For more complex operations within the Specific Category, the flightworthiness of the UAS needs to be assessed and validated as part of the Operational Authorisation process. This assessment will review evidence relating to the design, build and testing of the UAS, helping to ensure that it is safe to fly in the proposed operation.
This assessment will be integral to the new SORA risk assessment approach and will also address recommendations from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). However, as the number and complexity of applications increases in the future, the need to conduct these assessments will outstrip our resource.
Therefore, a new type of Recognised Assessment Entity, the RAE(F), will be created to carry these out on our behalf. The RAE(F) will validate evidence of compliance provided by operators against technical requirements in their SORA-based application for an Operational Authorisation. These technical requirements relate to:
- Ground and air-risk mitigations put in place
- Containment of the UA within the operational volume
- Relevant Operational Safety Objectives (OSOs)
The RAE(F) will work directly with the applicant and then, if satisfied, give a recommendation to the CAA that the UAS is flightworthy.
The concept of a ‘SAIL Mark’ for UAS is also under development. This would see the RAE(F) working directly with UAS manufacturers during development.
By validating OEM evidence, it will be possible to deliver a ‘SAIL Mark’ against a particular make & model of UAS, aligned to the SAIL levels within SORA in which it is safe to operate.
We anticipate a consultation on this in early 2024 with the scheme live in Q3/4 2024. This date represents the planned publication dates of policy material for the RAE scheme. It is anticipated that additional time will be required for potential RAE organisations to develop their applications and for the CAA to assess and approve RAEs under the new scheme.