ajit Pai, FCC Chairman


Drone services industry exploding money


New research from ReportLinker dropped this week with news that the Drone Services Industry grew to nearly $700m globally in 2018. Around these parts that wasn't too surprising, honestly, We've been watching for 5 years as the public safety UAS market exploded...and that's just one small corner of the over-all global UAS market.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. Drone services were $629.2 million last year

  2. The industry is set to mint money in the next 10 years, growing to $24 billion by 2027

  3. UAS-friendly government regs and a bunch of new equipment and use cases are driving the growth

Why should you care?

Basically, a growing industry should mean you get cooler, more specialized tech at a lower price. Any industry that's growing by 51% every year is going to catch the eye of investors, entrepreneurs, and smart people, and that much money, talent, and brainpower sloshing around the industry should mean commercial UAS tech is going to just get more bad ass every year.


Chula Vista makes history-ish

As reported recently by Cape and the City of Chula Vista and the FAA and...well, us too...Chula Vista Police Department has been awarded the first ever provision for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) for active emergency UAS response. Like, first ever...ever ever. And Skyfire's own Ben Kroll was the guy who wrote it all up. While the short term implications are hard to parse beyond helping Chula Vista PD with their ongoing IPP testing, this is a game-changer for public safety UAV in the long term.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. Chula Vista, with their partners Cape Telepresence and Skyfire were awarded a provision for BVLOS for active UAV emergency response

  2. The provision was part of Chula Vista PD's Jurisdictional Certificate of Authorization (COA)

  3. The provision allows the Remote Pilot-in-Command to operate the UAS up to 3 nautical miles from their position

Why should you care?

While this is unlikely to lead to immediate flood of BVLOS provisions, this test definitely paves the way for increased public safety UAV operations across the country.


Phantom 4 Pro exiting stage right

In what may be one of the least surprising developments, DJI's exceedingly popular Prosumer drone, the Phantom 4 Pro is officially "out of production," whatever that means. DJI continues its long history of being the most transparent UAS company on the planet by offering approximately zero information about why the P4P is out of production or when fans of the drone can expect it back on shelves. Given that it's been hard to find for about 5 months, we suspect this might be a permanent scenario.

Here's what you need to know:

  1. DJI is no longer shipping the Phantom 4 Pro or Phantom 4 Pro V2.0

  2. You can still find it from some suppliers (though we've been having a heck of a time getting them, FWIW)

  3. Might we suggest the Mavic 2 Pro, or Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual?

Why should you care?

The short answer is...you shouldn't. While most of us have fond memories of the P4P, and it's a legit versatile UAS, the new squadron of Mavics are probably better suited for the actual use cases for public safety. The Mavic 2 Pro camera is pretty darn near as good as the P4P, and the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual is the first truly affordable drone-mounted FLIR on the market. So, pour one out for our fallen homie, but don't waste too much time worrying. The future of public safety UAS is very bright.


  1. US police embrace AI, cloud computing to boost public safety efforts

  2. Drones at Prisons: The Results of This 9-Month Study Show Exactly Why we Need Counter Drone Tech

  3. What Does It Mean for Public Safety Departments to Successfully Manage Drone Data?


April 4-5

South Florida UAS Skills Camp

2-day tactical training camp - $199

May 3-4

Chicago UAS Skills Camp

2-day tactical training camp - $199

June 5-7

The Safety Conference

Presented by SERTC and Skyfire, SafeCon 2019 will be the nation's most comprehensive public safety technology training conference ever. - $599


Fremont (CA) Police Department used a Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and its spotlight attachment to find a missing teenager who had run away from the California School for the Deaf. With help from the teenager's friends, a flashlight, and the Mavic 2ED's onboard FLIR camera, a search that would have taken hoursx took only a few minutes.