Snapshots from the 2019 AAAE/Woolpert UAS Conference

This past week, Woolpert’s Thomas Mackie, Aaron Lawrence, Holly Stapleton, consultant Rick Day and I attended the 2019 AAAE/Woolpert Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Conference in Salt Lake City. The three-day event was one of the most successful and engaging UAS conferences I’ve attended, bringing together industry, airport and government leaders.

A personal highlight for me came from leading a multi-hour tabletop exercise in which participants collaborated in groups to discuss numerous UAS integration issues and relevant airport risks. The exercises helped participants better understand the varying perspectives on where the industry is with UAS integrations, while highlighting future challenges that we are excited to tackle.

Other major takeaways included:

  • The FAA is providing unwavering support for airports looking to integrate UAS. Multiple regulators attended the conference and provided clarity on upcoming policy changes, and they gained useful industry feedback from those in attendance.
  • Networking opportunities led to many conversations about new ways to solve our industry’s most pressing issues.
  • Multiple biologists attended the event, as we took a deep dive into using UAS to address airport wildlife concerns. Presentations and panels showed useful examples about how to employ this technology and protect animals at the same time.
  • Counter-UAS systems were put on display and the FAA shared how Remote ID will transform the airport community’s interactions with drones.
  • Urban transportation management and urban air mobility rounded out the conference, as attendees discussed the exciting future for package delivery, flying cars and swarming drones.

I look forward to partnering with AAAE again next year for this highly rewarding conference, as well as to the many other UAS-themed events in 2020 that will continue to grow our knowledge and expand the applications of this awesome tool. I am excited to see where we’ll be with this technology at the same time next year!

Zach Shuman

Zach Shuman is a survey phase manager and UAS pilot with an evolving knowledge of ground and flight operations. He ensures compliance with FAA regulations and develops operational and safety procedures.