There are multiple Challenges a Professional drone pilot is going to face over the next several years. Some are cultural challenges that have to be addressed over time. Some are legal challenges, but the most critical challenges very widely based on how they professionally apply the technology namely technical and proficiency challenges. This will be the first in a series of how professional pilots addresses these problems systematically. It starts with a look at a general overview of the problems.
Professional Application of “Drones” or unmanned vehicles.
This is the first challenge for the professional drone pilot or company. How you apply drone technology. Odds are your geographic location will dictate your choice or choices, but your background, market demands, and additional requirements will also dictate those requirements. However, ultimately weather you are a business adding a drone to your operation or an Entrepreneur crazy enough to start a business dedicated to drones, you must decide how you apply the drone technology.
Generally there are three ways they can be applied: as a single drone dedicated business like Righteous Flight, as a component of one of your business model moving forward, or you can out source the drone work. Each has their advantages and disadvantages and in the post for this section, you will get a chance to look at these options.
However, it is also important to when you begin to consider applying UAV or Drone tech to a business model much deeper harder questions. These get complex and some apply to only one type of application or the other. But as a business considers the options that business can get better define the answer of application. The point of asking will mainly boil down to your final vision or inspiration for your business and this still really new technology.
Biggest challenge here is how you define the Aircraft. “drone” and “unmanned aerial vehicle” are both misnomers. A drone is always manned so while the legal and technical terms are close they are not accurate due to the law. CFR 14 Part 107 clearly states you must have a trained Remote Pilot at the controls at all times to insure safe flight. If a drone was truly unmanned, you could set it and forget it, just let the thing fly. A Drone means it operates as some sort of hive mind; this is only true in very limited applications. So the first thing that needs to be solved is what is this technology.
We will cover in depth how Righteous Flight came up with the term Enhanced Remote Controlled Aircraft Systems over the next series of post. Ultimately ERCAS systems reflect a closer definition to pilot culture and terms that are more accurate due to the law. Ask any pilot or aviation technician if you remove the controls and interfaces from an aircraft, without removing any of the actual systems, you do not have an aircraft you have a really expensive piece of modern art. ERCAS encompasses the flight controls, a transmitter or ground station, the Unmanned Vehicle, the thingy in the air, in the water, or on the ground, and the professional behind the controls.
Now you will run into a series of cultural walls, and you will find your self-creating or using them on a regular basis. The general over view of the cultural challenges are; UAS pilots are not real or professional pilots, UAS Pilots Kill Jobs, a UAV is a toy I can use as a tool, Operating them are cheep, and then the most dangerous, The technology is relatively safe and benign. If you are deploying drones in your business, these are challenges as any type of flight according to the FAA has one overriding rule, keep it safe, and your business has another overriding rule, keep it affordable and profitable. Most of these challenges you will end up addressing as you address them when you read the challenges article on Cultural Challenges.
This is the one thing that will bog your organization down. This is because the FAA did not write any form of endorsement or training rules into Part 107 instead they chose to use waivers. Nine chances out of ten you will need at least one waiver on top of getting what is called the part 107 Certificate of Authorization.
Now you can do all this your self and it not cost much but chances are you will spend well over a year constantly retaking the Part 107 exam you need before you look into the waivers you need on top of that, so every 14 days add $160 to your operational expenses, or add around $100- $200 up front and $160 three months latter. Insurance of the drone falls into this. The FAA does not require insurance on a drone. And waivers you can get them for free if you invest the time. But if your smart it can take a few years to get them on your own or you can hire an attorney to do them that specializes in aviation law to do the waivers and they cost around $3000.
Insurance will cost at least an extra $20000 a year to get fully covered. Or you can chose to go through a series of memberships that is less expensive but questionable on how it covers them. Finally, at some point you will need the attorney. We will cover why that is true when we get to legal challenges in depth and what to look for when you do in the post on Legal challenges.
Now the second post after this general over view is where we start looking at where the grindstone meets the material. Technical challenges will have to constant ly be met. Unfortunately, there will never be a way to professionally figure out how to meet those exact challenges. What will be talked about in this post is mainly how to identify those challenges using Righteous flight as the example and how answering those challenges have been done for Righteous Flight.
Ultimately these challenges are met after asking a series of questions. First How to do the ERCAS Flight safely, How to make the set up for a ERCAS flight more efficient and less time consuming. What type or types of aviation environments you will be working in during the ERCAS flights. As you ask those, you will begin looking at equipment to be used and aircraft systems to be used. You will also answer the type of control systems to be used.
By far this is the shortest if not most important series of questions and will be the next post in the series for that very reason. The United States has the safest National Air Space in the World. While the FAA mainly guards that reputation, it is not their responsibility to create it just to enforce it. If you are adding a UAV/UAS/Drone/or as we call them ERCAS to your operation or starting a business that specializes in Piloting these systems. You ultimately are the only person who can create a safe environment.
To do so you will need to look at your organization. It does not matter if you are The Disney Company, Federal Express, or if your Caudill Seed and Warehouse or one of the several Agronomy companies in your area. You could be Ron Howard, JJ Abrams, Michael Bay, or James Cameron while in the film and video production circles you are extremely well respected or you can be in any number of industries and never fully realize the technology’s potential for your industry. Righteous Flight as an example primarily focuses on the use of the technology in film and video and we are setting up to see the technology used to it’s fullest potential that means the technology as it is better developed will yield more creative freedom, while in the FAA Rules, while doing things previous technology could not do. In the process it is most likely we will see challenges across the basic ones mentioned in this post. An example is the Teamsters work heavily in the use of cameras and on film sets. It can cost jobs if not responsibly used while not creating a better film. IT becomes a catch twenty two scenario as safe video production with the technology will require organizations like the teamsters to help move the technology properly and safely out of the theoretical and infancy phase it is in now to a solid tool for filmmakers so Righteous flight has reached out to them as a source.
Now your organization after finding the personal professional challenges needs to take the hardest look. Proficiency! Can your organization afford to have a dedicated UAS Pilot? Are you proficient enough? If you have flown or used a “drone” or model aircraft fewer than two years or more you need to see if anyone in your company has. If no one in your company has, your only option until that happens is to out source the drone technology needs until someone has flown that long or has been formally trained. There is no way around this. It does not matter how good of an eye they have for visuals they have in films or how well they know your industry specifically. Proficiency is now defined by the FAA not you or your industry and that means flight time. If your not willing to sacrifice one of your people to do nothing but fly the drone, or create a position specifically for the UAS Pilot, You have one option outsource. A person who has 15 years experience and as it grows the Remote Pilots will have at least 1 year of formal training and two years of mentorship flies righteous Flight’s flights. But once you decide to integrate drones in your operation you have to measure the cost closely and not just benefits.
Most Blogs on “Drones” and UAV’s say it is cheep. They will not tell you the additional cost. In this series, even though, Righteous Flight makes its money off organizations outsourcing Drone technology, A completely informed client or potential client is easier to work with than a client who knows nothing about the technology. Also as a pilot first, other job second, company it is the FAA rule that we insure a safe informed public when it come to the deployment of this new technology. So if a company reads our blog and decide to do the operation they hopefully, by reading this series on Challenges will be more informed and able to set up a safer operation. At the End of the day when it comes to flight safety is everyone’s business!