NTSB Cites Wide Range of Safety Issues in First Investigation of Unmanned Aircraft Accident

The National Transportation Safety Board today issued a total of 22 safety recommendations to address what NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said were "a wide range of safety issues involving the civilian use of unmanned aircraft.

• Require that established procedures for handling piloted aircraft emergencies be applied to unmanned aircraft systems.

• Require that all unmanned aircraft operators report to the FAA all incidents and malfunctions that affect safety; require that operators are analyzing these data in an effort to improve safety; and evaluate these data to determine whether programs and procedures remain effective in mitigating safety risks.

Among the 17 safety recommendations sent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the operator of the unmanned aircraft involved in the accident, are:

• Require that pilots be trained concerning the expected performance and flight path of an unmanned aircraft anytime communication with the aircraft is lost.

• Conduct face-to-face meetings between pilots of unmanned aircraft and working-level air traffic controllers to clearly define responsibilities and actions require for standard and nonstandard UA operations.

• Identify and correct the causes of the lockups in the pilot's control console.

• Revise the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's pilot training program to ensure pilot proficiency in executing emergency procedures.

• Require that a backup pilot or another person who can provide an equivalent level of safety as a backup pilot be readily available during the operation of a UA system.

• Develop a safety plan, which ensure that hazards to the National Airspace System and persons on the ground introduced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection UA system operation are identified and that necessary actions are taken to mitigate the corresponding safety risks to the public over the life of the program.

After adopting the safety recommendations, the Board voted to convene a public forum on the safety of UA operations and the methodologies to use when investigating UA accident and incidents. The dates and agenda for the two- to three-day forum will be announced once details are finalized.

The complete UA accident report can be accessed at www.ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20060509X00531&key= 1

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