The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a new report calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to improve its safety risk management protocols for small UAS. "Although FAA collects data on several types of safety events involving small UAS, the accuracy and completeness of the data are questionable. For example, since 2014, pilots and others have reported to FAA over 6,000 sightings of UAS, often flying near manned aircraft or airports, but FAA officials told GAO that FAA cannot verify that small UAS were involved in most of the sightings. Officials explained that small UAS are often difficult for pilots to identify definitively and typically are not picked up by radar. Such data limitations impede the agency's ability to effectively assess the safety of small UAS operations. FAA is taking steps to improve its data. For example, it is developing a web-based system for the public to report any sightings of UAS that are perceived to be a safety concern and a survey of UAS users on their UAS operational activity. FAA did not have time frames for completing these efforts, but according to FAA, each of the efforts is underway and at varying stages of development. FAA is also evaluating technologies for detecting and remotely identifying UAS, and that could improve data on unsafe use."
Unmanned Aerial Online reports on a new bill introduced in Congress that would give the federal government authority to take action against UAS that pose an "unacceptable security risk" to public safety. "The text of the bill states that DHS and DOJ personnel would be authorized to take action against drones for the 'safety, security or protection' of a 'covered facility or asset.' The legislation would allow them to 'detect, identify, monitor and track the [UAS] without prior consent, including by means of intercept or other access of a wire communication, an oral communication or an electronic communication used to control the [UAS].' Moreover, they would be able to warn the UAS operator through 'passive or active and direct or indirect physical, electronic, radio and electromagnetic means'; 'disrupt control' of the drone; 'seize or exercise control,' as well as confiscate, the drone; and 'use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy' the drone."
Bloomberg reports that U.S. aviation regulators are planning on requiring drone owners to place a government-assigned ID number on the outside of their drones. "Current rules require drone owners to register with the Federal Aviation Administration and more than 1 million people have done so. They must identify their drones, but the marker can be placed inside battery compartments or other internal areas where it can’t been readily seen. The FAA’s move is the latest step taken by the agency and U.S. security agencies to bring greater control over the new frontier in flight that has been plagued by rule violations, a handful of collisions with other aircraft and growing concerns about their potential use by terrorists."
The Drive notes that a firefighter in New Mexico used his personal camera drone in a search-an-rescure mission that ended up saving lives. "Fortunately, one member had taken his personal drone along, as he was coincidentally showing it off earlier to a commander. 'That was forward thinking by our guys,' said Lujan. This is where teamwork, strategy, and drone tech came into play, and resulted in every person involved getting to live another day. The drone whirred off, provided a bird’s-eye view for command, who then in turn directed the search party and the located hikers how to navigate out of their situation. The dog was reportedly the biggest hurdle to overcome, as the 14-year-old animal weighted a hearty 60 pounds. He had become immobile during the hike, presumably due to dehydration and general exhaustion."
KOAT Action News reports on the use of drone technology in a rescue situation. The Bernalillo County Fire Department was dispatched to the area of Otero and Tunnel Canyons around 5 p.m. Saturday, May 12, 2018 to rescue two stranded hikers. Crews were able to pinpoint the hikers’ location using a ping from their cell phone call to 911, a spokesperson for BCFD says. The rescue team hiked about a mile-and-a-half into the woods to find the hikers and their injured dog who couldn’t walk. But the team got disoriented as well. 'Because of the terrain, it makes it that much more difficult so you can potentially just be doing circles if you're trying to find that trail again,' said Lt. David Lujan, a spokesperson for the department. A firefighter used his personal drone to help find the hikers and rescue team and lead them back to the command post."
IPP Opens New Avenues For Testing Benefits From Drones
Washington, DC – May 9, 2018 – The Alliance for Drone Innovation (ADI) (droneinnovation.org), a new policy-oriented coalition of manufacturers, suppliers, and software developers of personal and professional drones, congratulates the 10 applicants chosen for the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), which will explore new ways for drones to be safely regulated and integrated into the national airspace system in a variety of settings and jurisdictions.
CBS News highlights the potential use of drones to deliver blood in emergency situations. "Palo Alto, California, hopes to become the first U.S. city to use unmanned aircraft to deliver blood from a blood bank to a hospital. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is reviewing the city's proposal, along with about 150 others. The agency will approve 10 projects to move forward next month. Drones delivering blood in emergencies could be the future of health care. At the Stanford Blood Center in the heart of Silicon Valley, Dr. Tho Pham's team collects about 200 pints of blood each day. Most of that supply is stored at the hospital, reports CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal. But sometimes, there's a need for more."
Josh Haner discusses how he uses drone technology is impacting his line of work and personal life in an article for the New York Times. "The main concern with drones is safety. It’s imperative that people understand the laws in their country and in any country where they are considering using a drone. This is one of the most important parts of my job — applying for permission from international governments to safely use a drone in their airspace. Beyond the official legal approval, which varies from country to country, many times I’m bringing a drone into a small community and I want to address potential ethical concerns. For example, in Bolivia, our journalists made multiple trips to a remote village to familiarize the community with the idea of what a drone is, and to get permission from the village leaders before bringing this new technology into their community."
WWSB reports on the use of drones in hazmat situations. "Southern Manatee Fire Rescue is using drones to determine the risk associated with some hazmat situations. The technology takes the place of the first in entry teams and the drone determines if there are any hazardous materials in the area. Then, the teams know how to properly and safely respond without putting crews in danger. 'Anything we can do to help the public, that's why we're here.'"