There have been numerous natural disasters in the last ten years, the timescale in which civilian drones have truly become a thing. In 2010 volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland and the ash caused the largest reduction in civilian air traffic since the second world war.
Covid-19 is world wide and nothing on this scale has so dramatically reduced commercial air travel. General aviation is also coming to a halt as the pandemic makes it’s way around the world. Last week a small airfield in Dorset England, Henstridge, issued a warning to members of the club to not turn up if they felt ill. It cannot be long before authorities notice and close a rich man’s travel loophole. One that can leapfrog States spreading the virus.
Commercial flights are running empty to ensure that airlines don’t lose their slots at airports. Why are they being afforded protected airspace that others could use?
Much is wrong with how the airspace above us, a common right to be shared is being dished out. Especially now that money is on the table below 1000′ and above FL660.
A modern sky ought to be able to reshape itself at the push of a button. Airways disappear and air traffic zones shrink. All to accommodate whatever situation has changed. Emergency and rescue flights manned or unmanned should take priority.
Relying on paper charts with updates occurring once or twice a year is madness in 2020. Digital renderings could be on every passenger and pilots smartphone, tablet or laptop updated in flight. With an old fashioned chart there just in case multiple digital methods fail.
A proactive sky would be simple to promulgate and adapt to need rather than greed.
As I write delivery drones already have a quieter sky in which to fly as many airliners stay in the hanger, and small airfields start to do the right things and close.
Regulation and false expectations have held delivery drones back. Regulators not coming to the party and permitting widespread objective flight testing to independent standards. Venture capital foolery that will never fly, has muddied the water and in some cases put pressure on regulators that shuts the door on practical less sexy solutions.
Medical delivery drones could and should be part of the coronavirus emergency supply delivery chain.
Drones are digital devices able to comply with onerous regulations, under protest, easily.
The problem is that legacy manned aircraft are not adaptive enough and regulators have little interest in a modern sky.
We have always done it this way.