The Wild West: the time has come to adopt UAV safety systems

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The following post is a guest piece by Davis Hunt, the Owner of ViewPoint Aviation, a company focused on UAS’s. Davis has 20+ years experience in commercial aviation and the UAS sphere. ViewPoint Aviation is eagerly working within the UAS community to safely and efficiently integrate drones into the NAS.

The emergence of the UAS industry (non-defense specific) represents a landmark moment in aviation history. The UAS industry will create hundreds of thousands of jobs and create technologically innovative solutions for a variety of industries.

Even with the unbound potential of the unmanned marketplace, the UAS industry has to overcome two perceptions that have been established by media reporting to date: drones as a weapon and drones are for spying. As a commercial operator, these are biases that I encounter literally every day, and do my best to overcome.

In the process of overcoming these perceptions, we are literally in the midst of the “wild west” mindset of an industry. With the Pirker case headed for the Court of Appeals, and realistically, any non-binding cease and desist letter from the FAA not providing actual deterrent, everyone feels equal footing in UAS operation.

Specifically because we are at such a point of genesis as an industry, the time has come for both recreational and commercial users to adopt the safety systems, employ flight planning and equipment usage tracking, track flight times, and develop field deployable checklists that minimize and mitigate risks. The uses of these type safety systems are the basis for both private and commercial aviation in the modern era. These systems are both proven and auditable.

The Commercial UAS/UAV industry is currently at a juncture where bad incidents will be used to frame the media debate. Such incidents will reinforce the FAA’s (and public) attitude toward this industry and provide validation for draconian regulations that will greatly hamper the UAS industry. With money being the only barrier to entry for consumers in terms of purchasing UAS’s, from the wildly popular DJI Phantom, to 3D Robotics platforms, to professional-grade Skyjibs. Owning and operating a UAS, even without incident, is not a guarantee of safety or a professional attitude reflective of the importance of operating a UAS.

As someone who genuinely has enjoyed a lifetime of involvement in aviation, and more recently, the UAS space, I consider it my greatest legacy to be able to reach out to those who are entering UAS operation, regardless of level, and teach responsible operation, proper implementation of safety systems, and most importantly, the proper respect for the significance of having this freedom. In life, I actually think being able to pass along a skill, and the safety oriented mindset that will further that skill, is the greatest reward.

Regardless of drone you own, what has to change in our community is the mindset and safety practices of the operator.

-Davis Hunt
CEO, ViewPoint Aviation

Leave a Comment

  • Hi Sally. Thank you for sharing this article. In Australia we are already allowed to fly UAVs (now called RPA’s) commercially and we have developed a mobile app that helps out with the Safety Management System side of the UAV industry. It is called RPAS Logger and currently available on Android Play store and July 2014 on the Apple App Store.

  • Davis Hunt says:

    The only App currently available, based on my research, is “Air Plan”, developed by Josh Kahane, currently available for iPad for $19.99. It’s a good foundation for UAS specific flight logs and checklists. Given the attention being given to the UAS market, I’m sure many more will follow.

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