The need for a standard for public safety UAS standard has been discussed for years and we at Drone Pilot, Inc. (www.dronepilot.io) have taken developing those standards very seriously. It is with great interest then that the Airborne Law Enforcement Association has produced a draft standard based upon the input of agencies all across the U.S. These, on the surface, would appear to be common sense standards that would be familiar to any agency that reviews them. And then again, they are not!
What most agencies don’t seem to grasp or understand is that unmanned aircraft are indeed aircraft and have been defined as such by the Federal Aviation Administration. This is one of the reasons it is ILLEGAL to shoot down a “drone” because it is defined under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
This is the reason we have always treated the implementation of UA into any public safety agency the initiation of an aviation program and all the training, documentation, certification, and continuing education that goes along with it. As soon as a “hobbyist toy” is impressed into the duty of saving lives or impacting on the jobs of first responders, it just stepped up into the big leagues.
And the big leagues require training, maintenance, practice, and most important – commitment. Unmanned aircraft have the possibility of changing the complexion of public safety significantly. You would be hard pressed to name a single new technology that has the potential to allow a single individual to make such a big impact on any given incident. Just like fire fighters who study all the methods of fire suppression and the law enforcement officer that studies methods to diffuse potentially violent situations, so must the Remote Pilot In Command (RPIC) study to make the most effective use of his/or her chosen aerial tool.
It is interesting to note that we have gone from an attitude of “how do we introduce UA to public safety?” to one of “here is the standard we must use!”. Wasn’t it just last year when pundits were loudly decrying the use of UA as “big brother” and “militarizing” our public safety agencies? Now the education process has taken hold and our constituents DO want us to use the latest technology available to protect them from a world that has gotten increasingly rife with threats. So all those agencies out there considering UA be advised, take note, and prepare! We will be flying UA’s with AED’s to drop to patients quickly, we will be flying UA for over watch on dangerous missions, we will be flying UA on the dull, dirty, and dangerous work that puts our brothers and sisters in harm’s way unnecessarily. But we won’t do it without commitment and training.
If you have not seen the draft, here are links:
Drone Pilot would also like to invite you to a live Facebook feed on Sunday to compare the draft review to what we have been teaching for years. Do join in, do LIKE us, and do provide feedback!