The Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) is a way to classify the risk posed by a UAS operation and then identify mitigations and safety objectives to counter those risks. It allows the UAS operator to identify operational limitations and training objectives for the personnel involved in the flights, technical requirements for the aircraft and develop the appropriate operational procedures.
SORA was developed by JARUS to provide a standardised methodology for assessing and mitigating the risks associated with operations in the Specific Category.
The UK SORA is still in development so for now UAS operators who wish to apply to fly in the Specific Category should continue to use the methodology and templates laid out in our CAP 722A publication.
UK SORA development
UK SORA and the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) SORA
There may be some differences between the UK and JARUS versions of SORA. These will be necessary to accommodate national requirements and will be laid out in our consultation for the UK SORA.
UK SORA and international operations
Individual National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) will decide whether to recognise the UK SORA using their assessment of the SORA submitted by applicants. Some states may have different airspace requirements, technical requirements and national sensitivities that will need to be addressed between the applicant and the respective NAA on a case-by-case basis.
Pre-Defined Risk Assessments (PDRAs)
The current PDRA package being developed by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) will be reviewed as part of the UK SORA project and if acceptable, we will adopt them in the UK.
Recognised Assessment Entities (RAEs)
The project is reviewing the scope and tasks of RAEs and assessing potential changes with ongoing discussions in the RAE community forum.
UK SORA implementation
UK SORA will be used as an Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) to Article 11 of Regulation (EU) No 2019/947 as retained (and amended in UK domestic law) under the European Union (Withdrawal Act 2018). SORA is not a regulation; it is a set of recommendations and guidelines for conducting a risk assessment and meeting required target levels of safety.
As SORA will be a new AMC for Article 11 of UK Regulation (EU) 2019/947, regulatory change is not required to implement it.
We plan to have the UK SORA ready for formal consultation in 2024. The timeline for this is driven by the aim to use JARUS V2.5 as the UK's baseline and then layering UK specificities on top to ensure the model is optimised for the UK
Training courses for UAS operators will be developed as part of the SORA project and we’ll provide more details on these when they’ve been confirmed.
Benefits of SORA and differences with the current risk assessment methodology
CAP 722A is primarily a qualitative methodology, whereas SORA is a more quantitative methodology. SORA has been developed internationally with consensus from multiple NAAs and industry experts and it sets an acceptable target level of safety for proposed operations in the Specific Category.
The Operating Safety Case (OSC)
OSCs will need to be revised for SORA so there will be a transitional period to allow operators to do this. The detail will be part of the consultation process.
The current application process for flights in the Specific Category may change, including application costs, and this will also be reviewed as part of the SORA implementation project. We will run a further consultation on costs as part of our regular annual Scheme of Charges review.
SORA and innovation projects
Use of SORA elements
Applicants should not use elements of SORA when completing a Specific Category application until it is implemented. Applications should be submitted using the methodology outlined in CAP 722A and mixing the methodologies is not recommended.
SORA is a complete risk assessment process. Applications involving a mixed methodology approach will increase the assessment time as the methodology will require evaluation to ensure it complies with Article 11 of UK Regulation (EU) 2019/947.
Plenary Update – April 2023
Our RPAS Policy Team attended the first JARUS Plenary of 2023 in April. We were one of the original five founding members of JARUS back in 2007. This was the first face to face plenary meeting since 2019. Currently there are four main groups in JARUS covering: operations, organisations and personnel, airworthiness, safety and risk management and automation of the concept of operations. We are active in all current working groups as well as holding a leadership position within the safety risk management group which is responsible for developing the SORA. This work is key to developing the UK SORA as an Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) for risk assessment in the specific category and will enable international harmonisation and recognition of this methodology. This will also help shape the future of scalable BVLOS operations within the UK, which is a strategic objective of the CAA. JARUS issued a release on the event.
Further information from the Plenary can be found on the official JARUS website.