ISO Releases Drone Standards, Addresses Trespassing and Safety

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【Summary】As quadcopters become an integral part of business operations worldwide, guidelines are needed to ensure safety and best practices.

Michael Cheng    Nov 30, 2018 6:00 AM PT
ISO Releases Drone Standards, Addresses Trespassing and Safety

In the past five years, drones have expanded to cater to numerous activities, from aerial photography and third-party deliveries to stunning light shows and industrial inspections.

As quadcopters become an integral part of business operations worldwide, guidelines are needed to ensure safety and best practices. With this in mind, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has released the International Standards for Drone Operations (draft), which aims to provide a set of guidelines for drone operators across the globe.

Overview of Drone Standards

The guidelines set forth by the ISO focuses on safety, flight requirements and restricted areas. Specifically, the organization recommends the use of "no-fly zones" to limit drone activities over airports, military bases and other locations hosting aircrafts. The ISO suggests implementing geo-fencing technology to streamline this aspect of operation.  

Additionally, the organization is requiring individuals to keep software updated, which could improve security. Flight logging, training and maintenance were also addressed in the draft.

"Everybody across the industry believes drones can be safe and of great benefit to mankind. Operators and service providers alike are keen to establish a baseline. An industry that is moving so fast needs to be standards-led, not regulation-led. It is not efficient," said Robert Garbett, Convener of the ISO Working Group.

Compliance with the standards is on voluntary basis. Adhering to the drone standards could be beneficial for operators, service providers and manufacturers, as it would create a foundation for the industry to build on.

With a consistent set of standards readily available, violations related to trespassing and safety can be greatly minimized. Such efforts could not have come at a better time. According to data from the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), the number of reports involving drones and near-misses with commercial aircrafts have more than tripled in the past 24 months.

A total of 92 reports were recorded in 2017. By comparison, only 29 incidents were reported in 2015. UKAB confirmed pilots are concerned about encountering near-misses with drones during takeoff and landing.

Adoption and Upcoming Specifications

Now that the draft has been released to the public, the ISO will leave the guidelines open for consultation until January 21, 2019. The organization welcomes corporate groups, professionals and institutions to provide feedback about the draft. Global adoption of the operating codes is expected to start next year.

Notably, the draft is only one of four sets of standards covering drone usage and safety. There are three more sets of guidelines that address the following: manufacturing quality, management platforms and technical specifications.

The utilization of unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems will also be covered in the upcoming releases. This suggests the ISO could be preparing for autonomous flying cars or air-taxi fleets. These types of technologies require UTM systems to oversee various flights simultaneously taking place over a city.

"I'd encourage all those with an interest in drones to engage with the consultation process, so no stone is left unturned in our quest for the creation and adoption of best-practice drone standards," cited Garbett.

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