Oct. 27, 2016

NBAA recently joined with other aviation stakeholders to participate in the first meeting of the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST), a group of industry volunteers invited by the FAA to help enhance the safety of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations within the National Airspace System.

Announced earlier this month by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, the UAST is modeled after the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) and General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC). Like those joint industry/regulatory groups, the UAST will utilize a data-driven, consensus-based approach to analyze safety data within the UAS industry and develop products and recommendations aimed at mitigating the causes of UAS accidents.

Sarah Wolf, NBAA’s senior manager of security and facilitation and the association’s representative on the UAST, lauded the FAA’s proactive approach toward addressing safety concerns throughout the burgeoning UAS industry.

“The CAST and GAJSC were each formed in response to incidents and trends within their respective industries, and they have been extremely successful in addressing and mitigating many concerns,” she said. “By comparison, the UAS industry is relatively new, but it’s also growing very rapidly, and only recently has a regulatory framework been established to guide commercial UAS operations.”

While the UAST did not identify specific focus areas during its inaugural meeting on Oct. 18 and 19, Wolf said the team will draw upon operators’ experiences with conducting UAS flights to determine potential areas in need of improvement.

“One of our first steps will be gathering that data from operators and service providers, as well as from pilot reports from manned aircraft regarding encounters with UAS at unauthorized altitudes and areas,” Wolf explained. “Because this industry is still in its infancy, there isn’t a lot of data yet available to draw from in forming specific strategies. But that also means we’ll be able to quickly respond to trends as they emerge.”

UAS offer great promise for a variety of applications by entrepreneurs and companies that rely on aviation as part of doing business. Participation in the UAST is the latest example of NBAA’s efforts to help ensure the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace, beginning with its involvement since 2006 on UAS working groups, including through RTCA.

NBAA members that wish to contribute their operational data to the UAST are invited to contact Wolf at swolf@nbaa.org.

View NBAA’s UAS resources.