Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flying Robots Should Take Care of Themselves

At an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Exploratory Meeting on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in Montreal recently, the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) called for measures to make UAVs compatible with existing air traffic, ensuring equivalent or higher levels of safety.

Major concerns raised at the meeting included the following:

* UAV certification standards must equal or exceed conventional aircraft standards;
* The need for UAVs to reliably "see"-and-avoid manned aircraft -- especially for the smaller, hard-to-see UAVs (like those already in use in several municipalities);
* Airspace access must not be restricted to accommodate UAV operations;
* Existing manned aircraft should not be required to add equipment to assist with UAV compatibility -- especially as more than 100,000 aircraft have no electrical system that would support such a requirement.

The bottom line is that the pilots are worried that the rapid growth in UAV's will force human pilots out of the sky.

This may become a more significant issue as police forces, farmers, forestry services, and environmental monitoring begin to launch low-cost autonomous drones to improve their operations.

For many of the lightweight and hand-launch UAV models it is not possible to add the sensors and control equipment necessary to allow them to avoid obstacles, like small aircraft, autonomously.

Who will decide who has the rights to the sky?

:: Aero-News Network: The Aviation and Aerospace World's Daily/Real-Time News and Information Service



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