Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) in HMA

The term Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) is used by some Civil Aviation Authorities instead of Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) or ‘drone’ because the word ‘vehicle’ implies transportation of some kind and not all SUA have the capacity to transport a payload. And while the term 'drone' describes the noise they make rather well, the word has negative associations almost everywhere, so is best avoided when trying to get permission to use them.

SUA have been used successfully in support of HMA field activities for more than five years but National Mine Action Authorities have no IMAS guidance about their safe use and in some countries their use is simply banned. This is a shame because their utility is already proven and could easily be extended as the commercially available machines improve.

That said, there are real safety, security and privacy concerns about their uncontrolled use, so some kind of standard is needed. See the Powerpoint presentation Security issues and small unmanned aircraft. The presentation has a Word script to go with it.

The JMU Journal of Conventional Weapons DestructionI published an article about using small SUA in HMA that I wrote in 2017. It can be read as a PDF here.

To serve as a guide for both National Mine Action Authorities and SUA users, I was asked to draft a generic SOP for the use of SUA in HMA that would cover all aircraft up to 7kg take-off weight. The original draft has now been updated for inclusion in the Global SOPs. Click here to read it as a PDF. Or here if you want a copy in Word.