Dear DJI, these words don’t come easily, but I think it is time we see other people. In writing this letter, I feel as if I’m composing the lyrics to a Taylor Swift song, but I truly do yearn for the good times early in our relationship.
When I first met you, I was skeptical – I saw you as nothing but flash and glitz, catering to those in the cinematography business, not a mapping data guy like me. But then when I first held you, and you gave me the world through geotagged photos in a non-fisheye view, I knew I had to break up with Go Pro and go with your charms.
Your live feed Mav Link video feed via a tablet device had me smitten. I felt so young and free again, broken from the bonds of the old days when I was strapped to a boring old laptop computer and clunky USB modem cable connections. Even your unannounced firmware upgrades were exciting to me back then. It was as if you kept making yourself into something new and improved, albeit unannounced and without warning. I didn’t even mind those times in the field when your announced firmware upgrades came about with me at a remote location with no network connection, and half my field day was shot. I didn't care back then because I had so much faith I could tame you, that you would eventually settle down.
But then you changed when I was ready to move our relationship from hobbyist to the commercial level. You see, DJI, relationships are built on mutual trust. When I heard the rumors, you were spying on me, taking my log files for your seeming personal gain without my knowledge, I said to myself it could not be so, but alas it was. The tears welling up in my eyes when I saw that our DOD could not trust you anymore with our armed forces, let alone critical infrastructure, attested to a crucial turning point in our relationship where I knew you were not the same platform I once knew.
Despite this mistrust, DJI, I was willing to work with you. I had the naïve inkling that I could change you, that I could get you to settle down as we moved into the more serious commercial relationship. I thought our lines of communication were going to improve, and in the same way, I let you know your problems via customer service, you would reciprocate with ample response on your end. But you just kept on with that unpredictability. When you came out with the M series, I thought you were ready, but now I see that you just could not move away from the glamour of the cinematography world, and felt that us mapping guys were just too boring for you. You pretended to be in a commercial relationship, but your announced firmware upgrades ruined way too many dates between us. I would pay my due diligence ahead of our dates, making sure that your firmware was up to date, but alas, the night before you would change your mind and present me with a firmware update that left me standing at the proverbial alter in the field, thus ruining another day in our commercial relationship.
But you know what really got me to this point DJI? What really brings me to this need to end our commercial relationship is your lack of respect for me as a commercial partner through your lack of trust in me as your commercial partner. The day you decided to lock me out of restricted airspace, lumping me as a commercial provider in the same category as hobbyists, was the day I saw our relationship as unsustainable.
You see, DJI, I am not some 16-year-old punk who took an online FAA Part 107 exam. I bring to our relationship a line of expertise in the UAS space that you don’t seem to recognize with me or others in the same commercial relationship. I have been involved with UAS before you were even born, and my business partner, Peter Menet, comes in with more military aviation experience than most of your flight engineers could even dream of. Not only have you insulted our trust in recent months, but now with your restrictions, you have even placed people in danger. Peter Menet, again a military aviator with hundreds upon hundreds of hours in a Black Hawk Helicopter, has now more than once been grounded when called to a scene by first responders.
The crazy thing here, DJI, is that we on the MenetAero team have the FAA clearances to fly in many of your restricted areas, but you insist on never maturing in our relationship, thus treating us at that commercial partner level. Perhaps it is best, as now I’ve learned that ‘the girl next door’ is best for me. I want that stable commercial relationship to where I can call upon Field of View in North Dakota when I’m having a problem with geotagging, or know that when I fly that C-Astral Bramor, I won’t face any unexpected surprises. These steady commercial relationships are what I seek, and I just don’t see you providing me the stability I need in my life right now. Until you can reestablish trust with me at a commercial level, DJI, Good Bye.