Flight Safety Foundation recently urged the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to accelerate efforts to fashion appropriate standards and recommended practices for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones.
In a Feb. 21 letter to ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu, Foundation President and CEO Jon Beatty also urged all countries to “intensify efforts to develop proportionate and risk-based approaches for drone laws and regulations that ensure the public’s safety, including by direct regulation of recreational drones, with adequate tracking and identification.” He also encouraged regulators to consider mandating technologies such as geo-fencing, altitude limiters and line-of-sight controls for equipment used by hobbyists. You can read the full letter here and the accompanying news release here.
I think it’s important to point out that the Foundation isn’t anti-drone. We recognize the technology’s potential benefits.
But it’s also important to point out that the Foundation is first and foremost about safety. We look at all new technologies through the prism of identifying and mitigating the risks posed by that technology. And we are fierce advocates of risk assessments and mitigation strategies that are grounded in data. Anecdotal evidence isn’t good enough.
That’s why it is essential that the industry take seriously the challenge of collecting, analyzing and sharing safety-related data involving drone operations. In its recent report “Drone Safety Risk: An Assessment,” the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority made clear that there still is a lot of research to be done into the consequences of collisions between drones and traditionally piloted aircraft. The industry also needs to ensure that information on drone–manned aircraft proximity sightings is accurate and doesn’t overstate (or understate) the risk.
Just as importantly, the industry needs to collect and analyze data from drone flight operations of all types so that it can begin to identify risks and mitigation strategies.
Drone technology is transformative, but the transformation needs to be managed for safety.