Outback Challenge helps focus CASA’s eye

In an article by Jane Symonds in Aviation Business Asia Pacific the leap forward made by competitors in this years competition was noted and Phil Presgrave of CASA made some interesting comments.

Its interesting to watch developments being made by countries like Australia and the UK with the USA just about to leave the starting blocks. Will the USA be strongly influenced by what is becoming best industry practice elsewhere??

CASA’s UAS specialist Phil Presgrave told ABM that future-proofing regulations was made complex by the rapidity of technology development, including ‘strong autonomy’ – fully autonomous vehicles making their own decisions and excluding humans from the system – and the potential introduction of ‘optionally piloted’ aircraft.

In partnership, industry and CASA are also developing a range of competencies that will fit into the national training framework to provide qualifications and potentially licensing for UAS operations, as well as working towards development of UAV airworthiness certifications.
CASA currently requires prospective UAV pilots to complete the aviation theory exam components of the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), but Presgrave said that both CASA and industry saw that system as “not the optimum”.

“We’re working with industry to develop a range of competencies that will provide qualifications and potentially licensing equated to each level of activity.
“So [for example] the lowest level of activity at the lowest level of competence relates to radio-controlled manual flying. What we need to do then is examine whether all the things they’re given in the PPL exams, and the theory and ground school leading up to that, are applicable.”
Presgrave said an industry task team was working to tailor the qualification structure, which would potentially include levels of UA licensing dependent on complexity of task and aircraft, similar to levels of regular pilot licensing.

Appropriate competencies, syllabi, exams and licensing could be developed during 2011, allowing the content to become part of the Aviation Training Package next year or during 2012.

But it is not just the pilots of unmanned systems who require training for the successful deployment of UAS in shared airspace. While the UAV Challenge has shown that UAVs and manned aircraft can be co-ordinated without incident – during the 2009 competition, there were in excess of 50 aircraft movements at the Kingaroy airfield – Presgrave said there was a need to educate the conventional aircraft community on their role and responsibilities in relation to UAS.
“I believe that there’s certainly got to be not only lessons learnt, but an education program that we can put together for convention pilots and UAV pilots relating to airspace access, aerodrome circuit procedures, all of those sorts of things.”

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Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.