Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Operations Through the lens of a high reliability system: Challenges and Opportunities
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Scientific articles 
This study examines the impact of regulations and standard procedures on safety outcomes in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations, specifically focussing on Norwegian military UAV systems, from a high‐reliability organization (HRO) perspective. By analyzing data from existing regulations, accident reports, and interviews with military drone pilots using thematic analysis, we identify key recurring themes. Our findings highlight the importance of fatigue and exhaustion due to the absence of regulations on resting time for military drone pilots. This poses substantial risks and increases the likelihood of accidents and incidents in UAV operations. Additionally, we uncover gaps in safety reporting and accountability for military UAV pilots, indicating the need for improved reporting procedures that consider the unique operational elements of UAVs. Effective communication between stakeholders, including drone pilots, ground crew, and air traffic controllers, emerges as a critical factor in maintaining situational awareness. This emphasis on communication is consistent with HRO principles and supports the essential safety tasks of UAV pilots, namely sense‐making, decision making, and performance. By uncovering the impact of regulations and operational procedures on safety outcomes and addressing fatigue in UAV operations, this research contributes to enhancing the safety and reliability of Norwegian military UAV systems.