How to Prepare a Drone for Commercial Use

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A Predator drone operated by U.S. Office of Air and Marine (OAM), taxis towards the tarmac for a surveillance flight near the Mexican border on March 7, 2013 from Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, AZ. (John Moore/Getty)

Big news for the world of drones came late last month when the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was authorizing sites in 10 states to carry out drone aircraft testing.

That means 2014 will be the year when drone safety standards, pilot training, certification, and other policies are shaped ahead of the 2015 target Congress has has set for integrating drones into the nation’s airspace.

One of the sites where testing will take place is at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Jon Greene is Interim Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which is leading testing for Virginia Tech and Rutgers. He explains what considerations his team must make as they prepare drones for commercial use. 

Jon Greene

Mechanical engineering student Kenneth Kroeger (left) of Hunt Valley, Md., and Anthony Distefano, a technician with American Aerospace Advisors Inc., prepare a 250-pound, autonomous helicopter for a research mission.

Jon Greene

 

Kevin Kochersberger (right), a pilot and an associate professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, works with David Reed, an extension agronomist, to find ways to help farmers monitor the condition of their crops. 
Kevin Kochersberger (right), a pilot and an associate professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, works with David Reed, an extension agronomist, to find ways to help farmers monitor the condition of their crops. 

 

Jon Greene

 

David Schmale, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, uses aerial vehicles in his studies of microbial life in the atmosphere.
David Schmale, an associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, uses aerial vehicles in his studies of microbial life in the atmosphere.

 

Jon Greene

 

Students from area schools take part in a rocketry demonstration at Kentland Experimental Aerial Systems Laboratory, which serves as the base for the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems at Virginia Tech.
Students from area schools take part in a rocketry demonstration at Kentland Experimental Aerial Systems Laboratory, which serves as the base for the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems at Virginia Tech.

 

Jon Greene

 

Craig Woolsey, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, works with students to advance new uses of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Craig Woolsey, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, works with students to advance new uses of unmanned aerial vehicles.

 

Jon Greene

 

Jon Greene is the interim director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and associate director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
Jon Greene is the interim director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and associate director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.

 

Guests:

Jon Greene

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

Jack Kintner from Blaine, WA (KUOW)

I'd love Jon Greene to document his flip assertion that "most aircraft accidents are due to pilot error." I wonder how a drone would have handled the bird strike that put the airliner in the Hudson in New York. As an active pilot and former airline captain, I find the development of drones to be a very dicey proposition. People on the ground playing a video game, essentially, that can kill innocent passengers? You need to balance Greene's naive enthusiasm with someone who can point out the very real dangers of unmanned drones sharing airspace with aircraft carrying people and who can also point out that pilot error is not the primary cause of aircraft accidents, at least among professional pilots. Having Greene talk about how safe this all is sounds like a tobacco company talking about smoking in the 50's.

Jan. 08 2014 06:38 PM

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