A critical component of operational safety is the ability to manage risk through hazard identification and mitigation. Especially working with unmanned aerial systems, an operator must be able to determine what situational and environmental factors could be an issue and subsequently work to lessen the dangers associated. The standardized process for risk management has helped many industries significantly decrease the number of incidents that occur.
The first step to risk management is assessing risk. A knowledgeable person will be able to determine what issues might crop up, and assign an initial risk level appropriate for the assumed hazard. They can then take actions to reduce or remove the hazard entirely. The Nevada Operational Risk Assessment outlines some of these hazards, which include atmospheric, mechanical and personnel factors. Any flight is a potentially hazardous undertaking, as most drones are heavy enough to cause significant damage to personnel or property if they lose lift. Despite this, they are still light enough to be affected by wind, weather, and mechanical failure.
This requires an operator be well trained in how to prevent these problems from becoming dangerous. In manned aircraft, this means training in a simulated environment before ever leaving the ground. Through the acquisition of the VAMPIRE drone flight simulator system, NIAS is bringing that option to UAS as well. Provided for free, the simulator will allow the training of advanced commercial drone pilots in a safe and controllable environment that will allow them to gain experience without the associated risk inherent in drone flight.
The VAMPIRE flight simulator gives an instructor the option to introduce risk factors that would be unwise or unacceptable in a real world training program. Students can then learn to deal with these situations confidently, without ever having to expose themselves to the potentially dangerous results of failure. Through strict adherence to the procedure outlined in the Nevada Operational Risk Assessment standards, they can accurately identify the risk of an operation. From there, they can decide to proceed with their operation with the full confidence that both the operator and any bystanders will remain perfectly safe.