Mar 07, 2016

Standards for Light RPAS - Who, How, What, When & With What Resources?

On 4 March 2016, a EUROCAE UAS/RPAS Workshop took place at EUROCONTROL headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Estimated Article Reading Time: 2 min.

The purpose of this workshop, which was attended by 72 persons, was to discuss the future working arrangements and work programme for the development of RPAS standards.

The topics discussed included the following:
• Standards & Acceptable Means of Compliance (with perspectives supplied by the EC, EASA, SESAR Joint Undertaking);
• Review of the perspectives & activities of ASTM, ASD, ASD/STAN, JARUS, WG73 & WG93;
• The possible structures of a new UAS/RPAS working group (WG).
Note: Strangely enough, not a single RPAS operator had been invited to give its views.

The conclusions of the discussions can be summarized as follows:
• The international, European & national standards organisations are not coordinating their respective work and consequently there is significant duplication & wasted effort;
• When asked for a show of hands, it became apparent that none of the paying EUROCAE members present were willing to commit resources to standards development for Light RPAS (< 25 kg);
• Standards work will concentrate on RPAS in the “Specific” & “Certified” categories (as defined by EASA);
• A single WG tackling standards work for all sizes of RPAS appears to be preferred by EUROCAE (but this opinion was not shared by the WG93 leadership, ASTM and UVS International);
• The leadership teams of WG73 & WG93 will jointly produce draft terms of reference (ToR) for the new WG on RPAS and will submit it to the EUROCAE General Secretariat (+ Technical Advisory Committee & Council) for approval.

This process is expected to be finalised in June 2016.

The ToR should include a section detailing participation possibilities for companies & experts that are not a member of EUROCAE:
- Limited working group participation (1-2 meetings; 3 months).
- Observer status for subject matter experts for limited participation in specific meetings.
Subsequently, a call inviting existing EUROCAE members to support the proposed WG & commit resources to it will be published by EUROCAE;
UVS International will disseminate this same call to its members and the wider Light RPAS community.
The approved ToR will be sent along with this call.

During the workshop on 4 March, UVS International insisted on 2 important points:
• It is an absolute necessity that RPAS operators & new disruptive technology companies (neither are traditional EUROCAE members) participate in this standards work.
• In view of the large number of Light RPAS (<25 kg – Open & Specific categories) already flying, it is imperative to tackle the standards applicable to them with priority & the utmost urgency.

The Light RPAS community [manufacturers & operators (current & future)] should pay attention to what is going on.
If they are not careful & pro-active, their commercial future may be conditioned by standards produced by players that are not directly involved with their specific community, nor really understand it.
At the same time, the RPAS communities (>25 & <25 kg) should both remember that airspace safety is a common responsibility that should be proportionately shared by all RPAS community members.
Defining this proportionality will be one of the keys to success.
It will be a challenge for EUROCAE to define a working group admittance policy that will motivate Micro and Small & Medium-sized Enterprises to join its upcoming initiative.

Another necessary enabler, which has already been recognized by JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems), will be to get ALL the standards organisations to realise that the coordination of their respective RPAS-related activities is of prime importance, not only for them, but also for the aviation communities they serve.
This challenge should urgently be taken on by the standards organisations.

Click HERE for a link to the presentations given at this workshop.