Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will be sharing U.S. airspace with manned aircraft in the next couple of years, and it’s likely that the advent of these flying machines will mean more work for aircraft technicians.
UAS flying in the same airspace won’t require additional equipment installations in manned aircraft, according to a December 26 letter from (then-acting) FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, responding to a query from industry associations concerned that aircraft owners would need new equipment to integrate with UAS. Huerta explained, “We are working diligently to integrate UAS operations into the [national airspace system].”
To that end, UAS need to be maintained to the same standards as manned aircraft, according to Dale Forton, president of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association. Without a pilot on board to perceive any problems that occur, UAS will lack an important source of information about the safety of the aircraft, he told AIN. “So in no way should a [UAS] be maintained to less of a standard than an aircraft operated by and carrying people. This should open more jobs in aviation maintenance for A&P [mechanics].”
PAMA and Aviation Workforce Development are hosting the first Aviation Workforce Thinktank on May 7 in Minneapolis to address this and other issues related to projected shortages of aviation personnel.