Now that the FAA has opened the door – if only narrowly – to flight over people, drone pilots are getting ready to apply for waivers. Authorities, at least in the early stages, are almost certainly going to keep on the conservative side of safety in granting them. Drone pilots will need to look at all of the options available to make the safety case.
Israeli company ParaZero is one of the players providing proven safety solutions. With a sophisticated drone safety system that includes a parachute, ParaZero is successfully enabling safe and legal flights over people – and as of now, the system built for DJI’s Phantom series is available on their website. The SafeAir Phantom System is a smart parachute system that monitors UAS flight in real time, identifies critical failures and autonomously triggers a parachute, a flight termination system and an audio-warning buzzer.
Getting into the drone safety market early means being willing to invest in helping regulators develop their programs. For the past 18 months, ParaZero has worked with the FAA and partners including DJI to create a standard for drone parachutes appropriate for flight over people. That standard – (ASTM F3322-18) – was released in September 2018 and defines the requirements for the design, manufacturing and testing of sUAS parachute systems.
This past December, ParaZero, together with the Standard Institute of Israel (SII), completed the strenuous process of proving compliance, with a series of 45 aerial deployments to test and prove the reliability and effectiveness of the system. Based on the measured descent rate, a Phantom 4 equipped with a SafeAir Phantom is expected to meet the requirements for flight over people in the FAA’s recently published draft rule. (Example videos from the tests are available here.)
With ParaZero’s SafeAir System, North Dakota UAS operator, Botlink, was able to secure the first ever FAA waiver for flight over people with a DJI Phantom 4. The DJI Phantom 4 is one of the most popular drones in the world – used for construction, inspections, news and media and more.
“The certificate of compliance including the SII testing validation report are critical components of a waiver application,” says ParaZero. “These will enable operators to expand their use of Phantom 4 drones for more efficient operations in areas that were previously restricted.”
“DJI is pleased that its drones are increasingly being used as a platform for safety solutions in advanced operations, such as flight over people,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “As regulators worldwide develop the framework for beneficial drone uses, DJI drones, using innovative solutions from companies like ParaZero, are positioned to expand the scope of vital applications such as search and rescue, newsgathering, and public safety.”
Michael Huerta, Former FAA Administrator and member of ParaZero’s Advisory Board added “ParaZero’s SafeAir Systems have already been proven to mitigate risk in real-life scenarios. Certification based on the standard will allow regulators to approve operations with far more easily.”
“Development and compliance with ASTM standard is at the core of ParaZero’s vision” said Eden Attias, CEO of ParaZero. “To comply with the standard, we pushed the system to its limit and tested every imaginable failure scenario. The systems and compliance data are now available for purchase and use in waiver applications. We intend to continue expanding the safe and legal flight envelope of UAS operators by testing and certifying our safety systems for other DJI platforms already on the market.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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