Government charges woman with illegal export of autopilots to China

If you're about to deal with interested parties overseas, consider this:
Maryland woman charged with illegal export of miniature aircraft controls to China
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Maryland woman was charged Friday with exporting miniature controls for small unmanned aircraft to China.
The government says the controls are the world's smallest and involve a technology that cannot be shared with China because of national security concerns. The devices can be used to fly small military reconnaissance planes.

Yaming Nina Qi Hanson of Silver Spring, Md., is accused of taking the controls to China last August without a required export license. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine (emphasis mine -J).

Qi Hanson and her husband, Harold Hanson, arranged over e-mail to buy the controls from a Canadian company, MicroPilot of Manitoba, according to the criminal complaint. Company officials told the couple they could ship the controls to the United States but the couple would have to get an export permit to send the controls to another country.
Read the full article

It doesn't really help anyone here to have the government use this incident as an excuse to crack down on amateur unmanned aerial vehicles. So please don't do anything stupid like this.

Views: 602

Comment by Jack Crossfire on February 17, 2009 at 7:05pm
The product in question was a Micropilot autopilot. Harold Hanson bought 20 for $90,000. Obviously not a hobbyist operation. Then he declared the shipment was lost when in actuality his wife took them to a former classmate China. The only way a private individual could buy $90,000 of anything is if the former classmate in China paid him first. So your former classmate sets up the deal & you take the fall.

As the economy disintegrates & people get more desperate for cash, expect it to happen more & more. An awful lot of guided missile delivery experts are looking up from their toilet cleaning jobs & wondering if there isn't a Chinese gravytrain waiting for them.
Comment by Marc Ramsey on February 17, 2009 at 8:44pm
To put the bizarre nature of export controls laws in perspective, the MicroPilot circuit boards may be manufactured, stuffed, and soldered in China, then shipped to Canada where (perhaps) the firmware is loaded, a few tests are performed, and some nice packaging is provided, at which point it is now illegal to ship them back to China without a license...
Comment by Howard Loewen on February 17, 2009 at 10:35pm
The circuit boards for the autopilots in question are manufactured in Canada.

While one can argue the effectiveness of export controls on UAV autopilots, it is still the law and breaking this particular law is probably a poor choice.

Comment by Noth666 on February 18, 2009 at 3:39am
Happily enough this export control nonsense only concerns US and Canada. The only downside to this is that most makers of this kind of stuff are on that side making it hard for the rest of the world to "join in the fun".
Comment by Howard Loewen on February 18, 2009 at 6:10am
UAVs and UAV autopilots are controlled by the Wassenaar Arrangement (see and the Missile Technology Control Regime (see The list of countries that belong to these groups is extensive. All of the countries that belong to these groups are supposed to enforce a common set of export controls. The sites include lists of all the various military and non-military goods that the members countries control.

Comment by Rory Paul on February 18, 2009 at 7:07am
The President of MicroPilot monitors DIYDrones....
Comment by Paul Marsh on February 18, 2009 at 7:19am
@Jack -- I take your point, but while I am not a guided missile expert, I am a professional who is quite literally cleaning toilets at night to help make ends meet while looking for work in my field. The last thing that would occur to me is selling secrets to China, or doing anything illegal. There are a few honest folks left!
Comment by george on February 18, 2009 at 7:54am
@Paul Marsh -- The turning of you into a criminal requires nothing more then then the stroke of a bureaucrats pen.
Comment by george on February 18, 2009 at 7:59am
Read the full story guys--
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said Hanson, who works at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the patient safety office, had not yet been charged in the case.

So what is it? Has she been charged or not?
Comment by Howard Loewen on February 18, 2009 at 8:22am
I believe that Nina Ki-Hanson has been charged and that her husband (who works at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center) has not been charged.


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