Has General Aviation just shot itself in the foot?

Has General Aviation just shot itself in the foot?

There is an unfounded perception that drones are dangerous and going to bring down hundreds of passenger aircraft.

Gatwick was shut down and chaos ensued based on zero evidence of a drone in the sky. It was a chicken licken story from start to finish that created a narrative for regulators and CUAS sales folks around the world.

Police forces involved are refusing to answer Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and were due, just before COVID chaos erupted to face legal action over their lack of transparency.

General Aviation kills hundreds of people every year around the world. Most deaths are preventable, pilot error is a major factor. This is in part due to attitudes. Human factors are a big deal. Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT), low level operations, midair collisions and fuel management are some of the most popular ways to kill friends and family.

There are calls for tracking of not only drones but their pilots as well, all transmitted in the open for anyone to see. Remote ID as we know and love it.

Its obvious where the pilot of the manned aircraft is, but it is not so obvious where the aircraft might be.

Very old technology, ADS-B designed in the 1990’s has been mandated for certain sorts bits of airspace but many aircraft have not complied and if they stay out of that airspace don’t need to.

Grassroots efforts to decrease midair collisions in the gliding world have led to widespread adoption of low cost, better modern systems (FLARM, Open Glider Network, Pilotaware) in the paragliding, gliding and ballooning world. We are in the situation where the simplest forms of flight are the easiest to track and their pilots have the best situational awareness. This is not the group that I think has an issue.

How come we have got this far without mentioning how GA has shot itself in the foot?

Well here we go, GA Facebook groups have lit up with folks continuing to fly and spouting defiance. Nobody is going to stop them, what right does anybody have. They are self isolating in the aircraft.

Seemingly they miss the point that an incident or accident would use resources that could be used for the bigger ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

I would contend that the keep flying mantra is displaying three of the five human factors hazardous attitudes. Anti-Authority, invulnerability and macho. These folks should have their log books pulled and records checked. Do they have the right attitude to operate an aircraft?

I have believed for a while that general aviation will eventually be dragged into the Remote ID debacle and these flying cowboys are helping to open the door.


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.