The inaugural NATE Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Operations “Field Day Showcase” was held this week at a Crown Castle tower site located in Gainesville, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., educating representatives of federal government agencies, industry and media with drone flight demonstrations.
Additionally, UAS (or drone) and aviation subject matter experts discussed the impact that drones are having on the wireless industry and how the regulatory environment can be improved to facilitate the growth of drown use in the future.
“We wanted to bring people together to showcase the potential of drones as talk about the regulatory challenges that still may exist,” said Todd Schlekeway, NATE CEO. “We need to get drones to scale in our industry. As the regulatory environment gets better, on the heels of the FAA reauthorization and the training gets better, drones will continue to scale in our industry.”
ETAK Systems; Talon Aerolytics; Ehresmann Engineering; and B+T Group, conducted the demonstrations that showed applications and use cases for drones from the perspectives of wireless carriers, vertical realtors, contractors and technicians in real time directly from the tower-site.
“The FAA plays a major role in the increased use of drones through regulation and the ease at which waivers are available,” Schlekeway said. “But industry also plays a major role through its vetting processes to clear companies to fly drones at their sites.”
The idea for the Field Day Showcase was formed at the NATE UAS Summit in Detroit last August as an opportunity to educate government on the challenges of flying drones next to towers and pilot training that is needed.
“The timing of this UAS Showcase event could not have been better given the fact that it was held in the immediate aftermath of the passing of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 legislation,” stated NATE UAS Committee Chairman Jimmy Miller. “The showcase enabled influential stakeholders from both the public and private sectors the platform to witness first-hand the power of the drone and facilitate discussions that will ultimately help get commercial UAS operations to scale in our diverse industry.”
NATE Lobbies Congress, FCC
The Field Day Showcase was one day out of a busy week for NATE as it paid visits to Congress, including representatives of the Senate Commerce Committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Aviation Subcommittee, the House Natural Resources Committee on Federal Lands.
“Our topics of discussion include workforce development and the need for more workers; how private industry and public entities can form partnerships, safety is always a major component,” Schlekeway said. “Streamlining deployment is always a big part of our agenda, because it speeds work to our members. Spectrum access for the carriers also gives our companies work.”
Accompanying Schlekeway on the Hill visits include Jim Goldwater, NATE; Jim Tracy, Legacy Telecommunications; Jimmy Miller, MillerCo; John Paul Jones, Tower & Turbine Technologies; and Shama Ray, Above All Tower Climbing.