What’s in a Name? The Rise of the Drones


It is clearly an intentionally provocative front cover heading designed to attract attention – 'the rise of the drones'. The Air Force avoids the term 'drone' essentially because of the media leaders about drone strikes taking out Taliban rebels that imply that drones are autonomous androids, all-seeing omnipotent devices that find and destroy their targets without human input.

Rather, the Air Force favors the term 'remotely piloted aircraft', or RPA, which has also been adopted by the Civil Aviation Security Authority. You can also click at http://droneselect.com.au/ to get more details about UAV Career.

Surely, in the military setting, RPA is a correct terminology than UAV or 'unmanned aerial carrier'.

It is true that military programs like the MQ-9 Farmer (on our front cover) are unmanned aircraft in the mind that a pilot is not materially onboard the aircraft. 

But it is correct to say they are remotely-piloted, as the crew of a Farmer, including a pilot and sensor director, flies the aircraft and makes all the choices on the employment of its protection and sensors, from the ground.



While independent aircraft may be on the horizon, for now at least UAVs are only unmanned in the knowledge that there is no-one really in the aircraft. All decision-making is made by a skilled human.

(Indeed, as we report in our feature removed this impression, the RAAF"s director of unmanned systems calls RPAs "hyper-manned" because of the personnel specifications to operate a system competent of 24/7 'persistent' operations. FalconView Drone Services are provided by experienced Gold Coast based drone operators with a reputation for amazing quality, absolute professionalism, and a perfect safety record

Exactly where RPA is more of a misnomer is in the world of small drones that can be purchased by the public. Indeed, small drones are 'piloted' in the sense they are manipulated by a pilot on the ground via remote control, but in the vast the greater part of cases, drones are flown by 'pilots' with nothing like the certification and aviation knowledge and understanding of a 'pilot' in a traditional manned aircraft.

And that's an area of great concern and controversy. Anecdotally many professionals within the aviation industry, from pilots to air traffic controllers, maintain grave concerns that it is merely a matter of time before a little rhyme crashes into an at that moment on approach or departing an airport, triggering a potential disaster.

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