I think it’s time for us to nail this one. Let’s all agree that drones should be called “drones”. I’ve had a drone of my own for nearly two years now and I’m totally fed up with trying to use euphemisms like unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or remotely piloted aircraft.
When I bought a DJI hexacopter
from heliguy™ I called it my copter. Not very original I know but I thought when I used the word in conversation people would understand what I was on about. But no. People would assume I was talking about a helicopter.
So then I tried using multi-rotor for a while but this time people thought I must have bought a new lawnmower.
My first drone/copter
After going on a commercial pilot training course
I was bombarded with all of the military terms. So RPA is remotely piloted aircraft but RPAS is a remotely piloted aircraft system and includes the datalink and the transmitter/controller.
Unmanned aerial vehicle always sounds weird. Is it a flying car? Why not just call it an unmanned aircraft? Then there’s ROAV – remotely operated aerial vehicle, which can get confused with ROV – remotely operated vehicle.
Some people call it a craft. Others, especially in the business, call it a platform. Now there's a trend, which appears to have flown over here from the States, to call it your bird. Very confusing!
Don’t get me wrong. I'm not at all keen on the word drone. It has sinister connotations as well as alternative meanings. I’ve tried my best to discourage people from using the word but, at the end of the day, it’s the only word that a person in the street will relate to. It’s a quick and easy, tabloid headline type word that does the job because people understand it.
Inevitably it’ll lead to jokes about Hellfire missiles or start up a discussion about personal privacy or the Data Protection Act because you're never alone with a drone. But at least the basic concept of a drone, be it fixed wing or multi-rotor, will be easily understood.
When you look up drone in the dictionary you have to get past “a low continuous humming sound”, “a continuous musical note of low pitch” and “a male bee in a colony of social bees” before you find definition number 4: a remote-controlled pilotless aircraft.
Now there’s a thought. Why don’t I call my drone an RCPA?
That's enough of me droning on. I’m sure, without any prompting, you’ll tell us what you think.