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Drone standards move forward

A UK Group believes a draft ISO standard for drone operations will pave the way for the widespread commercial use of drones in parcel delivery.

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Last week a UK consultancy called Drone Major Group issued a statement announcing that “Today, the first ever worldwide Standards for the drone industry are being released by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).” The standards, it said, “have been developed after several years of global collaboration between standards institutions from across the world and are expected to trigger rapid acceleration of growth within the drone industry as organisations throughout the world are galvanised to adopt drone technology against a new background of reassurance on safety and security”.


The ISO has not released its own statement, but WorldCargo News clarified with the US-based Aerospace Industries Association, which is managing the development of the standard, that what has been released is a draft of ISO/DIS 21384-3, Unmanned aircraft systems -- Part 3: Operational procedures. A copy of the standard can be purchased from the ISO website.


In the UK, the Drone Major Group expects that the release of the draft standard will help expedite a Drone Bill, which is now in the legislative process and expected to be introduced to parliament in early 2019. The Drone Major Group wants the UK to move forward on a regulatory regime for managing Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) operations. These are expected to facilitate drones for parcel delivery, and eventually even passenger drones.


The Drone Major Group is leading a work group in the UK to have input into its regulatory process, and is encouraging the drone industry, academics, businesses and the general public to have input into the ISO standards process, for which comments are open until 21 January 2019.


In the meantime pilot projects for drones in parcel delivery applications continue. One such project in Canada is using drones to connect Moose Factory Island in James Bay with the nearby mainland community of Moosnee. There is no bridge linking the two communities, and in the winter months suppliers have to be moved by helicopter or across the frozen river.


In September Drone Delivery Canada commenced its own BVLOS programme, monitored by Transport Canada and Nav Canada. Parcels including medical supplies, food and auto parts were flown between the two points to test an “infrastructure solution” that would enable drones to be accessed and loaded by people in the community. The drones were operated on an approved flightpath in controlled airspace, monitored by authorities on standard aviation channels, as described in the video below.

In China, ZPMC has reported that it has received a “business certificate” from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to operate drones for remotely inspecting 40 points on the upper area of STS container cranes. ZPMC believes drones can reduce the inspection time for the crane structure in these areas from 8 hours to less than two hours.

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