ICAO proposes legal framework for international RPAS design, type certification and operations

The 222nd session of the ICAO Council due to take place in March 2021 proposes a number of amendments to establish a legal framework for the design, type certification and operation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operating across international borders and over the high seas under Instrument Flight Rules.

The European Union is a strong supporter of the efforts by ICAO to establish this legal framework and is due to make a decision on behalf of the Union as regards the envisaged adoption of Amendment 177 to Annex 1, Amendment 47 to Annex 2, Amendment 108 to Annex 8, Amendment 90 to Annex 10 and of the new volume VI to Annex 10 the Convention on International Civil Aviation at the 222nd session.

The amendments include:

  • Proposals in Part II of Annex 8 that provide an overview of the general airworthiness procedures for certification and continuing airworthiness applicable to remotely piloted aeroplanes (RPA);
  • introduction of a new Part VIII to Annex 8 of the Chicago Convention related to RPA;
  • introduction of a new part IX to Annex 8 of the Chicago Convention related to remotely piloted helicopters;
  • introduction of a new part X to the Annex 8 of the Chicago Convention related to the Remote Pilot Station (RPS); and
  • further amendments relating to RPAS command and control link systems and procedures.

The proposed amendments are envisaged to become applicable on 28 November 2024

The ICAO Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel (RPASP) has been tasked with the development of SARPs, manuals and guidance material paving the way for the operation of Remotely Piloted Aircraft across international borders under Instrument Flight Rules. Member States have been consulted on the proposed amendments with ICAO State Letters AN 7/67.1.1-19/52 and AN 3/5.12-19/53, including the proposals for the amendment of Annexes 8 and 10 of the Chicago Convention and consequential changes to Annexes 1 and 2 of the Chicago Convention.

The amendments initially proposed in State Letter AN 3/5.12-19/53 relate to the airworthiness of remotely piloted fixed wing aircraft, the airworthiness of remotely piloted helicopters and the remote pilot station (RPS). These SARPs were developed for RPAS which will undergo the type certification process consistent with ICAO Doc 10019, Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), and reinforced by the content and assumptions of the ICAO RPAS Concept of Operations (CONOPS).

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