GENEVA – Developments within the drone or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) industry, is moving at a rapid pace in multiple directions as service providers scramble to provide low altitude, high altitude, recreational and commercial drone services. And, according to the Head of Cargo Transformation at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Celine Hourcade, Africa continues to lead the way in using drones to deliver goods.
In the civil world, drones can be used for media and entertainment, fire-fighting, precision agriculture, humanitarian, and multiple other applications that require cheap and extensive aerial surveillance such as border patrol, weather monitoring, nuclear security, hurricane tracking and law enforcement, to mention a few. Hourcade noted that East Africa is still leading the globe in drone usage as the region uses drones to make humanitarian deliveries, disaster relief, transport of temperature sensitive medicine and food, and many more, particularly to isolated and inaccessible areas.
Hourcade noted during a recent IATA presentation in Geneva that drones continue to evolve to offer new forms of airfreight, with the latest medium-sized drones able to reliably transport from 500kg to two tonnes of goods.
She added that IATA’s objective is to address the opportunities for the airfreight industry to integrate and embrace this new branch of air cargo through the development of necessary standards and tools, education initiatives and the collaboration with industry partners.
While much of the focus of drones to date has been on military applications and consumer toys potentially able to endanger aircraft, the future of drones to support the airline industry is promising, as they offer opportunities to gain efficiencies, reduce costs and increase speed.
Hourcade emphasised that the air transport industry needs to react quickly to address challenges and capture the opportunities offered by this new branch of civil aviation.
She noted that at IATA, a high priority has been placed on the development of standards and recommended practices that will enable the safe and efficient operations of drones into the established aviation infrastructure.
As a result of growth in both commercial and recreational markets, drone manufacturers and operators are seeking greater access to airspace, including that in which commercial aircraft are operating.
IATA is collaborating closely with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), civil aviation authorities and key industry partners to develop a toolkit that provides operational guidance and regulations in order to ensure the safe and efficient integration of drones, specifically into shared airspace.
2018-12-19 11:20:52 7 months ago