A drone by any other name…
The drone that was formerly known as the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has a new name — the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA).
Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said Air Force leadership discussed it and made a commitment to use the new term, although it does take some getting used to. “The more we use it, the more comfortable we get with it,” he said in an interview at a Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.
There was a reason for the name change. “To recognize more clearly that these systems are not unmanned, that there is a pilot, there is a sensor operator,” Donley said.
The Air Force wants to impress on the Federal Aviation Administration and the aerospace community that manages the air in the continental United States “that we’ve got positive control over these vehicles,” Donley said.
As for the requirements to fly the unpersonned aircraft, those are still developing.
“It’s not just video gaming but you have to have piloting skills to operate these aircraft and we want the operators to be certified in an FAA-like system going forward,” Donley said.
“It’s not just a flat screen, you’ve got to have flying skills that go with it,” he said. Do they need the high-performance fighter training? “Maybe not,” Donley said.
Photo credit: Reuters/Stelios Varias (Donley)