AirShare sat down with Chris Jackson from JacksonUAS, a vocal opponent of mandatory registration, and an experienced UAV pilot and engineer based in Auckland.
Chris started flying model aeroplanes at the ripe old age of 18, 20 odd years ago. His interest in flying cultivated a career in Aircraft Engineering at Air New Zealand. But his interest in UAVs created an opportunity four years ago to start his own business. JacksonUAS allows Chris to mesh his love of flying with engineering and his company specialises in everything from drone repair, design and builds for bespoke payloads and performance requirements.
Running your own business is hard work, especially in an emerging industry such as UAVs, challenges such as avoiding the race for the bottom, and focusing on opportunities that are interesting and push the limits of the technology.
But Chris sees that as par for the course of a new industry, with substantial growth ahead. For example, after the recent Fieldays he was encouraged by the growing interest and adoption of agricultural spraying using drones.
For JacksonUAS every day holds different challenges – it’s the surprise of what the next phone call brings that draws Chris out of the routine. He frequently travels for work and also gets involved with a wide spectrum of innovative opportunities, and the associated industry standard of NDAs for everything.
He says the normal winter slow down for the UAV industry hasn’t been that noticeable in 2019, though he's not sure if its attributed to a mild winter or exponential industry growth. "Industry commentators talk about a plateau, “peak drone”, having been reached every year, but still the industry grows year after year."
For Chris, mandatory registration looks to be a hollow offering. Chris notes that among the countries with a UAV registration scheme there hasn't been any enforcement action taken using it, nor is it likely to deter any nefarious operator, and he is unsure what the tangible benefits will be for the UAV pilots across New Zealand. He too is looking forward to seeing what the consultation document by the MOT (due out late this year) has to offer users.