What has manned aviation learnt over the last 100 years and what is the relevance to the drone industry?
When you buy your first drone, typically a 1-3 kg multicopter and fly it around your local park for the first time, any relevance to commercial manned aviation must seem so far away. Yet the physical characteristics that enable the drone to fly in the first place mean we are now sharing the same airspace and it’s in everyones interests to understand how we can operate together. In addition factors like wind, space weather and local aviation facilities impact anyone who is flying. As an NQE, in our CAA Approved Drone Training Course (UAQ) to get your PFAW, we go into this in greater detail but let us look at some factors from manned aviation that are relevant to the drone industry.
A lot of commonly purchased drones have no-fly zones built into the software that prohibit flight too close to airports. Why is this the case? As a recreational user or commercial operator, we need to be aware of our surroundings when we fly our drone. Are we flying close to airports, electrical installations, nuclear power facilities? A big part of aviation is the concept of airmanship, which can be described simply as using common sense. When we fly our drone, what if things go wrong – have we made even a simple plan? Situational awareness might mean something as simple as having the phone number of the local airport or hospital – if flying your drone in the park it hits someone by accident or if the drone flies away. In manned Aviation we are always advised to think ahead. From a simple recreational perspective just 5 minutes looking at a handful of websites will start to put you in the correct, anticipatory mode to go flying with confidence.
Another key thing manned aviation has is an open reporting system to highlight our just culture. What is a just culture? As a part of your drone training to get your PFAW, in our UAQ Ground School, UAVAir emphasises that although everyone is working in a commercial environment, the only way for us to learn in this developing industry is to have a culture of reporting incidents. The CAA have a Mandatory Reporting System (CAP 382) and by making a positive contribution mean we can identify trends and problems which in isolation may seem like one-offs but by collectively working together
- We can see directly what drone problems the industry have
- The aviation community see drone operators engaging with other airspace users
- As individual operators we realise we will not get financially punished for willing to be open enough to admit our mistakes and when things go wrong.When you unpack any electrical white-goods you get at home, how many of us read the instruction manual from cover to cover? Probably only a fraction of us. Yet as manned aviators before operating any form of aircraft, we have a series of procedures and checklists to run through to make sure that nothing has been missed – it’s one of the cornerstones of an aviation Safety Management System. Before attending our CAA Approved Drone Training Course and preparing for yourFlight Assessment – how will you prepare for it? At UAVAir we explain the rigour and discipline that you must follow in preparing to take your drone to the skies. From issues such as battery management, logging your flight hours, doing the same calibration check before every flight – you know that you have a set way of setting up the drone that works every time. Then what if something goes wrong later on – in aviation we refer to something called a Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) that has emergency response drills which we can use and apply extremely quickly, effectively and rigourously. As a part of your UAVAir Operations Manual we help you design something that as drone operator will be useful for you.
In a lot of jobs, there is a big push on being the best above all others – but this can often be to the detriment of the group dynamic. When aviation safety is involved acting in isolation is rarely the correct approach. Crew Resource Management or CRM as it is more commonly known is a skill set employed by manned aviation, by using all available assets to aid the decision-making process. So from a drone perspective – how will you interact with a Camera Operator, Observers, members of the public to make them view you as a professional and make it a collective effort. This is key in emergency planning, that the whole team is pulling in the same direction and know their roles and responsibilities.
So therefore when you start thinking about the relevance of manned aviation to the drone industry, both recreational and professional – there are many facets that are directly applicable and from our perspective as a CAA Approved National Qualified Entity (NQE), we use a mixture of airline pilots and professional drone pilots to welcome you into the world of aviation and stress the importance of the above in our Unmanned Aviation Qualification (UAQ) drone training course to get your Permit for Aerial Work. It’s one of our biggest selling points and why our students recommend our course. View our testimonials >>
Aleks Kowalski, UAVAir MD and First Officer flying the A320.
Aleks holds an ATPL and PGCE from Cambridge University