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We are launching a simplified application process, via a new online platform, for Specific Category Operational Authorisations. This will significantly speed up and simply the application process for applicants.

The technical platform will be launched for PRDA-01 first then for SORA applications.

PDRA-01

April 2024: PDRA01

We’re launching the new PDRA01 Application Tool in the first week of April 2024.

PDRA-01 applications make up 90% of all Operational Authorisation (OA) requests within the Specific Category. Therefore, delivering this functionality first will provide the maximum benefit to users, and can be released while the UK SORA policy is in development.

Key features of the new PDRA01 Application Tool:

The new PDRA01 Application Tool has some key benefits for operators applying for a PDRA01 based Operational Authorisation, making the whole process quicker and more straightforward for the applicant, as well as significantly reducing application processing times:

  • A streamlined application process: PDRA01 applications will be declarative in nature, significantly reducing the amount of information required to be provided at the point of application
  • Faster processing: Authorisation outcomes will be provided within 24 hours for the majority of applications
  • One flat fee for all applications/reapplications based on the lower renewal price: As there will no longer be a separate process for a renewal, and all applicants will make the same application whether they already hold a PDRA01 or not. All users of the tool will be charged a single flat fee going forward.

The fee for each PDRA01 application made with the new tool will be published in the FY24/25 Scheme of Charges following this year’s consultation (to be published on 18 March 2024). The fee will be subject to the CAA’s annual price consultation for FY24/25 and future years.

The CAA will closely monitor volumes over the coming year to ensure the charge is set at the correct level to ensure CAA cost recovery for our regulatory services. Any subsequent price changes, if required, will be consulted on with industry as part of the CAA’s annual charging consultation cycle.

  • Shorter, simplified lead times: From the first week of April 2024, operators will only need to re-apply within 28 days of the expiry of their Operational Authorisation, reducing administrative processes for operators
  • Automatic notifications: Users will receive automatic notifications when their Operational Authorisation in the new tool is near expiry
  • Self-service access: Once application assessments are completed, applicants are notified of the outcome by email. PDRA01 Operational Authorisation certificates will then be available to view and download at any time in ‘My Registration’ within the online tool
  • Oversight regime: Post-application, operators will continue to be subject to compliance oversight during the 12-month period over which their authorisation is valid, as part of our oversight regime. This will involve being asked to provide an up-to-date Operations Manual, along with evidence that the processes within it are being followed, such as logbooks and other supporting documents.


What the launch means for operators:
There is no impact to current PDRA01 Operational Authorisations, which remain valid until their expiry date.

Due to the declarative nature of the new PDRA01 Application Tool, the same process is followed regardless of whether the CAA is issuing or reissuing an Operational Authorisation.

The charge for Operational Authorisations contributes towards the CAA’s ongoing regulation of the RPAS industry, including assessing applications, continuing oversight, policy and regulatory change, safety processes and introducing new and improved technology.

When applying for an initial a PDRA01 authorisation or re-applying for a second or subsequent PDRA01 you can do so in the following ways:

Using the new PDRA01 Application Tool:
Operators can use the new tool to apply for a new Operational Authorisation up to 28 days before their current authorisation expires. The new tool will be launched in the first week of April 2024.

Newly issued Operational Authorisations will be valid from 00:00 the day after your current authorisation expires.

The declarative nature of the new system means that the majority of authorisations are granted within 24hrs of the application being submitted, however, before starting the new application process we do recommend that (re)applicants ensure:

• You have a valid Operator ID
• You have your Operational Authorisation expiry date (if reapplying)
• You apply at least 7 working days before your current authorisation expires.

PDRA01 holders are subject to oversight checks at any point during the 12 month validity of their Operational Authorisation.

Using the old PDRA01 application form:
If you would like to submit an application using the current PDRA01 application form, you can only do so until the new tool goes live. We will give operators two weeks’ notice of the launch date. You will also be able to continue to complete and submit applications that are in progress on the current form for up to 30 days after the date the new tool goes live. Any applications not completed and submitted within this 30-day window will be deleted.

Applications submitted using the old form will not be able to take advantage of the benefits of the declarative nature and 24-hour processing time of the new PDRA01 Application Tool. You can expect applications to take up to 28 working days to be processed and Operational Authorisations granted.

How we’ll let you know when the tool is live:
The new PDRA01 Application Tool will be launched in the first week of April 2024. We’ll email registered operators to remind you that the tool is live and ready to use.

2025: SORA-based applications

The full tool, released in 2025, will allow operators to apply for any type of specific category Operational Authorisation, including for complex BVLOS operations. It will be built around the SORA methodology  and will include a number of features:

  • Support to the operator in calculating the ground and air-risk of the proposed operation;
  • Determination of the appropriate Specific Assurance & Integrity Level (SAIL) under SORA, indicating the overall level of risk associated with the operation;
  • Identification of the relevant Operational Safety Objectives (OSOs) that apply to the SAIL calculated, and the evidence required against each OSO;
  • An early validation of the compliance approach of the applicant, with the CAA, to agree the necessary evidence early on in the process;
  • The ability for flightworthiness assessments from Recognised Assessment Entities to be integrated into the application process where required at higher SAILs.

By guiding operators through the SORA process the tool will ensure that a consistent approach is used for risk assessment. This will result in improved safety, a faster application process for operators, and shorter processing times for complex applications compared to today.