Payload ● Shape: Test different payload shapes and containers. ● Winch: Test a winch system for dropping the payload so the payload is closer to the drone during flight for better stability and less drag. ● Bags: Test cinching the bag so it did not catch the downward prop wash. Drop Zones ● Target Size and Markings: In the real world, larger, wide-open drop zones without exact targets would be used. This would reduce time on target because less time would be spent avoiding obstacles and trying to drop inside an exact 10-foot diameter circle in the wind. Instead, the VO would verify that the drop area is safe, talk the pilot down to a safe drop altitude and declare, “drop, drop, drop”. After the rain, some of the targets needed to be repainted. Some of the targets were too close to obstacles to be realistic. However, the pilots and VO’s demonstrated their flying and communication skills by successfully dropping on all targets. ● Controller to Aircraft Signal Drop-Out at Drop Zone: We did not have many problems with this, but we did see some second-long video link dropouts when the drop zone was behind a building. We should establish and brief the pilots on proper procedures if dropping in the drop zone is not feasible. For example, they could change the drop zone at the VO’s discretion. Weather ● Wind Limit: We tested in various wind conditions and there were some times when the Airboss briefly suspended flight operations while he tested wind speeds with a hand-held anemometer. We did not establish a firm threshold for steady or gusting winds beyond which we would not fly. We likely would establish that in advance for future exercises. Another option we will consider and test in the future is using data from just-completed flights in the current environment to determine winds aloft. ● Storm Interruption: Just as day 2 was kicking off, a storm blew through and everyone had to shut down, pack up and find shelter. We responded well to the situation but we should have briefed everyone ahead of time on what to do, who was responsible for what and exactly where we would shelter in the event of a storm. Visual Observers in the Field ● Team VO’s: The pilot teams rotated into the role of VO (the Blue Team utilized DroneUp employees who rotated in as their VO). A pilot suggested that for consistency's sake, we potentially should have trained the VO’s on their roles and positioned them centrally in the landing areas rather than have a VO for each team. ● Layperson VO’s: We had one exercise where a layperson VO directed the pilots to a night drop. We had intended to use additional laypersons as VO and in a similar exercise in the future, we should do that.
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