The U.S Interior Department has issued an order to ban drone flights and grounding much of its drone fleet. These drones either made in China or with Chinese parts amid a fear they could be used for spying activities. The Department will efficiently ground the entire fleet with exceptions to those being used for training and emergency situations, such as wildfire tracking, search, and rescue. The Interior Secretary David Bernhanrd informed the Wall Street Journal he believed the department would be able to complete its objectives without sacrifice. He also hoped domestic drone makers would replace Chinese equipment at some point. However, the alleged fears weren’t yet justified.
DJI is making many drones for the Interior Department and confirmed that the Chinese government has never asked for drone data. The company allows operators to limit data access and even worked with the Interior Department to tighten restrictions on data transmissions. There’s no public evidence to support claims of DJI enabling Chinese spies, whether or not DJI is right when it says the grounding is part of a politically motivated agenda to prop up U.S businesses. The grounding could significantly obstruct efforts of the U.S Interior Department. There were a large number of workers using the drones to inspect things like endangered species and soil erosion until the flight ban.
They now have to either use traditional aircraft or forego information altogether until an American drone option. The official DOI order says the grounding is temporary, while we ensure that cyber-security, technology, and domestic production concerns are adequately addressed. Drone use for non-emergency operations will remain grounded while the Department of the Interior reviews the possibility of threats and ensures a secure, reliable and consistent drone policy that advances our mission while keeping America safe. Drone operations will continue to be allowed in approved situations for emergency purposes, such as fighting wildfires, search and rescue and dealing with natural disasters that may threaten life or property.