As DJI faces growing threats from US blacklisting, it has taken a strong stand against the rising tide of protectionism. It has formed an advocacy group to push back against the blanket bans on drones, simply based on their country of origin. Today, we’re diving into the formation of the Drone Advocacy Alliance, the players involved, and its potential impact on the future of the drone market.
The Birth of The Drone Advocacy Alliance
DJI, a titan in the global consumer and enterprise UAV industry, has taken the fight against US drone blacklisting to the next level. In a bold move, DJI has formed the Drone Advocacy Alliance, a lobbying organization that promises to counteract the sweeping bans on drones due to their country of manufacture. This counter-lobby is a logical response to the rising anti-China sentiments reflected in recent US drone policies.
While DJI is the primary force behind this initiative, it's not going at it alone. Joining forces with DJI are four US UAV service partners and a member that lobbies for small and medium sector businesses. These include the Drone Service Providers Alliance, Dronelink, Blue Nose Aerial Imaging, DroneSense, and the Pilot Institute.
Alliance Partners. Source: DAA
The Mission of The Drone Advocacy Alliance
According to their mission statement, the Alliance's goal is to create an open, safe, and honest U.S. drone marketplace. They aim to empower end-users to select the best options for their unique operational needs, regardless of the drone's country of origin. They also work to streamline the process for end-users to voice their opposition to legislation creating market access restrictions based on origin and support legislation fostering long-term industry success.
But what's at stake here? The Alliance has declared that the increasing blacklisting and anti-competition are threats that could "upend the American drone ecosystem". This includes software providers, resellers, distributors, and countless end-users who have incorporated drones into their work.
DJI: Fighting Against Protectionist Measures
The formation of the Drone Advocacy Alliance comes on the heels of DJI's assertive lobbying strategies aimed at countering perceived protectionist policies that give an undue advantage to their American competitors. DJI, as revealed by Open Secrets, invested around $1.5 million in lobbying in 2020 and 2021. Despite these significant financial efforts, DJI was unable to stave off the blacklisting.
The newly proposed legislation, known as the Countering CCP Drones Act, poses a significant risk to DJI drones, as it could potentially render drones operated by US consumers and private businesses obsolete, adding fuel to DJI's fight. This bill, if passed, would add DJI to the "Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Covered List," prohibiting DJI technologies from operating on US communications infrastructure, essentially grounding all DJI drones.
Moving Forward: Advocacy and Education
The Drone Advocacy Alliance is committed to not only advocating for an open marketplace but also to educating policymakers and end-users about the potential impacts of restrictive policies. They aim to enlighten them on the beneficial effects of drones on various sectors such as aiding American emergency response teams, assisting small businesses, contributing to environmental research.
While the Alliance is sponsored by DJI, it stresses its drone-agnostic stance, not endorsing one drone manufacturer over another. Their fight is not just for DJI, but for an open, honest, and fair marketplace where users can choose the best drone for their needs, free from protectionist restrictions.
In the face of escalating political and trade tensions, the formation of the Drone Advocacy Alliance signifies a critical juncture in the drone industry's battle for a free and open marketplace. As these events continue to unfold, rest assured that we'll keep you informed and updated on all the latest developments. Until then, keep those propellers spinning!