Altitude Angel, the world’s foremost UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) provider, is launching the world’s first ‘just culture’ incident reporting system for drone pilots and operators.
With no industry-wide function currently available for drone pilots and operators to report unplanned events they or their drones are involved in, an opportunity is being missed to share learnings about such instances and prevent them being avoidably repeated. The system emulates the approach already successfully established in manned aviation, where Mandatory Occurrence Reports (MOR) and Voluntary Occurrence Reports (VOR) are submitted following incidents.
Philip Binks, head of air traffic management at Altitude Angel, said: “The wider drone industry is behind manned aviation when it comes to reporting unplanned events and unusual episodes, but it doesn’t have to be so. Safety will be key to ensuring the industry’s expansion, so we should take the lessons learned in manned aviation and adopt ‘just culture’ reporting across UTM.”
Currently, drone operators are directed towards the CAA’s system to report occurrences, but having to answer the same set of questions posed of manned aircraft pilots can deter drone operators, Binks says: “The CAA’s reporting system has been designed for occurrences involving manned aircraft, which can require a great deal of technical and operational data and the expertise of an experienced aviator. A drone operator may feel that, when compared to two passenger aircraft nearly colliding, their ‘little’ incident, accident, or episode is not worth reporting in the same way and simply not bother. But there are lessons to be learned in every instance, which is why our system has drone users at its heart.”
The Altitude Angel reporting system consists of an anonymous web portal that will ask drone operators to answer a small number of questions if they experience something unexpected. Altitude Angel will collate the findings before making them available to the wider industry in order for each stakeholder to apply the appropriate learnings and improve safety.
Binks added: “Reporting an unexpected event is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card for irresponsible or criminal behaviour, but it will allow considerate pilots and operators to learn from others and take measures to prevent, or at the very least vastly reduce the chances of, the same type of event happening again. This responsible attitude to reporting can only reduce incidents and improve safety.”
The system, which will go live on Tuesday 4th, has the backing of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the statutory corporation overseeing and regulating all aspects of civil aviation in the United Kingdom. “The CAA absolutely supports this work by Altitude Angel, and anything which increases the safety of drone operations in the UK,” said Tim Johnson, policy director at the CAA. “It is vital the drone community benefits from the ability to share and learn from safety data as the rest of the aviation industry does.”