Tom Lund is Chief Operational Support at Prox Dynamics, the company behind the PD-100 Black Hornet PRS. He retired from the Royal Norwegian Air Force in 2015 after 21 years, during which he served both as an F-16 and UAS pilot and instructor. To complement his military background, Lund also has an IT education, and his mix of operational experience and technical insight makes him an ideal link between Prox Dynamics’ customers and the R&D department. His main responsibilities at Prox Dynamics is to develop and oversee the company’s training program, supervising training courses and providing operational support to customers. In addition to this, Lund is the company’s point of contact for everything regarding regulatory and operational matters.
The UAS safety philosophy adopted by several Civil and Military Aviation Authorities around the world assumes that “smaller is safer”. Small UAVs pose less risk due to their size and type of operation, and a risk-based and proportionate approach is used to minimize the regulatory burden. The goal is to ensure that UAS operations are performed with the same level of safety as manned aviation. Current state of the art systems comprise palm-sized UAVs (Nano UAVs) weighing less than 20 grams, which are more capable than many larger UAVs. They utilize advanced navigation, full authority autopilot, digital datalink, and multi-sensor payloads. The operational radius is more than 1 mile, and they are flown safely in strong winds. To allow full operational use of such systems, Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight and night operation must be permitted. In larger UAVs, this normally requires some means of avoiding midair collisions, like a sense and avoid system or a transponder allowing Air Traffic Control direction. Since this is presently not possible to implement in Nano UAVs due to their small size, other mechanisms have to be in place to ensure safe operations. To this end, we introduce the concept of Inherently Safe UAVs. A zero-risk approach is not possible, as all forms of activity pose some level of risk, however minute. Nevertheless, considering an extremely small air vehicle, such as a fly-sized low energy UAV, it becomes obvious that this would have to be considered safe. Accepting this, one also has to conclude that there must be a threshold where a UAV should be considered inherently safe. This presentation will discuss the concept of Inherently Safe UAVs.