Is My Agency Ready for an sUAS Unit?


Across the country, public safety agencies are utilizing sUAS to reduce time and costs while keeping their communities safe. In Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has worked with the Daytona Beach Police Department’s Aviation Unit on a number of fronts to assess hurricane damage, catch criminal suspects and support firefighting efforts. On the West Coast, agencies have used drones to assist in efforts during the recent California wildfires.

“A public safety agency’s sUAS unit can reduce the risk to its first responders and increase efficiency during an emergency response or recovery effort,” said Dr. Joe Cerreta, an assistant professor at Embry-Riddle. “These tools can support firefighting, search and rescue, accident reconstruction, damage assessment, and more.”

Key Considerations 

Establishing a successful sUAS public safety unit doesn’t happen overnight. An intense amount of planning, training and education are involved before the first drone ever takes flight. 

“It all comes down to creating a professional aviation program,” said Embry-Riddle Assistant Professor David Thirtyacre. “Insurance, liability, risk assessment and mitigation, proper training, and operational oversight are all huge pieces to consider in the public safety sector and often neglected until something goes wrong - and things go wrong all the time with sUAS.”

Thirtyacre offers several key takeaways for agencies that are considering an sUAS unit:

  • Identify objectives up front

  • Conduct a cost/benefit analysis

  • Assess available resources

  • Research and invest in training and equipment acquisition

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BREAKING NEWS: Rogue Drones – Major UK Airport Shuts Down after Unauthorized Drone Sightings


If the rogue drones flying around Gatwick Airport yesterday were merely out for fun, they chose a particularly bad time to break the rules.  During the holiday travel rush, flights were suspended, rerouted and delayed until 3 am Thursday local time at Gatwick Airport in England, due to reported sightings of drones within the restricted zone of the airport.


The news was picked up by several news sources, according to Reuters, which reported that sightings of two drones flying over airways at the UK’s second-busiest airport grounded all flights and turned away landings for hours beginning late Wednesday evening local time.

Planes were unable to depart, and a number of flights scheduled to land were diverted to other airports, Gatwick said in a statement.

Basic flight rules prohibit drones from flying around airports.  Reported sightings in the U.S. were one factor leading to the repeal of Section 336 in the U.S., eliminating some special considerations for recreational drones and making all drones subject to remote ID and registration requirements.

Per the AP:

Passengers complained on Twitter that their flights had landed at London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and other cities. Other flights were sent to France and the Netherlands.

Flights eventually resumed at around 3:00 a.m. local time on Thursday, according to the Guardian, but the airport wrote on Twitter nearly two hours later that further sightings of the drones had forced them to again close the runway.

“We will update when we have suitable reassurance that it is appropriate to re-open the runway,” the official Gatwick Airport LGW account wrote. “…We apologize to any affected passengers for this inconvenience but the safety of our passengers and all staff is our foremost priority.”

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Deloitte Launches a Drone Practice

Deloitte US has recently announced the launch of its Global Drone Solutions service, aimed at supporting public and private sector clients with drone strategy and integration.  This is occurring  as the sector rapidly accelerates deployment of drones for a variety of applications, and is another indicator that the scale and scope of drone deployments have reached a more enterprise level.

As drones have expanded into large commercial applications large consulting organizations such as Deloitte are seeking to build expertise  at the enterprise level to aid their clients in the application and deployment of drone technology.

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