Promotes Safe, Responsible Use as Integration into Airspace Proceeds
AUVSI, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, has published the “Unmanned Aircraft System Operations Industry Code of Conduct” ... a set of guidelines to provide AUVSI members – and those who design, test and operate UAS for public and civil use – with recommendations for their safe, non-intrusive operation.
The organization says that central to the “Code of Conduct” is the need for “safety, professionalism and respect” in all uses of UAS. This code is meant to provide UAS industry manufacturers and users a convenient checklist for operations and a means to demonstrate their obligation to supporting the growth of the industry in a safe and responsible manner. “The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the scientific community, and public service since the beginning of flight,” said Michael Toscano, President and CEO of AUVSI. “With a commitment to safety, professionalism and respect, we can ensure unmanned aircraft are integrated responsibly into civil airspace.”
The guidelines recommend when and by whom UAS should be flown, to minimize risk. They commit to complying with all federal, state and local laws and cooperating with authorities at all levels. The guidelines also commit to respecting other users of the airspace, the privacy of individuals, the concerns of the public and improving public awareness of UAS.
“By proactively adhering to these guidelines, we want to demonstrate how the rights of individuals and the safety of all users of civil airspace are our top priority, as we work to unlock the incredible potential this technology holds,” Toscano said.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act signed into law on February 14, 2012, included a provision requiring the FAA to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace. The law created a number of deadlines for the FAA to meet on its way to the safe integration of UAS by September 2015. Unmanned aircraft systems extend human potential, allowing individuals to execute dangerous and often difficult tasks safely and efficiently. Whether it is aiding search and rescue efforts, navigating through airspace too hazardous for manned vehicles, or furthering scientific research, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.
But the announcement of the code has done little to quite critics of the use of UAVs in the national airspace, who cite privacy as one of their primary concerns. ACLU lobbyist Chris Calabrese told the Seattle Times that while it's important that the association is paying attention to privacy, non-binding guidelines, no matter how well-intentioned, are no substitute for enforceable laws. Celebrese said Congress should step in to regulate the new technology.
UAVs are expected to be big business. Analysts say the market for the aircraft will double over the next 10 years to more than $11 billion in the U.S., with much of the growth coming from police departments.