Thursday, 8 January 2015

Education campaigns on UAS, to inform users, increase safety… and prevent stricter regulation?

In the days before Christmas, two major education campaigns on the use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) started in the US and the UK. Although the major goal of such campaigns is to educate users on the legal framework of such flights, they might be part of an effort to avoid stricter regulation.

In the US, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition, together with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have launched the campaign “Know before you fly”. The campaign provides respective users, i.e. hobbyists, businesses and public entities, with the legal information they need to ‘fly safely and responsibly’, for example maximum altitude of flight, flight within Line of Sight etc.

In the UK, a similar webpage is called “Fly safe, fly legal” and has been created by Resource Group, which is a company offering UAS flight courses and training, together with the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

These campaigns might constitute also a response to a growing number of safety related incidents involving sUAS worldwide, combined with proposals to establish even stricter on UAS flights.

In the US, the growing number of UAS-related safety incidents reported has led Senator Dianne Feistein (D-CA) to introduce a bill on even stricter restrictions UAS flights. In a parallel development, two bills have been introduced to the New York City Council to ban flights of UAS partially or in whole. In the UK, there are also law enforcement actions for violations of UAS flight safety rules, see e.g. here and here.

It appears that the delay in the establishment of a complete regulatory system for UAS, which is expected to last even longer until the regulators catch up with technological developments, has sparked fears that the rules, when finally enacted, may be too strict in the eyes of the industry.

Notwithstanding such fears, the existence as such of rules on UAS is not sufficient to ensure flight safety. Enforcement actions are also necessary. Nonetheless, education creates a wider safety culture, which is both more efficient and probably better in balancing conflicting interests.

No comments:

Post a Comment