Recent flight testing with our industry partners reminded me of a quote often repeated by our junior high school coach: “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. What the coach was saying is two-fold: that it was every athlete’s responsibility to support the team via their best performance and also, that individuals should enable each other to reach their best performance through camaraderie, competitiveness in training and maintaining qualification (grades). Simply put, taking responsibility for being the best version of yourself and also enabling others to do the same for the good of the whole. This belief system parallels the truths that drive us at AiRXOS and those within the unmanned aviation industry. Let me explain how.
At AiRXOS, we are driven by a number of fundamental beliefs regarding the future manned/un-manned ecosystem that most simply refer to as the ‘UTM-ecosystem’. First and foremost: “The safety and security of the National Airspace System (NAS) should never be compromised”. Each operator and operation must subscribe to “maintaining the strength of the chain”.
All operations are not created equal. Some occur in dense airspace over lots of people, while others occur in very rural areas where there are very few users of the airspace and/or people on the ground. Each of these, however, occurs in the NAS, one ecosystem, and each must subscribe to maintaining the level of safety that society has grown to expect from operations in the NAS. What this means is that operations that are risky, need a system that meets or exceeds that riskiness; those that are less risky require only systems where the performance meets that need.
Operations equate to value, and value is delivered by a system – not an airplane, or UTM micro-service or ground control computer, or pilot; value is delivered by a system of systems comprised of the formerly listed sub-systems, and more. Thus, each operation can be viewed as a link in a very big chain, and each link in that large chain can further be visualized as its own chain comprised of further interdependencies: quality of the vehicle, quality of the link, training of the operator, availability of the service, etc.
As we develop services to be deployed within our Air Mobility Platform™, we understand the critical links those services from within current and future operations – rural, urban, manned and unmanned. Also, as we build out our partner ecosystem, we recognize that the products and services (autopilots, vehicles, etc.) we interact with will all need to meet minimum performance/risk-based standards for safety, security and interoperability within the chain. Thus, back to the wrestling coach’s adage – “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.