UAS / Drone Update: Steep Learning Curve for UAS Market
The recent rise of the global commercial UAS/drone industry is remarkable. The case for using drones across a broad spectrum of commerce is increasingly compelling. With the reassurance of greater regulatory certainty this buoyant industry is advancing at a staggering pace.
As a leading provider of insurance for the sector, Global Aerospace has a unique insight into the reality of today’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) market. Our customers’ use of drones is rapidly increasing. Global Aerospace has been insuring small UAS (<55lbs/25kgs) for well over three years. That is a brief moment in terms of traditional aviation but a lifetime of experience in the world of small drones.
Regulators around the world are struggling to keep up. While there are no international standards currently in place, there are certain elements that are present in most national rules:
- Differentiating recreational and commercial operations
- Establishing minimum standards for operators
- Using weight to differentiate risk potential
- Imposing minimal aircraft certification or none at all
- Restricting operations to visual line of sight and daylight hours only
- Restricting operations based on population density and airspace
Comprehensive insurance is generally available for all operators, all equipment and all uses so long as an acceptable safety standard can be demonstrated.
Global’s UAS clients now number in the thousands. With this success we have also seen claims, and we are constantly learning from our clients’ experiences. The industry is truly in its infancy and the learning curve will be steep. Even the best manufacturers will be unable to tell you the mean time between failure (MTBF) of their systems.
Companies all over the world are assessing how their organizations could perhaps benefit from the use of drones. But they are also considering whether it is better to develop their own program or call in an established operator to perform the flights for their company.
With the industry developing and changing so quickly, many questions could be considered:
- What is the complexity of the flight profile and data you are looking for?
- Does your corporate infrastructure and size support something as specialized as drones?
- Would the use of drones replace others on your workforce who could train to be operators?
- Rather than trial and error investment, would an expert be able to accelerate the project?
- Would a contractor really understand your specific needs and be able to deliver in a way that sufficiently mitigates risk?
Maybe the right path forward is to find a blend between internal and external. Whether you are involved in operating drones or providing insurance for them, the pace of change in this sector means that there are new things to learn almost every day. One thing for certain is that the landscape will continue to rapidly evolve.