Safety is one of the top priorities in aviation, including drone operations. Risk-based operational assessments (such as SORA in the drone industry) with corresponding mitigations in the Operations Manual, training, checklists, etc. contribute to the high level of safety that has been achieved in manned aviation. To start operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), you are also required to comply with regulations set by international, such as EASA and the FAA, and national authorities. However, being, and more specifically staying, compliant might be an underestimated part of drone operations.
In the (manned) aviation industry, it has been proven that efficient and effective data collection and processing are critical to enable safe operations. Data collection is one of the key elements that is part of a compliant organisation. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has defined a compliancy philosophy, which emphasises the need for collaboration within the aviation community, and organisations in it, to share data about safety issues. One of the goals of this philosophy is to identify safety issues that underlie deviations from standards. The next step is to correct these issues efficiently and effectively in the shortest time span.
Why do we want to achieve a ‘logging culture’ in drone operations?
To stay compliant, you are required by law to log your flights. The European authority EASA requires that all flight operations should be (electronically) logged for a period of two years by the UAS operator. The required data includes all flight characteristics, incident or accident reports and maintenance logs. But there are more arguments to consistently log your drone operations.
In manned aviation, almost every pilot keeps a logbook. A logbook is the indispensable diary of a pilot’s training, career, and flight journeys. It not only records where a pilot has flown, but also who he or she has flown with, the number of hours, how many landings were undertaken, the kinds of instrument approaches and what kind of airplane he or she was flying in. Due to the short flight times in drone operations, logging all your flights can be a struggle for operators. However, remember that you do not only log your flights because it is required by law, but also because it is your own ‘proof of experience’!
We know that ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’, so regularly maintaining your fleet of drones and all other equipment will increase safety across your organisation. Insights in the history of your drone can be very useful to look ahead for any component replacements. It will save you time and costs by being prepared for your drone’s maintenance activities. So, it is also essential from an operational and technical point of view to log your drone operations within your organisation.
Incident or Accident logging
Lastly, Civil Aviation Authorities require you to report any incidents or accidents related to your drone operations. Types of reports can be, but are not limited to, incidents such as unsafe or special situations in the air (e.g. a near collision with other aircraft). Therefore, the ‘Just Culture’ principle is essential in your organisation. In the manned aviation industry, it has also taken some years to accept this as normal working practice in day to day operations. The principle of ‘Just Culture’ supports learning from hazards (including incident or accidents) through structural sharing of safety information - instead of blaming the person(s) who caused it - to prevent future accidents. So, besides meeting legal requirements, logging and reporting also enhances your company’s safety culture.
How AirHub can help
At AirHub we have guided many organizations across various industries with setting up a safe, efficient and compliant drone operation. We can deliver a combination of consultancy and online tools to get your operation approved by the CAA, but also to stay compliant. AirHub's Ground Control Apps enable you to instantly log all flight times, schedule maintenance actions and report incidents in the field. But the mobile applications for iOS and Android are not limited to the required logging of personal flight hours, also management of teams, maintenance reporting and incident management are features that are used a lot. You can download the free AirHub application or log in to the online Dashboard to encourage a ‘logging culture’ in your organisation. By downloading the app you will not only have an easy to use and comprehensive drone logbook, but also a complete compliance system for your drone operations. Our enterprise customers will furthermore profit from advanced features such as live streaming, AI recognition and even remote operations.