March 18, 2017 - Dubois, WY.- As the industrialized world creates amazing technology at a pace faster than it did in any generation before, it becomes necessary to create some universal structure to ensure global understanding. The goal is to categorize, define and lock in terms that were previously agreed upon throughout recent history.
As new technology is designed and deployed, universal tems continue to be accepted and work. From time to time, there needs to be a new term to define a process or procedure. It's reasonable so we can maintain some consistency in written and verbal language used to define something. Unless there is a difficulty by a large segment of humanity not inherently understanding a process due to it being new and not widely known, we should continue to be consistent in nomenclature.
New areas of technology that will change the global economy and way of life include:
1. Artificial Intelligence
3. Autonomous Vehicles
4. UAS / AUV Aircraft
River Pilot defines a pilot: A pilot is any human being who is physically in the conveyance and is using their training, skills, medical certification, intelligence and talent to either maintain a current position or navigate from one location to another. They mitigate harm to themselves or those in their care, use their physical prowess to control the coveyance and maintain command authority over the outcome of the event.
The hierarchy is as follows:
a. Pilot - A person who is in the craft, manipulating surfaces to achieve a desired outcome.
b. Remote Control Operator - A person who is remotely controlling a craft or device using any remote control means necessary to achieve a desired outcome.
c. Autonomous - A craft or device that is given an objective and it uses its intelligence or programming to achieve the desired outcome.
Example: Starting in late 2016, the US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has been allowing remote control UAS/UAV "drone" operators to register as "pilots". That deviation from the previously accepted defintion of a pilot and what it takes to be a pilot in the USA, diluted the value of being a pilot. Months or years of training, discipline, technique, skill and pride are devalued once the FAA began to equate a remote control operator (RCO) of a conveyance as a pilot. The correct nomenclature would have been, and should be, to call this new discipline Remote Control Operators (RCO). Up until recently, people that operated remote control cars and planes, were playing with what were called "R/C" cars or planes. Then, without cause, the use of the term changed. The same scenario happened with the devaluation of the term "Doctor", which used to mean a medical doctor (M.D.). Then, as every discipline wanted to be known as a doctor, the word and definiton was co-opted.
Who was the person that decided that drone operators were pilots? The definition change seemed to appear with the constant promotion of the idea by FAA administrator Michael P. Huerta and former Secretary Of Transportation Anthony Foxx. Here is a December 14, 2015 announcement of a ruling. In it, Secretary Foxx is quoted as saying, "Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility." Of course, the US president at the time extolled the growth of the industry so the lobbyists and a new group of people looking for validation and profit, surely asked for this change. For whatever ends, its seems to have started the idea of UAV operators as pilots down the path. The earliest referral to a Pilot In Command (PIC) may have been as early as 2007 in "guidance, policies and memos" that took on the feel of law. Is this notice it states, "Key to the concept are the roles of pilot-in-command (PIC) and observer. The PIC concept is essential to the safe operation of manned aircraft. The FAA’s UAS guidance applies this PIC concept to unmanned aircraft and includes minimum qualifications and currency requirements. The PIC is simply the person in control of, and responsible for, the UAS." Had the correct concept been attributed at this time, the PIC would have been properly categorized as OIC (Operator In Command)
On February 21, 2017 the AOPA announced that it would begin recognizing Remote Control Operators (RCO) as pilots. The AOPA has of course seen this as an opportunity to grow their long static ranks and accept more dues. Here is the rationale behind this decision in our opinion. The AOPA perceived this growth in its membership as a way to ultimately influence legislation for all of the aviation space. While that may be true, one has to ask, "At what cost?". Furthermore, it will continue to cause aircraft pilots to ask' "So what kind of pilot are you?. What do you fly?" Knowing that the requirements for a pilot and an RCO are actually quite different.
We propose that the definiton of a pilot maintain a standard or excellence and pride regardless what is happening in other technological segments. We salute pilots past, present and future.
- River Pilot
Updated 13 June 2017