EASA’s proposal on BVLOS risk assessment amendment draws industry fire

The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) 2020-07 on “Unmanned aircraft system beyond visual line operations over populated areas or assemblies of people in the ´specific´ category’’ has received a number of critical responses from national regulators and industry, according to documents posted on the https://rpas-regulations.com website.

NPA 2020-07 has been drafted by EASA to clarify the conditions under which unmanned aircraft system (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations over a populated area or an assembly of people can be authorised in the ‘specific’ category (see https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/notices-of-proposed-amendment/npa-2020-07)

The National Aviation Authorities Regulation Implementation Coordination (NAARIC) group of UAS experts from the main European National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) has issued the following statement about the proposed amendment:

“The NAARIC group does not believe that the triggering safety-related issue for this NPA 2020-07 (i.e. the incident involving a small UAS produced by Matternet that took place while overflying a forest in Zurich, Switzerland a year ago) is directly or indirectly linked to the fact that such UAS operation was performed in BVLOS and much less to operating over a populated area or over an assembly of people as this was not the case.

“In fact, operational experience has shown that certain UAS operations are much safer when performed in BVLOS following a pre-programmed trajectory than those flights conducted manually in VLOS. In addition to this, the NAARIC group would like to remark, on the one hand, that, in accordance with ICAO Annex 13 on Aircraft accident and incident investigation and with Article 17 of Regulation (EU) No 996/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation, all safety recommendations from the independent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were implemented, and, on the other hand, that none of the drawn safety recommendations or conclusions questioned the suitability of the SORA methodology or its application.”

Meanwhile the German language Association for Unmanned Aviation UAV- DACH has also commented publicly on its view of the proposed amendment.

“With the present NPA 2020-07, EASA contradicts this principle of proportionality, and departs to a significant extent from the path of an operation-centric and risk-based approach. Should the NPA be implemented in its present form, then it will void prior investments, and stifle the industry rather than support it. None of the projections for the economical or societal benefits of unmanned aircraft will ever become manifest. UAV DACH e.V. demands to withdraw the present NPA, especially the proposals on GRC and SAIL, the intention of option 2 and the impact assessment, and to align with the specific operations risk analysis methodology as developed by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS).”

In reply to the statements above EASA commented: “The proposed NPA aims to respond to societal concerns and to contribute to public acceptance of UAS operations in particular in an urban environment. The consultation period for the NPA ended Sunday (31 May) and we will now review and take into consideration the feedback received.”

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(Image: Anton Watman/Shutterstock.com)

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