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2016 Aviation Insurance Report (continuous)
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UAS Operations Present Both Risk and Opportunity

While the booming unmanned aircraft system (UAS) population had already gained the aviation insurance industry’s attention a few years ago, UAS and the impact on risk management was a hot topic at this year’s AIA conference. The sheer numbers of UAS being sold represent both risk and opportunity. The FAA estimates approximately 2.5 million UAS will be sold this year. Of these, approximately 600,000 will be for commercial use;, with the remainder flown by hobbyists. Some 435,000 recreational UAS operators have already registered an average of 1.5 drones each on the FAA Small UAS Aircraft Registry. While some hobbyists are joining the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which provides education on regulations and procedures to new UAS pilots and liability coverage under its $2.5 million general liability insurance program, those who do not may remain unaware of registration requirements, airspace restrictions and even operational safety procedures (such as always flying with a spotter and keeping the UAS within line of sight).

“There are essentially two sides to the UAS manufacturing industry,” said James Van Meter, aviation practice leader for UAS at Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, who is himself a fixed-wing pilot and UAS operator. “Some of them view themselves as airmen and maintain that airmen will always be the ones operating this equipment. The others are roboticists, who feel they can make the technology so good that anyone can operate it…It will be interesting to see in the next few years which party wins out. As aviation insurers, we feel that to operate UAS safely, operators need to be airmen and they need to approach the operations like pilots.”

Source: (to be continued)

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