The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has announced the appointment of the newly formed Agricultural Aerial Remote Sensing Council (AgARS Council) to serve on a steering committee and as brand ambassadors who will help develop the Trusted Operator Program (TOP) for remote pilots and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) training organizations that serve the agriculture community.
The TOP, which AUVSI launched in November, is a UAS community initiative to facilitate best practices, codes of conduct and professionalism for operators of services provided by UAS, also known as drones. “There is no other organization that can drive and support the UAS industry with such a critical initiative than AUVSI and it is important to bring on key industry stakeholders, such as the AgARS Council,” said Brian Wynne, AUVSI’s president and CEO. “As more commercial UAS pilots are trained and certified, they will join the aviation community’s long-standing culture and commitment to safe and reliable performance.”
The initial planning for the TOP started early last year during meetings of AUVSI's Remote Pilots Council (RPC) that were held across the country. RPC members and other remote pilots licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration discussed the need for higher levels of professionalism through consistent training, which would allow UAS operators flying for business purposes to further distinguish themselves in the market.
In addition, RPC members said there is a lack of understanding of the legal implications involved in contracting UAS services that do not have certified and demonstrated safety and compliance protocols. This affects insurance costs, perceived market value for services, customer trust and regulatory oversight.
“There is an urgent need to unify the remote pilot community and remote pilot training providers to facilitate a recognized guide for training protocols, best practices and conduct. This will support reliability, safety, professionalism and trust in the UAS industry,” Wynne said. “The training protocols that are envisioned for the TOP will lead to many benefits, such as a commitment to safety, lower insurance premiums and helping advance regulations that permit expanded operations, including flying at night, over people, and beyond line of sight.”
The TOP steering committee will work to highlight gaps in existing training protocols and help develop new ones. Brand ambassadors will promote the program to stakeholders throughout the UAS community.
The Trusted Operator Program has been recognized as a critical effort for remote pilots and training organizations to demonstrate RELIABILITY, SAFETY, PROFESSIONALISM AND TRUST in the UAS industry. As an independent community based association, AUVSI will give more power and credibility to its members and increase the ability for AUVSI to advocate on their behalf with this TOP community based initiative.