I watched an interesting demonstration of drones used to spot fires and assist during search and rescue operations during a wildfire. A variety of unmanned aircraft that could be used in a variety of ways were demonstrated on November 8th and 9th at Griffiss International Airpost in Oneida County city of Rome, New York. This airstrip is a designated FAA test airport for unmanned aircraft.
According to the article, Syracuse to host drone industry convention, “The use of drones is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years because of their many potential uses, including search and rescue, disaster relief, media, inspection of rail and power lines, mail and freight transport, and crop surveillance.
However, a major challenge to the industry is the development of systems to safely integrate drones into the nation's airspace. Unlike manned aircraft, drones do not have a pilot to watch out for other aircraft.” Specialized radar systems must be used to track many types of unmanned aircraft.
The Unmanned Traffic Management (UMT) Convention provided training and workshops such as; Control, Payload, Collision Avoidance, and Low-Altitude Traffic Management: Spectrum Considerations, The Future of Industry Innovation to Enable UTM and more.
There were demonstrations of a variety of drones that could be utilized by Fire Departments to assist with difficult and dangerous operations now being carried out by manned aircraft including; spotting fires, dropping retardants and water on fires as well as assisting in search and rescues during wildfire events. The future of drone applications for wildfire use may help wildland firefighters be safer in the future.