U.S.-based Wyvern has advised business aviation on safety best practices for more than two decades. It also now assesses vendor compliance with quality- and safety-management practices for end users of UAV services.
“They want to know when they’re going out and sourcing these vendors—do they meet a certain benchmark? These are [vendors] that have no experience for the most part,” said Wyvern CEO Art Dawley.
“This is the challenge,” said Dawley, who spoke with AIN during the Xponential 2016 conference in New Orleans earlier this month. “We’re not working with aviation providers, number one,” he explained. “We found that in the acceptance, even the recognition, of these types of processes, most operators have no clue. Safety management is not even part of what they do. These are people who have never had to document and implement organizational policies, risk management processes—all these kinds of things.”
At XPONENTIAL, Wyvern announced the launch of a safety assessment program for UAVs called EXACT, short for “Excellence through Assessment, Consistency and Training.” It provides a certification process for UAV operators benchmarked from the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Document 10019 Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. The goal of the program is to both help UAV consumers “make informed decisions” about the vendors they use, and measure vendors’ “commitment to mitigate risk” in their operations.
EXACT “takes many of the processes that have become the focus of safety management for manned aircraft but recognizes and tailors to the unique challenges of unmanned operations,” the company says. The program’s UAV-specific standards and recommended practices address technical performance of operations from remote pilot stations, command and control datalink, support equipment, payload management and other areas.
This is very much in line with the recently announced NBAA guidelines for choosing a vendor. It is another point of demarcation between the drone and aviation communities. And between small independent operators and large in-house departments which are managed as an aviation resource.
While Dawley acknowledges the coming of Part 107, we have to believe that this type of rigor will favor those with pilot licenses and in all likelihood 333s. We think it is safe to assume that an EXACT certified operation will also enjoy some consideration from underwriters as well.