… could risk a hard landing. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) have been catapulted, quite literally, into the limelight of late, not least in this current issue. No less than three dedicated trade shows are being staged in the UK to promote airframes, control systems, payloads and services, and with the likes of Amazon, Google and Sony intent on exploiting the technology, the future looks bright.â©
Indeed, a recent House of Lords report reckons that the potential for jobs from drones could be as many as 150,000 by the year 2050. Even so, Baroness O’Cathain, sounded a note of caution. “But there’s also a risk — public understanding of how to use drones safely may not keep pace with people’s appetite to fly them. It would just take one disastrous accident to destroy public confidence and set the whole industry back.” â©
Much depends on regulation of platforms that range from consumer toys to highly sophisticated systems. In the UK, a constant drip feed of concerns over security, safety and privacy has provided ammunition for campaigners. Most recently, the Government has been forced to publish a list of drones use by Whitehall departments, release summaries of meetings held by the somewhat reclusive Cross-Government Working Group responsible for drone policy, and establish an “oversight board” to make drone policy more transparent.â©
The Civil Aviation Authority has also weighed-in with a new drone awareness initiative that highlights the risk of collision with commercial aircraft. For Tim Johnson, CAA Director of Policy, the initiative “… sets out the simple rules that all drone users should follow to ensure they comply with the law and support the safety of all airspace. If they do this they can avoid prosecution and a possible jail term or fine.” Few of the 300 organisations in the UK that are licensed to use drones for commercial or government purposes will need reminding of this. But what of the growing army of individuals and groups that aren’t? It could be a bumpy ride.