AEA Highlights Need for UAS Maintenance, Inspections

 - November 28, 2016, 11:35 AM

The Aircraft Electronics Association is stressing the importance of maintenance and inspections of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), pointing to a recent study finding that mechanical failures have caused the majority of UAS accidents and incidents. Conducted by Australian researchers, the study, Exploring Civil Drone Accidents and Incidents to Help Prevent Potential Air Disasters, analyzed 152 accidents and incidents that occurred between 2006 and 2015.

It found that equipment problems accounted for 64 percent of the UAS accidents and incidents. “In contrast to commercial air transportation, [UAS] events have a significantly different distribution…It was shown that technology issues, not human factors, are the key contributor in [those] events,” the study noted.

AEA said the study underscores why avionics shops are positioned to serve the growing UAS market. “Drone operators want to avoid accidents even more than regulators [do], and they must reach this goal without detailed regulatory requirements,” said Brad Hayden, president and CEO of AEA member Robotic Skies. The U.S. FAA Part 107 currently does not require periodic UAS inspections and maintenance, and the agency points to the manufacturer as the primary source of maintenance guidance, Hayden noted.

How UASs are maintained is only part of the equation, he said, adding that who performs the maintenance is also important. Hayden noted guidance that encourages using certified maintenance providers, which includes many AEA members.