Will UAV/UAS Intergration be a Boom for A&P Mechanics?
Next Big Thing – UAV Integration
Earlier this month, Congress and President Barack Obama give authority to the Federal Aviation Administration to devise a plan to allow UAVs to intergrate into US airways. This opens
the door to thousands of potential UAVs flying overhead by the year 2015. The new rule was part of the agency’s $64.4 billion funding bill, which includes money for the NextGen air traffic control system. The new rule allows fire and police departments as well as other “first responders” to operate a UAV within 90 days from the ruling so long as they fly under 400 AGL and do not weigh over 4.4 lbs. Next year, weight limit gets raised to 55 pounds.
If you can get over the fears of Skynet and general paranoia of government spying, this will be a good thing for A&P mechanics. There are a lot of benefits to UAVs over traditional aircraft, from crime fighting to searching for missing children or even flying predetermined pipeline or high tension wire inspections. These tasks can now be conducted much more cost effectively. This will be a boon for UAV manufactures as this new ruling opens up a huge new market. Image all of the police forces that over the past 10 years have had to cut their aviation department. Now police can once again patrol the skies but at a much cheaper cost to the tax payer. UAV manufactures have been busy in their labs producing every size and type of UAV, and the best part is they have one to fit every budget.
Opportunities for A&P Mechanics?
The Federal Aviation Administration still has a lot to figure out. Questions of safety and privacy. What happens when the UAV loses contract with the ground control and wanders into the flight path or a commercial airline? Manufactures will have to include some safety features that the current UAVs have yet to incorporate. Also, will an A&P be required to maintain the UAV? Currently, most UAV mechanic positions do require an A&P license. I do not believe that this is law of the land, but only habit. Besides, what better qualified person can you find to work on a UAV than an actual aircraft mechanic. UAV avionic technicians do not always need an A&P license. Avionic technicians on traditional aircraft do not always have the A&P either.
A&P mechanics with strong avionics backgrounds or even better, UAV experience will soon be in demand. Schools have recently sprung up to support this growing demand in UAV support. Schools like Northland UAS Maintenance Training Center have designed programs specifically with UAV/UAS in mind.
Full sized aircraft UAV
What are you thoughts and concerns about the new integration of UAV into our airspace? We all knew it was on the horizon, but honestly I am a little surprised by this latest development. How do you see it effecting the aviation maintenance industry?
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