DRONES: Sharing the Skies, Industry & Government Collaborations
Updated: May 30, 2021
Industry/government partnerships, educating UAS operators through social media outreach, and proactive communication from airports and air traﬃc control are just some of the eﬀorts designed to facilitate integration of manned and unmanned aircraft operations in the NAS. A variety of industry organizations, including NBAA, are collaborating with regulators and other government entities to make peaceful coexistence a reality.
One of the most important government/industry partnerships is the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), which is modeled after the General Aviation Joint Steering Committee and Commercial Aviation Safety Team, both of which have proven track records for improving safety in their industry segments. UAST hopes to achieve similar results by following these safety models.
The UAST is working to ensure the safe integration of UAS through data-driven safety enhancements. To that end, the UAST has formed three risk- reduction working groups: UAS Loss of Control, Injury Reduction and Safety Culture. The group also has launched an anonymous reporting system, which encourages UAS operators to self-report hazardous situations. A UAST subgroup will analyze data submitted voluntarily by industry members.
In addition, the UAST, along with the FAA and individual airports, are using social media as educational tools.
For example, B4UFLY, a free mobile app produced by the FAA, helps UAS operators determine whether any restrictions or special requirements are in eﬀect at the location they plan to ﬂy. The app shows the special ﬂight rules area around Washington, D.C., and indicates that UAS ﬂight in that area is prohibited. (Providing easy access to airspace restrictions is important because, as was the case in the drone collision with the army helicopter, the UAS operator was unaware of temporary ﬂight restrictions in place at the time.) The app also shows the locations of nearby airports, information especially important for safe separation of manned and unmanned aircraft.
KNOW THE RULES
Both manned and UAS operators should know the basic operating rules for small unmanned aircraft (FAR Part 107). Unmanned aircraft must:
Weigh less than 55 pounds, including payload, at takeoff
Fly in Class G airspace
Be kept within visual line-of-sight
Fly at or below 400 feet
Fly during daylight or civil twilight
Fly at or under 100 mph
Yield right of way to manned aircraft
Not ﬂy directly over people
Not be piloted from a moving vehicle, unless in a sparsely populated area
CONTROLLERS, PILOTS SHOULD FOCUS ON SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
Unmanned aircraft represent a new entrant into the Airspace paving way for new policies and procedures that must be implemented to address them and ensure safety.
Aviation professionals believes air traﬃc controllers can play a signiﬁcant role in ensuring safe integration of drones in the NAS by issuing advisories on the automatic terminal information service or over other communication frequencies to indicate that UAS operations are being conducted at or near an airport. However, controllers can only advise of UAS operations if they’re aware of them.
There have been reported sightings of drones in places where they shouldn’t be, including in and around airports, especially with the recent increase in hobbyist use of UAS said Weidner.
If a UAS operator will be ﬂying within ﬁve nautical miles of an airport, they must notify the airport management and the air traﬃc control tower.(if there is one on the airport).
Reporting intended umanned-aircraft operations at or near an airport gives the airport’s management and control tower an opportunity to deny the operations if they deem them unsafe. If the operations are approved, proper notiﬁcation also gives airport management and controllers a chance to provide appropriate advisories to other users of the airspace.
Despite these established rules designed to prevent manned aircraft and UAS conﬂicts around airports, pilots of manned aircraft operating in the integrated airspace system, especially in the terminal environment, need to be more vigilant than ever to detect UAS.
Situational awareness is the key consideration to safety. Pilots of manned aircraft are constantly advised to use the same level of vigilance you would normally use in a terminal areas with the understanding that Drones are much smaller and may be out of sight of the Pilot.
Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST): www.unmannedaircraftsafetyteam.org
NBAA UAS Resources: www.nbaa.org/uas
FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems: www.faa.gov/uas
B4UFLY Mobile App: www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_ﬂy/b4uﬂy
Port of Portland UAS Operation Rules (Drones):www2.portofportland.com/Inside/UASOperationRules
Twitter and Instagram: @FAANews, @FAA #UAS
AIRPORTS AS PROACTIVE COMMUNICATORS
Airports are the logical local source of information for UAS operators in their area. Airport's should have websites which includes general information regarding drone use and port-speciﬁc requirements. For example, the if a City prohibits recreational UAS operations on port property and requires a permit for commercial and public UAS operations on its properties, Airport websites can serve as Information sources for regulatory guidelines.
In addition, Airports should provide reliable communication systems that provide information for both manned and unmanned aircraft operators. Airports should harness the advantages of managing a webpage for UAS operators and use social media to share information, including regulatory changes and links to other resources.
Furthermore, partnerships with Aviation Institutions and Aviation safety Departments to develop education and outreach programs to help encourage safe and legal UAS operations within the state and to provide communities with information about drones to help resolve and clear doubts that has risen from Drone operations. Airports have a unique role when it comes to UAS operations because we work with airlines, general and business aviation and the military, as well as the community, so airport management should cast a wide net in their outreach eﬀorts.
In general, airports are being encouraged to take three steps to facilitate safe integration of UAS:
Use the airport website and social media to reach UAS operators.
Publish a phone number and email address so drone operators know how to provide required notiﬁcation of ﬂights near an airport.
Educate airport staﬀ on the basics of UAS rules so they can respond to questions from drone operators and the public.
There are a variety of ways to operate a drone, including Part 107, Section 336, waivers, etc. Learn more at www.faa.gov/uas.
Parnda Hedima is a member of the National Business Aviation Association.
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