Updated: Jun 17
As readers of this article, most of us would have never imagined this blog title would become a reality in our lifetime. Although we might not like it, these Next Generation aeronautical devices have arrived at our doorstep, and we should begin preparing ourselves to adapt to their daily schedules.
While in flight, their alien-like appearance takes on distinctive shapes and sizes, which make humans and animals alike gaze skywards in astonishment at this infiltration of a new order in our fast-paced world, drones are supplying a service that has always been needed. In the skies above, our worldly airspace is suddenly undergoing a radical change in procedures and design, mostly between 400 feet AGL and below where drone activities are most prevalent.
The aviation fraternity is becoming all too familiar with terms like a drone, RPAS and UAV. As air traffic movements become increasingly complex, safety is a concern. Until the introduction of Drones into our skies, procedures for aircraft movements in controlled and uncontrolled airspace were well documented and followed by all relevant stakeholders. Communication on a regular basis between all parties involved has ensured that everyone affected knows what is going on within each sector.
In some respects, drones can be compared to rotary winged aircraft, better known as helicopters, specifically with regard to their manoeuvrability, but their varying sizes and recovery capabilities are generally faster than even the most sophisticated helicopters currently on the market. This means the Drone Pilot should, where possible, give advance notice on frequency about their intentions to other Air Traffic within the region where they are flying.
While this is easier said than done, it puts the Drone Pilot under additional strain as they manage the drone's flight path on a control console while simultaneously using their handheld VHF radio to transmit intentions.
Drone Pilots must be able to communicate their intentions clearly and concisely, which means that, just like any other pilot on frequency, they need to follow standard radiotelephony procedures as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
While Drones are usually restricted to flying between 400 feet above ground level and below(depending on the country of operation), this doesn't necessarily mean the only possible traffic in this area is a radio-controlled aircraft or kite, for example. Activities such as Crop spraying, Helicopter tracking operations, and Search and Rescue operations, to name just a few, could "infiltrate" airspace that is not set aside exclusively for Drone Operations. Regulatory procedures are being developed for all States to implement what is required in order to maintain safe drone operations.
As modern technology continues to advance at an astonishing rate, and Drones continue to become part of our everyday lives, we have to remember that Radio Telephony (RT) procedures existed first, having already become an essential part of aviation operations around 1915. In the same way as Morse code, RT has always served as a reliable mode of communication, supporting safety and discipline on frequency, when used in accordance with the procedures it was developed for.
Drone pilots should incorporate RT into their flight operations, thereby ensuring that Communication on Frequency becomes an integral part of their start-up, pre-flight, and post-flight routines in order to support safety in the skies.
The dynamically ever-changing global situation has prompted RocaLicence to provide testing services both in-person and virtual options for Drone pilots and for all Aviation professionals to earn their licenses. Once you are ready, feel free to contact us at Rocalicence@gmail.com, and we'll take care of everything else.
All the best!