Evans Incorporated attended the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium (https://www.faa.gov/uas/2017_symposium/ ) outside of Washington D.C. on March 27th through 29th, 2017. The Symposium gave stakeholders the opportunity to talk face-to-face with a cross-section of government and industry representatives about regulations, research, and other initiatives to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS). The focus was on initiatives to overcome technical challenges to safe UAS operations, as well as industry partnerships advancing integration.
The FAA spent some time recapping the progress made to-date, saying that “the easy work is behind us.” There have been over 200,000 downloads of their B4UFly app, over 770,000 UAS registrations, and over 35,000 remote pilot certifications. As far as the term “UAS Integration,” the FAA says it just as much of an “inclusion” as it is an “integration.” Then they discussed what’s next for the FAA, which included discussion about the aviation community, UAS at airports, automation, collaboration with industry, and rulemaking. Most notably, there was discussion about the historical role of FAA with airspace regulation and how this new technology is testing what used to be practical limitations. The FAA is managing its resources strategically to mitigate risks to the NAS and flying public.
We were happy to hear discussion about the role of Safety Risk Management (SRM) and the overall culture of safety in the UAS industry, consistent with industry concerns conveyed during this year’s Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo. Establishing a safety culture is one of the aspects of the Evans UAS CAARMA suite of services, where we help organizations to integrate human-centered safety aspects into their operations and we believe this is one of the main components of successful implementation of UAS programs.
There was also discussion about future airport concepts and permanent or portable “drone ports” that could greatly impact the utility of unmanned systems, especially in the area of transportation. While these concepts are being envisioned, FAA is taking it a step at a time with the evaluation of and rulemaking for operations over people and beyond visual line of sight – two key components that are necessary for the technology to advance.
Discussing the current authorization and waiver process, an interesting question was posed about the “options available to an operator,” which summarized the effort required to attain a waiver. The conundrum was that the proponent may need safety data to get a waiver, but needs the waiver (authorization) to attain safety data which can only be fully achieved through a real operational exercise – a circular dependency that makes it difficult to navigate the authorization and waiver process, and suggests unique partnerships with research and development firms may afford stronger industry collaboration around safety cases.
Evans was proud to be part of the conversation at the Symposium and is proud to be involved with the implementation of UAS regulations at the FAA. We look forward to helping industry address some of the issues discussed while applying our UAS CAARMA™ services suite.