Well Trained Pilots Key for Successful UAS Deployment; SMS Critical to Safe Operations of Drones

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ARTICLE: Arizona University prepares pilots to fly unmanned aircraft
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, AZ campus, is one of only three universities in the US with UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) courses. This is an industry that is attracting entrepreneurs, which may revolutionize other businesses and that will reignite a mature industry. This explosion will require creation of critical support and infrastructure assets.

Teaching the future “pilots” of these unmanned aerial vehicles, by Embry-Riddle and others, is one aspect required for the future development. The FAA has initiated a “roadmap” which will assess the viability of widely used, widely dispersed UAS facilities and operations; it has announced a competition to establish six large area sites to test this new technology. Ultimately, the government will have to devise an air traffic management technology that assures safety in its NextGen suite of systems.

The FAA and the aviation industry have recently substantially enhanced its performance in all dimensions of safety by focusing on numbers. The relevant data points to proactive techniques that can be initiated to avoid the problems identified by the numbers. A comprehensive, analytical tool for collecting and interpreting those predictive data points is called safety management systems (SMS). The initial stages of UAS implementation will greatly benefit from this rigorous discipline. Perhaps more importantly, an exemplary early UAS safety record will help sell this innovation to the general public.

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