Updated: May 23, 2022
Aviation is undergoing a global revolution. With advances in unmanned system technology that are moving at the speed of “Moore’s Law,” while their associated prices continue to fall, small, unmanned aircraft systems have become high-tech, universally available tools. This revolution in the UAV industry has opened many gates to use these high-tech UAVs for various applications and either lower the human risk factor or to perform a defined task more accurately.
While UAVs are used to perform various applications, ensuring safety is of great importance. Safety has to be ensured as the UAVs will be flying in an airspace where manned aircrafts will also be flying and in areas open to the public. So before each mission the overall safety has to be evaluated which can be done by following the steps of “mission preparation”.
Step 1: Gathering information about flying environment
Get away from unpleasant surprises by gathering as much information about the environment before you reach on the site. This can be achieved by asking for photos, maps, references and description of the flight area. The mission environmental conditions should be within the limits mentioned in the user manual provided by the manufacturer.
Step 2: Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the operators
The following PPE must always be carried:
Also list the dangers posed by the presence of hazardous materials in the flight area, this might range from corrosive chemicals to bio-hazards caused by untreated sewage.
You must be aware of the effects of flying in your working environment and prepare accordingly by taking additional measures. For example if the environment is dusty, wear respiratory protection.
Step 3: Skills required for operating the UAV
Some flight environments are more demanding on pilots than others. And so a pilot with a specific skill set needs to be selected according to the mission to be carried out.
Step 4: Prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP)
A standard operating procedure is to be developed containing all the inspection, inflight and post flight procedures. A checklist and all the required equipment required on the site is also to be made in order to ease the logistics.
Step 5: Risk Assessment (RA)
The Risk Assessment (RA) is a document which breaks down the steps taken and specifies all the risks that can occur during the progress of the mission. It also states the mitigating measures that can be taken to limit the likelihood and/or consequences of a mishap.
Following the above five steps any mission safety can be ensured and planned before execution. Building a culture of safety compliance in all facets of UAS operations is crucial to future use and innovation within this industry. Without the public’s confidence and support in the safety and security of these systems, it will be difficult to preserve, protect, or promote the overwhelming benefits that this rapidly expanding technology will bring for generations to come. Adopting lessons learned from years of military aviation experience can advance the UAS cause more quickly.