With so many civilian and commercial applications for pilotless aerial drones — from police work to firefighting to photography — about to be unleashed, it’s probably not a moment too soon that the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) established some base guidelines for their operation.
While most drones are seen over war zones, it’s inevitable that the skies over many cities will be filled by drones. In the US in February, President Obama signed a law that mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration fully integrate unmanned aircraft into the public airspace by 2015. Along with the US military, police, firefighters, and other local agencies can already fly small unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, and by next May, drones weighing less than 55 pounds will have clearance to fly.
To this end, the AUVSI has released the drone industry’s first code of conduct, intended to offer a what the association calls a “common sense” approach to regulating unmanned aerial vehicles. The code is built on three themes of safety, professionalism, and respect:
- “We will not operate [unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS] in a manner that presents undue risk to persons or property on the surface or in the air.”
- ” We will ensure UAS will be piloted by individuals who are properly trained and competent to operate the vehicle or its systems.”
- “We will ensure UAS flights will be conducted only after a thorough assessment of risks associated with the activity.” This risk assessment will include weather conditions; identification of normally anticipated failure mode, crew fitness for flight operations; overlying airspace; aviation regulations; communication, command, control, and payload frequency spectrum requirements; and reliability.
- “We will comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, covenants, and restrictions as
- they relate to UAS operations.”
- “We will operate our systems as responsible members of the aviation community.”
- “We will be responsive to the needs of the public.”
- “We will cooperate fully with federal, state, and local authorities in response to emergency deployments, mishap investigations, and media relations.”
- “We will establish contingency plans for all anticipated off‐nominal events and share them openly with all appropriate authorities.”
- “We will respect the rights of other users of the airspace.”
- “We will respect the privacy of individuals.”
- “We will respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations.”
- “We will support improving public awareness and education on the operation of UAS.”