Imagine executing a complex night approach to a major airport in highly congested airspace — lots of step-downs and a steep final segment — when suddenly an intensively bright light blasts the cockpit.
Phoenix Air’s Aeromedical Biological Containment System (ABCS) is shown erected beside one of the operator’s Gulfstream III air ambulances. Note the “exoskeleton” fabricated from aluminum stock and the disposable isolation tent for patients suffering from dangerous communicable diseases that it supports. The system breaks down for storage and is designed to be assembled in the Gulfstream’s cabin and secured in the seat tracks.
When television viewers saw news coverage of American medical professionals infected with Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever arriving in the U.S. for treatment, it’s doubtful many of them knew that the aircraft bringing them back from Africa were specially modified, commercially operated Gulfstream business jets.
What finally galvanized the FAA and its Cabinet-level overseer, the Department of Transportation (DOT), into implementing meaningful regulation of civil drone operations were predictions by the UAS industry that between 700,000 and 1 million small drones would be purchased as 2015 holiday gifts in the U.S.
“I wasn’t going to fly a toy and lose my ticket. I’ve been flying 35 years and have never gotten a violation and always followed the regs. Why would I jeopardize my livelihood?”
Why, indeed? So reasoned Bob Howie, Gulfstream V captain at a Houston charter/management company, when he purchased a couple of DJI Phantom Pro 3 drones and contemplated starting a commercial operation. What attracted him to the small UASs that seem to have burgeoned overnight was a lifelong love affair with model aircraft.
Registration may identify some small drone operators, but it won’t keep those intent on mischief, terrorism or just plain stupidity from flying their UASs irresponsibly, illegally, or even malevolently.
Modesto, California, resident Tom Davis’s background includes 25 years as a scientific programmer during which he developed software apps and performed software engineering for high-speed computer systems. Having been raised on a farm in California’s Central Valley, he also was familiar with mechanized agriculture. And since his father had been an air traffic controller and flight instructor, this spawned an interest in aviation.
In the not-too-distant future, it will be possible to fly anywhere over the planet in an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast environment affording benefits equally to flight crews, operators and air traffic controllers.
As Wynand Meyer, director of UAS International Trip Support’s Africa division in Johannesburg puts it, “Africa is the next big development,” as it’s the last continent still fresh for modernization of its infrastructure — mainstream as well as aviation.