A trusted source of Asia-Pacific commercial aviation news and analysis

JUNE 2018

Industry Insight Special Report

Drone industry booms across globe

Airways, New Zealand’s Air Navigation Services Provider, has completed the world’s first comprehensive review of commercial and recreational use of drones. The study provides valuable insights into the management of the growing army of drones worldwide.

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June 1st 2018

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Drone manufacturers and their customers are very confident there will be a significant increase in demand for drone services and they welcome a global code for safe operations in the sector, the world’s first comprehensive study of drone use has revealed. Read More »

New Zealand’s Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP), Airways, delivered its report on the state of the drone industry last month after conducting interviews with 1460 drone pilots that included 500 drone service providers.

Airways head of strategy, Trent Fulcher, said “businesses in the drone industry are telling us they expect significant growth and it is great to see that most users are aware of safety regulations and try to abide by them.

“But there is a clear gap in understanding and attitudes towards compliance and a division between commercial and recreational operators.”

The study revealed that commercial operators are more stringent about following rules. Seventy two per cent of them were always fully compliant with safe operations compared with 51% of recreational users.

Respondents were not as concerned about conforming to privacy regulations. Less than half of those surveyed ensured they had the necessary landowner approvals for a flight.

“Drone operators are telling us there should be stricter enforcement of rules and harsher penalties for drone operators who don’t comply with legal codes,” Fulcher said.

“They want freer access to air space and simpler processes for land owner approval for flights.

“Drone operators also are becoming impatient with restrictions on Beyond Visual Sight Operations (BVLOS). BVLOS would be revolutionary in the industry as it would allow drone package deliveries and the development of the autonomous vehicle industry.”

The New Zealand ANSP intends to develop a national drone traffic management system. The trial of the AirMap drone traffic management platform this year was the first step in the process.

The next step are pilot technologies that allow drones to be tracked accurately beyond pilots’ lines of sight and allow detection and avoidance capacities to safely separate them from other aircraft.

The ANSP has an online hub, AirShare, which informs drone users about how and where they can request clearance to fly from air traffic control.

In the May 2018 edition of Orient Aviation it was reported that airlines and airports are calling on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to quickly set up a global drone registry and develop a set of global standards for drone operations.

In September, ICAO will hold its second “Drone Enable” conference, this time in Chengdu. Delegates and speakers will have the goal of safely integrating drone traffic management systems with existing air traffic management providers.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) fully supports a global registry for the industry sector.

The association’s director of air traffic management infrastructure, Rob Eagles, said at a recent conference IATA would consider collaborating with ICAO by applying data analysis to the registry’s information to improve safety.

“An inclusion we would like to see in the registry, apart from compilation of data, would be incident and accident reporting,” Eagles said.

“A single registry would create a one-stop shop that would allow law enforcement to remotely identify and track unmanned aircraft along with each operator and owner.”

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all recreational and commercial drone operators to register their details online.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is evaluating responses from interested parties for “a regulatory road map” that will integrate drones into the country’s air space and air pathway systems.

CASA is considering the options of unmanned traffic management and detect and avoid technologies to prevent drone collisions.

Key findings of the study were:
Safety and regulations:
• Sixty per cent of drone users strictly comply with civil aviation rules when they fly and 37% comply where possible.
• Sixty per cent of drone users support mandatory registration
• Fifty nine per cent support compulsory training

Business outlook:
• Seventy per cent of drone-related businesses are expecting an increase in demand for their services with 20% expecting a significant increase.
• One third of drone businesses will employ more staff in 2018, with an average rate of four new hires.
• Forty three per cent of drone operators believed some civil aviation regulations should change to better support the growth of the drone industry.


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