Coming on the heels of HAI’s expansion to include UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) operators and owners, HAI President and CEO Matt Zuccaro told ROTOR Daily that he was able to use his participation in a recent meeting on UAS issues to explain the helicopter industry’s concerns and positions to the UAS community.
Zuccaro was one of the speakers at the keynote luncheon session on “UAS Integration: Other Viewpoints and Opinions” at the FAA UAS Symposium, held last month in Daytona Beach, Fla., by the FAA and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
The meeting, which he called an opportunity for stakeholders in the emerging UAS technology to exchange concerns, issues, and ideas, gave Zuccaro the opportunity to ensure that the UAS industry, regulators, and others are aware of HAI position that “we view this as an exciting new technology,” he says.
Zuccaro says that whenever he talks to outside groups, most people are surprised that the helicopter industry is not hostile to UAS, which share similar missions and airspace with helicopters.
“We had two choices,” Zuccaro told ROTOR Daily. “We could either object to their technology and try to keep it out of the airspace, which, quite frankly, I don’t think is a rational position, or we could actually look at UAS as a new, exciting business opportunity for helicopter operators. That’s what we’ve decided to do.”
He says this HAI position was new to “at least half” of the people at the conference, with many thinking, erroneously, that the helicopter industry is fighting UAS as being unsafe and competition.
At the same time, though, Zuccaro thinks that the UAS industry has not “come to grips” with the fact that UAS are aircraft, rather than toys or consumer products, meaning that UAS operators have duties and responsibilities to others sharing the same airspace.
Zuccaro expects that this and other outreach to the UAS community will result in better understanding between the UAS and helicopter industries. “We’re looking to work together with them, and we are absolutely going to do the best we can to ensure that they recognize the duties and responsibilities they have, and that they are in a consensus with us about the things that we’re advocating for,” he says — specifically, the safe integration of U.A.S. into the airspace, registration of UAS and education for those operating them.
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