Public Safety Drones: Getting Started


Step 1. Choose a path for FAA approval

There are two ways for your agency to obtain FAA approval for flight operations. Your pilots may operate under the Part 107 rule[1] (obtain an airman certificate with a small unmanned aircraft system rating) or, your agency may apply for a certificate of authorization (COA)[2]. Some agencies do both as each of these certifications authorize specific activities. Obtaining the Part 107 FAA Logocertification requires you to pass a knowledge exam and will require study and preparation. The COA process involves the agency to obtain FAA approval through an online portal. This process is a bit more complex and requires the preparation and submission of a number of documents. The COA process may take few weeks or could take up to 60 days.

Fortunately, the FAA no longer requires your sUAS pilots to obtain a manned aircraft pilot’s license as they once did. However, agencies applying for a COA need to show the FAA that their pilots and observers have obtained sufficient training. I can aid your agency in navigating through this process. My training will support the FAA’s training requirement.

Step 2. Identify and purchase the equipment for your program

In order to make the training realistic it will include setup and use of the actual equipment you will be using. To accomplish this, it would be best for you to purchase the equipment early on in the program.  If your agency does not yet own your own equipment, I do have training units available. Titletown Drones is a Wisconsin based dealer and I offer public safety packages. As part of my consulting services, I will give you advice on which equipment to buy.

Step 3. Identify your Pilots and Schedule Training

In order to operationalize your program, I recommend that your pilots start by obtaining the Part 107 certification from the FAA. Doing so will provide them a strong working knowledge of airspace rules and unmanned aviation principles. As part of the ground school, I will explain how to obtain this certification and help your pilots prepare for the written exam.

As I am sure you are aware, classroom training does not fully prepare your pilots for flight operations. They will need hands-on experience and practical skills to succeed. This training program will cover the fundamentals of unmanned flight customized to your aircraft. The program will include a blend of classroom and field training.


DAY 1: Ground School; Part 107 Test Preparation

The Fundamentals of Unmanned Flight

  • Overview of current technology
  • Components of a multi-rotor
  • Capabilities of unmanned aircraft and how they are being used for public safety
  • Thermal imaging explained

Federal Aviation Regulations, Part 107 Test Prep.

In order to obtain a Part 107 certification (an Airman Certificate with rating for sUAS) the applicant must pass a knowledge exam. This session will include information on:

  • Aviation regulations
  • Airspace classifications and operating requirements
  • Aviation weather services
  • Aeronautical decision making
  • Loading and performance
  • Radio communications
  • Emergency Procedures

Flight Simulator Training

The first few hours of sUAS operation are the highest risk due to inexperience. This session will build your pilot’s skills and confidence on a flight simulator and help get them through this high-risk period. The following skills will be developed:

  • Take-off, landing and basic flight maneuvers
  • Perception and Orientation: Transitioning between first person view (FPV) and line of sight
  • Obstacle avoidance techniques and evasive maneuvers

Constitutional and Legal Considerations

  • Aerial surveillance and case law and emergency exceptions
  • A review of the local, state and federal laws regulating drones which impact a law enforcement agency’s use of sUAS
  • Mitigating public opposition
  • Policy development and best practices

 Why Drones Crash; Malfunctions and Inflight Emergencies

  • Review of the most common errors that lead to fly-away, crashes, injury and property damage
  • Understanding pilot perception; Making the transition between first person view (FPV) and line of sight (LOS)
  • Recovering from lost video, control links, GPS outages and compass errors

 

FLIGHT TRAINING: DAY 2

Pre-flight Preparation, Mission Planning

  • Conducting pre-flight inspections (sample checklists provided)
  • Checking airspace
  • Hazard detection, mitigating risk
  • Maintaining a flight log
  • Emergency procedures
  • Weather minimums
  • Record keeping
  • How to apply for waivers

Piloting an Unmanned Aircraft

The student will develop their skills and pilot the sUAS in an outdoor environment under the direct supervision of the flight instructor. The student will master a series of flight maneuvers and learn how to apply the classroom training through scenarios. This training will involve the Pilot in Command (PIC) and an Observer. If the client uses a dual remote system, the PIC can work in tandem with an observer. A third person can take on the role of the observer.

  • Pre-flight inspection and safety briefing
  • Take-off and landing
  • Obstacle avoidance
  • Recovering from malfunctions
  • Power management
  • Navigation
  • Advanced flight modes (waypoints, point of interest, course lock, home lock)
  • Communication between PIC, Observer, Incident Command and Ground Crews