Operation Last-Mile: Critical Drone Delivery Testing Report

prior to having a drone in the air. Our Director of Training pointed out that the Part 107 pilot certificate is the only one that does not require a demonstration of Crew Resource Management. He suspects that many Part 107 pilots aren't prepared for or comfortable with the idea of delegating some of their authority to another crew member. He believes the drone industry needs to adopt a practical test as part of Part 107 certification so pilots can demonstrate their Crew Resource Management. ● Drop Zone Position Guidance: When the pilot tells the VO to “take us in”, the VO should start with altitude and obstacles, such as, “80 feet, clear of obstacles”. Then the VO should provide short, active direction guidance, such as “descend slowly”, “right 10 feet”, “hold there”, “you have trees on the left”. From 100 feet down, the VO should call out altitudes at 10-foot increments. At 20 feet, the VO should start counting down altitude in smaller increments, such as 15, 10, 8, 6, 4, and then 2 feet. The pilot knows to hold at 2 feet and the VO commands, “drop, drop, drop”. The pilot raises the landing gear and the package drops. The VO declares, “good drop” and checks airspace surroundings. One pilot suggested referring to obstacles in general as the situation is green (clear of all obstacles), yellow (no obstacles in the immediate vicinity), and red (go slow; close to obstacles). We should discuss that. ● Return to Home guidance: When the VO is satisfied the airspace is clear after the drop, he radios, “Green Base, Green VO...you are free of obstacles overhead. Ascend to return altitude”. The pilot ascends to return altitude, orients the drone to face home, and begins bringing the aircraft home. The VO continues to monitor the flight until the LoadMaster indicates that he and the pilot have sight of the drone. “Green VO, Green Base...we have visual on the Green drone”. At that point, the VO’s responsibilities for the flight are over. Our teams were not as consistent on this return handoff as they were on the “to-target” handoff. ● Drone Orientation: Everyone agreed that the VO should use the commands “forward”, “back”, “up”, “ascend”, “down” and “descend”. The pilot teams had differing ideas on how the VO should direct the left and right movements. Some preferred using a convention of pointing the drone due North once over the target and then using the compass directions to direct the pilot. But since the heading is not readily displayed on flight control screens, this would require the pilot to take time to orient the aircraft according to the map, which would take extra time. Some teams preferred having the VO take note of the nose of the aircraft and provide “left, right, forward, back” commands from the same viewpoint as the pilot. Additional field testing and/or consultation with more drone pilots are in order. The author prefers the commands, “roll right”, “roll left”, “forward”, “reverse”, “up”, “down”, “yaw left” and “yaw right” based on the orientation of the nose of the aircraft at the time of the communication, regardless of the heading. ● Radios: We had 20 radios on site. Each flight team member had a radio. These radios were a lower end, 15 channel Push to Talk (PTT) radios that did not support listening to 2 channels at a time. When only one flight team was operating, the radios worked

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