Navigating Policy and Safety Challenges in the Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Industry
The skies are no longer just the domain of conventional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. With the rapid advancement of technology, drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) aircraft are shaping up to become an integral part of our modern sky. However, the growth of this industry has its challenges, particularly in relation to policy and safety.
Safety is paramount in aviation; stringent safety regulation is needed to minimise risk and ensure the well-being of passengers, crew and the public. Drones and AAM vehicles will operate close to populated, urban areas and will share existing airspace with crewed aircraft, which carries a significant challenge. Ensuring the safety of the operations and related technologies is a shared responsibility among operators, manufacturers, and regulators. Policy and regulation are essential to help guide and maintain the overall integrity and reliability of the aviation system.
One of the primary challenges in the drone and AAM industry is the ever-evolving regulatory landscape that tasks Government authorities with balancing innovation and safety. Aviation policy has historically been largely iterative due to the consistent physical configuration of commercial aircraft and the adaptive nature of changes to airspace routes and sectors. However, following the introduction of novel vehicles with varying size, purpose and capability, as well as the requirement for operations closer to people and buildings, regulators need to take a different approach. They are tasked with establishing policy that ensures an adequate level of safety, is consistent in scope across use cases, and is harmonised with international policy. As a result, they must rely on support from industry to inform and influence the policy process predicated on performance-based safety risk, within which certification and licensing sits. However, it can be difficult to ensure the level of safety they are approving is sufficient without a valid safety argument, and without clear policy, it is also difficult for industry to obtain testing data to pass to the regulator. Operators often find themselves navigating a complex web of rules, permissions, and airspace restrictions. Manufacturers, on the other hand, must ensure that their products comply with safety and performance standards, which are largely still in development. This inevitable lag between regulation and technological performance is the crux of the policy and safety issue.
Ebeni understands the frustrations that stem from regulatory ambiguity. We offer comprehensive consultancy services to operators, regulators, local authorities and manufacturers, helping them decipher the intricate policy landscape and expectations on performance and integrity. We are working with both regulators and industry to develop drone and AAM safety arguments that influence existing regulation and help regulators develop acceptable means of compliance. This places us on the leading edge, supporting policy development from both points of view. Our team of experts stays abreast of the latest changes in regulation and works closely with clients to ensure they operate within the boundaries of the core policies. This allows our clients to focus on their core business activities with peace of mind.
We provide training programmes and safety assessments to operators, and guide regulators through a safety risk approach, ensuring that they understand the risks and best practices, and help focus on where testing data can be realistically scaled to support safety arguments and hence influence regulatory decisions. We also guide and influence policy that will ensure that operators’ and manufacturers’ vehicles and supporting equipment meet the safety standards commensurate with the operation.
Enabling Innovation and Growth
Ebeni places safety at the forefront of everything we do, with a particular focus on safety and mission critical systems and operations. By supporting operators, manufacturers, local authorities, and regulators through tackling the challenges of policy and safety, we empower them to focus on what truly matters: innovation and growth. With the regulatory hurdles clarified and safety standards met, our clients can confidently invest in research and development, explore new applications, and expand their operations.