NTSB: Many Safety Issues with Unmanned Aircraft Ops

 - October 18, 2007, 12:39 PM

As a result of its first investigation of an accident involving an unmanned aircraft, the NTSB issued 22 safety recommendations to address “a wide range of safety issues involving the civilian use of unmanned aircraft.” The Safety Board found that the April 25, 2006 accident of a Predator B near Nogales, Ariz., was the result of the ground-based pilot’s failure to “use checklist procedures when switching operational control from a console that had become inoperable due to a ‘lockup’ condition, which resulted in the fuel valve inadvertently being shut off and the subsequent total loss of engine power.” It also cited the lack of a flight instructor in the ground control station. According to the NTSB, the fact that the pilot was not proficient in the performance of emergency procedures led to the accident. “The pilot is still the pilot, whether he is at a remote console or on the flight deck,” noted NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker. The Safety Board also plans to convene a public forum on the safety of unmanned aircraft operations.