A multi-disciplinary team from MITRE set out with the goal of creating a holistic assessment process that measures and evaluates societal benefits of using a drone in addition to considering aviation operational risk—a methodology that considers societal perception and acceptance of drone use for a specific purpose in a holistic manner. This collaborative effort resulted in a framework that can be used to inform FAA decision-making based on assessing air and ground safety, societal benefits, and societal acceptance for a specific drone operation.
The paper reviews how the positive benefits of drones can be recognised, quantified and viewed in a holistic manner to inform safety decisions that would enable increased and purposeful use of drones with societal benefits.
The MITRE team included members from the Enterprise Program and Risk Management Department, who work with federal government sponsors (e.g., Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Intelligence Community agencies) to develop, integrate, and use risk assessment processes applicable to their operations. The team also included members from MITRE departments focused on optimization and hazard identification, who are experienced in drone integration efforts and safety assessment processes both within the FAA and internationally. Completing the team was a human-centered engineer from MITRE Labs’ Transportation Human Centered Experimentation department, who is familiar with the human components and social considerations of drone systems and operations.
Collaborative and technical engagement resulted in a framework that can be used to inform FAA decision-making based on assessing air and ground safety, societal benefits, and societal acceptance for a specific drone operation. The framework allows for a more rigorous and quantitative review of the many factors that come into play for a drone operation and allows those factors to be weighted by importance.
Safety assessment is a critical aspect of the framework, and in some cases safety concerns may be weighed with other factors, such as the benefits the drone operation provides. The safety assessment process introduced in this framework evolved from the FAA’s current process. It’s an expanded, more comprehensive safety examination. The framework is not designed to remove human assessment or approval process of the proposed drone operation, but rather to better inform the FAA analyst and allow the decision-making process to be more streamlined and inclusive.
The framework is intended for regulator assessment of drone applications for waiver and/or exemption. The computational functions and calculations are designed to be contained in a web-based platform, inclusive of algorithms. This construct allows waiver applicant entry of required data, application tracking, and structured regulator assessment of an application.
View the assessment here.
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