Whether you refer to them as drones, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), these smart flying machines are a hot topic with massive potential for businesses that use them and the people who operate them.
To some, unmanned flight is just interesting, to some it is frightening and to some it is a fun hobby, but there are people amongst us who are choosing unmanned aviation as a career (you will learn more about this in an upcoming post). The UAS industry is growing at an unbelievable pace. New applications of UAS are being introduced to the general public, as well as the business community, all the time.
In 1920s, the general public was terrified of airplanes. There were no regulations or oversight, whatsoever. Airplanes were called death machines. Nobody wanted them flying over their property or anywhere near their families. Since technological advancement does not typically ask the general public’s opinion and evolves faster than regulation, several years went by before the US federal government finally stepped in to provide structure to the aeronautical activities that were taking place. The Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) was formed by the US government in 1938 to regulate, oversee and assure the safe operation of flying aircraft. This was the starting point of aviation’s golden era.
CAA is the predecessor to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) which was formed by the Federal Aviation Act of 1958. With regulations in place, commercial aviation boomed like never before. Air cargo, passenger jets, general aviation, agricultural applications and much more sprung up. Once again, the industry evolved itself to become an inseparable part of modern society at the time. The flying machines earlier referred to as death machines were the angels of hope for connecting the world and an unforgettable agent in shaping the world as we know it today.
We are currently experiencing a similar trend as the 1930s with respect to unmanned flight. Believe it or not, we are currently sitting on the edge of a second golden era in aviation. The FAA proposed new regulations for commercial UAV operations in 2015 that are expected to be enacted in June 2016 as Part 107. In addition, Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) creates a mechanism for further experimentation by granting the Secretary of Transportation the authority to determine whether an airworthiness certificate is required for a UAS to operate safely in the National Airspace System (NAS).
What this means in particular for us, aviation enthusiasts and professionals, is that a vast world of unknown new opportunities can now be unlocked legally and safely. With a clear operating framework in place, unmanned aviation is set to take off across all kinds of use cases like:
- Building Management
- Search and rescue
- Cinematography and photography
- GIS and mapping
- Land surveys
- Urban infrastructure planning, inspections and maintenance
- Wildlife management
- Law enforcement and border protection
- Water management
…and hundreds of more applications that will be unlocked in the future.
Roof Inspection Using Drones
One thing is for certain: although it is going to take time for the general public to accept UAVs as a part of their everyday lives, they are absolutely going to play a major role in the future of aviation.