How We Should Describe The UAS Industry

The UAS industry is difficult to describe, but easy to understand. Although the regulatory work of the FAA can be difficult to comprehend, the potential of the industry is as easy to see as a rotocopter hovering 10 feet above the ground.
By Luke Geiver | October 21, 2014

The UAS industry is difficult to describe, but easy to understand. In many parts of the world, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hold a thriving presence in commercial and private sectors. The U.S., on the other hand, is playing catch up as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration continues its daunting efforts to validate the safest and most practical entrance for the commercial use of UAVs into the national airspace. Although the regulatory trailblazing process currently being undertaken by the FAA can be difficult to comprehend, the potential of the UAS industry is as easy to see as a quadcopter hovering 10 feet above ground in a clear blue sky.

Several industries have already expressed interest or invested directly in UAS. In the U.S., the implementation of UAVs into planting efforts, field monitoring and data gathering has the agriculture community enthusiastic about the possibilities linked to precision farming. The untapped potential for pipeline monitoring has the midstream energy sector eager to deploy UAVs. The film and real estate industries are already convinced of the imagery capture potential that UAVs can and will provide. Weather forecast centers and disaster relief organizations want unlimited access to UAVs for services from storm cell monitoring to victim relief. Even well-known Internet giants––search engine providers and online ordering services––with the capability to pursue any tech avenue in existence have made national news for their research and developments aimed at UAV implementation. But for all of the interest and investment currently happening, the story of the industry which begins with untapped potential and will involve into unfathomable commercialized use—is only just beginning. The story is, however, reassuring to major UAV manufacturers, appealing to engineering and design firms, slow for policy followers and operators, and, for so many like our team at the UAS Magazine, beyond exciting.

In our inaugural issue we’ve worked to capture both the excitement and the reality of the UAS world. Staff writer Patrick Miller details the efforts of Gene Robinson, a Texas-based UAS operator contracted to pilot a fixed-wing UAV in the search for a missing person. Miller’s discussion’s with Robinson revealed several facets and realities of the industry, including the intricacies of obtaining a certificate of authorization, the proven capabilities of professional UAV pilots and an obvious reason for the FAA to permit certain UAS platforms sooner than later.

Following a trip to the country’s first-ever UAS maintenance training program facilities, our team was able to compile a feature story that clearly highlights the sense of excitement in the industry. As the feature, "UAS Training Grounds," illustrates, careers in the UAS sector are now more possible than ever. Curtis Zoeller and Jon Beck, the trailblazing UAS curriculum development experts who gave us the private tour, are proof. Both left the UAS industry to spearhead the UAS program at a tiny community college in small-town Minnesota. Three years later, the duo is fast-becoming recognized by the greater educational community for their program-building accomplishments and by major UAS manufacturers for their certifiable standards that are now responsible for providing employees to the biggest names in the industry.

For an unrivaled look at the state of the unmanned aircraft systems industry, our team is pleased to offer a monthly column written specifically for UAS Magazine by Michael Toscano, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the undeniable voice for UAS.

Toscano’s on-point commentary on AUVSI’s challenges, opportunities and successes in the industry combine with nearly every piece from this issue to show that the reality of commercialized UAS use in the U.S. is linked to a challenging regulatory and policymaking period for the FAA and an excitement that is sensible not just as for as far as the eye can see, but, past the line of sight.

----------

Luke Geiver
Editor, UAS Magazine
lgeiver@bbiinternational.com