Why are pilots worried about drones?
Pilots and Air Traffic Control operators are unable to establish visual contact with drones in the air. This poses great safety risks, as drones that come into contact with an airplane engine could cause serious problems.
Bird strikes are not uncommon relatively speaking, and passenger aircraft can fly with a single engine. But there are concerns however, that a metallic object containing lithium batteries could cause failure that cannot be contained, with debris impacting on the air frame.
Not to mention the danger of a drone crashing through a cockpit window. So an increasing amount of drone traffic means an increasing potential risk of lethal accidents if they cannot be seen and are not regulated in a safe and efficient manner.
Drones are hard to spot in the air
Authorities & legislation
Authorities are faced with an increasing amount of drone traffic, both professionally and recreationally. Commercial drones already provide many societal benefits in industries such as agriculture, construction and infrastructure.
The challenge authorities are faced with is to provide a legal framework, such as the initiatives in Europe, that can sustain healthy growth of the drone industry, whilst also maintaining the existing safety culture in aviation by eliminating and preventing safety concerns without hampering the industry’s growth.
Apart from professional drone pilots, many drone pilots often do not have any aviation experience and are mainly hobbyists. The hobbyists represent the majority of drone pilots, and quite often they are unaware of the fact that lower airspace is in fact regulated.
This lack of knowledge has already caused nearly lethal and tragic accidents in recent history. Additionally, it is up to authorities to not only provide the legal framework to prevent lethal accidents, but to also increase awareness of the regulations in place among hobbyists and professional drone pilots.
What about drone pilots?
As of now, drone pilots often find the current legislation surrounding drones quite confusing and a bit of a hassle. In Belgian law for example, commercial drone pilots are required to file a request along with a risk analysis to the respective authority, the DGLV.
Commercial drone pilots are often faced with an administrative hassle to just get a flight approved
If a drone pilot wishes to operate nearby an airport, they must also register with air traffic control. If they wish to fly above areas which are property of a city, permission must be asked from the city as well. The whole process can take around 5 days to more than a month sometimes.
This makes it hard to do business, as the whole procedure doesn’t only take up a lot of time, but it’s quite expensive as well. So, these costs are also felt by the commercial drone pilots’ customers, who often don’t understand the delay either.
Drone pilots often feel that the administrative hassle has no real benefit to safety and is more of a burden.
Why Unmanned Traffic Management?
Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems, such as Unifly’s UTM software, offer a solution to the privacy, security and safety concerns of both authorities and drone pilots.
It offers answers to critical questions such as how to identify and track drones, how to manage the airspace they fly in, and how to declare where they can or cannot fly.
UTM software is essential in the safe integration of drones into airspace
It also gives authorities and drone pilots an overview of drones in the air, and professional drone pilots can request flight routes for authorities to approve. And in this manner, the current administrative hassle can be avoided and streamlined.
UTM software is an essential aspect in the safeguarding of the airspace and the regulation of the ever-increasing drone traffic. It provides a safe and reliable bridge between unmanned and manned aviation.