Drone Standards Tough To Reach For Young Pilots

2015-11-11

Drone Standards Tough To Reach For Young Pilots
Megan Halek could be the best unmanned aircraft pilot coming out of the University of North Dakota’s highly regarded aviation program this year: Shes aced a training program and has enough air experience to fly private jets worldwide.

That wont be enough to land her dream job, flying the Predator drone for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Though she would enthusiastically take on a job that currently falls to federal pilots whod mostly rather be up in the air, shes more than 1,300 hours short of the federal agencys required actual flight time and doesnt have the proper flying certificate.

“The CBP has their standards, and rightly so. Theyre looking for qualified people,” said UND aviation professor John Bridewell, who is Haleks faculty adviser. But at some point you have to question if theres a tradeoff between someone who simply has hours and this particular certificate versus someone who has capabilities and wants to be there.

Officials said they are looking at changing their hiring practices — especially since the majority of its pilot workforce is made up of baby-boomer federal agents that must retire at 57 but could not discuss specifics. Other agencies that fly drones, like some branches of the military, have less strict guidelines. Loosening the rules also could give students a stable, well-paying job out of college, rather than flying with regional airlines.

Updating hiring practices is a debate worth having, given the many job openings on the horizon among its 1,200-strong staff, according to Max Raterman, who directs the CBPs Air and Marine Operations in Grand Forks.

I would say the agency is aware of the concerns of not being able to hire enough pilots, he said. Its what to do about it.

Steve Bodin, a civilian pilot who had about 3,500 flying hours when he was hired with CBP in 2009, said hed rather be flying a plane than operating a drone.

Youre going out and getting somewhere, the 32-year-old said. The unmanned is cutting-edge stuff and were at the front line of it so this is interesting. But its not flying.

The Predator drone a $13 million piece of equipment is the most difficult plane, manned or unmanned, that Bodin said he has to land. Its harder to feel connected to a drone, he said.

When you are flying a real airplane you can feel that kinetic sense, you have a peripheral view. You can sense the ground coming up, stuff like that, he said. With the unmanned, theres no sound, theres no feeling, theres no rumbling or anything in there.

Its all what you perceive out of a video monitor. Its a 2D plane and its all pretty much reactive.

Halek decided from the first day of college that she wanted to major in unmanned aircraft.

I am a pilot. I love being in the sky, said the 22-year-old whos set to graduate next month. But this is something new and a platform I had my eye on since day one. I want to be in a program that is up and coming.

Raterman acknowledged that many college pilots have the technological savvy and the interest in flying unmanned aircraft.

I think that will be helpful, but is that enough? he asked. As an emerging technology and platform, I do think its going to sort itself out. I think were all going to look back one day and say we were there back in the day when we were deciding this (hiring) model.




FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar

2017-09-11
FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar
A host of new users is changing the world of commercial aviation thanks in large part to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) small unmanned aircraft rule, Part 107 (PDF), which has now been in place for a year.

US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm

2017-08-22
US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm
The U.S. Naval Research Lab has been working on its CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) drones since at least 2011. The tiny drones are designed to be carried aloft by other aircraft and dropped, whereupon they’ll use GPS and little fins to glide to within 15 feet of their destination.

The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews  Hector Ubiñas

2017-08-22
The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews Hector Ubiñas
In the third of a series of interviews with key figures involved in the success of Drone World Expo, we talked to for Hector Ubiñas, Aviation Services Manager, San Diego Gas and Electric. Hector joined SDG&E in September 2016 and has been overseeing the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) program since starting with the company. In this role, Hector is responsible for the daily operations of the UAS program and continuing to develop new work methods for its application in the utility industry.

Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills

2017-04-25
Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills
Aerial dogfighting began more than a century ago in the skies over Europe with propeller-driven fighter aircraft carried aloft on wings of fabric and wood. An event held recently in southern California could mark the beginning of a new chapter in this form of aerial combat.

13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop

2016-08-08
13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop
The White House launched a new effort Tuesday to help increase the use of drones and showcased how government agencies have become a proving ground for a wide array of new drone concepts and technologies.

New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations

2016-07-24
New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations
It may not seem like it, but drones are still in their infancy and only proving themselves through the rigorous testing done privately, commercially, and by state and federal government agencies. Despite the tangible benefits that drones can provide, the public has mixed sentiments about their use by law enforcement, firefighting, and search & rescue operations.

Drone World Expo  Exclusive Interviews  Mark Bathrick

2016-07-14
Drone World Expo Exclusive Interviews Mark Bathrick
We wanted to find out more about the team behind Drone World Expo – what makes them tick, what motivates them and what are the secrets behind the success of the event. We interviewed Advisory Board member Mark L. Bathrick who directs a nationwide aviation services business for the U.S Department of the Interior (DOI) overseeing the safe operation of over 1,200 contracted and government-owned manned and unmanned aircraft across a wide range of business applications.

Rwanda Readies Life-Saving Drone Delivery System

2016-07-03
Rwanda Readies Life-Saving Drone Delivery System
This summer, small autonomous airplanes will begin carrying life-saving blood to 20 hospitals and healthcare centers across Western Rwanda, Africa, in one of the first-of-its-kind drone-based delivery demonstrations.

Tree-Planting Drones

2016-06-28
Tree-Planting Drones
Beaverton, Oregon-based drone startup DroneSeed created a drone with a device that fires seeds into the ground using compressed air in an effort to reforest the Pacific Northwest, and eventually forests around the world.

FAA Finalizes Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

2016-06-21
FAA Finalizes Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Today, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration has finalized the firstoperational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”), opening pathways towards fully integrating UAS into the nations airspace. These new regulations work to harness new innovations safely, to spur job growth, advance critical scientific research and save lives.


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