What can we all do to help the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations? That was the question posed by DroneUp’s Tom Walker at a joint session with Walmart’s Rachel Griffin at the 2021 Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas.
In a keynote speech, he said:
“We can conduct statistical analyses to demonstrate how safe it is to fly UAS in low altitude airspace — and show that right now, the probability that a professionally operated drone will cause significant damage to property or a person is strikingly low. Our team is wrapping up a month’s long study that will show precisely that.
“We can share, with the industry and the FAA, data collected during training and daily operations, which can inform the standards developed for operating commercial UAS at scale.
“We can develop and standardize training and document thorough operating procedures that ensure the highest achievable levels of safety.
“We can help define “acceptable risk.” Most of you travelled here on an airplane — and no airplane flight is 100% safe. Candidly, from what I’ve seen lately, the most dangerous part of air travel today is likely the passengers. And we don’t have any of those, yet. We operate our entire air transportation system under the concept of accepting some level of risk. Commercial UAS operations should function in the same manner. In short, we can no longer let perfect get in the way. If we try to make safety a certainty, we will never make progress.
“We must level the playing field. The largest players, with the deepest pockets, should not be the only voices influencing new regulatory and compliance requirements. As we all know, and it’s not by accident, that often leads to functionally unachievable rules for the other, smaller startups.
“I’ll go further and say this; it is time to start making regulatory decisions based on data, not on the opinions of the loudest voices in the room. We now have sound data, and everyone here knows what that data shows.
“We are all part of a rapidly emerging industry. No “one” company will make it successful. It will require all of us. BVLOS, long-range delivery, AAM, and what we have yet to imagine. It can all be achieved efficiently through industry collaboration.”
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