Airspacelink advert

UK Airspeeder drone crash report has wide implications for operators, regulators

The report by the UK’s Accident and Investigation Branch (AAIB) into the crash of the 95kg Alauda Airspeeder Mk II scale demonstrator drone will have major implications for the way the UK’s aviation safety regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reviews drone manufacturers’ and operators’ safety management systems. The AAIB has also recommended that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) adopt appropriate design, production, maintenance and reliability standards for all UAS with aircraft capable of imparting over 80 joules of energy.

According to the AAIB:

“As a result of this investigation the CAA have conducted a review of the Operating Safety Case (OSC) audit process and introduced changes to the oversight process. All audits have inbuilt peer review and are conducted by audit teams. A ‘Knowledge Base’ has been developed to capture best practice and share knowledge and new audit checklists have been developed within the audit software to capture all the current regulatory requirements. Inspectors and Surveyors have taken on a new, qualitative and subjective approach to auditing, removing the quantitative, checklist-based approach that was used before. Analysis of the competence, value and performance of parts of the OSC are emphasised, as opposed to a ‘tick box’ approach to checking whether paragraphs or sections are included. An onsite audit procedure is also in development to more accurately target time when face to face with an applicant, focusing on elements that cannot be reviewed remotely.”

While performing a demonstration flight, the remote pilot lost control of the drone. “After the loss of control had been confirmed by the remote pilot, the safety ‘kill switch’ was operated but had no effect,” says the report. “The Unmanned Aircraft then climbed to approximately 8,000 ft, entering controlled airspace at a holding point for flights arriving at Gatwick Airport, before its battery depleted and it fell to the ground. It crashed in a field of crops approximately 40 m from occupied houses and 700 m outside of its designated operating area. There were no injuries.”

A total of 15 safety recommendation were made as a result of the investigation:

  • It is recommended that Riotplan Proprietary Limited, trading as Alauda Racing, amends its processes to ensure that it designs, builds and tests unmanned and manned aircraft in accordance with appropriate standards to ensure the safety of those who may be affected by their operation.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority update Civil Aviation Publication 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance & Policy, to require detailed evaluation of any Unmanned Aircraft Systems that use onboard systems to mitigate risks with Risk Severity Classifications of ‘Major’, ‘Hazardous’ or ‘Catastrophic’.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority update Civil Aviation Publication 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance & Policy, to provide guidance on the planning, completion and documenting of Radio Frequency surveys to reduce the risk of Radio Frequency interference or signal loss when operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority require Unmanned Aircraft System operators, that use unmanned aircraft which rely on a radio link to operate safety systems, to provide Radio Frequency survey reports to the Civil Aviation Authority for review, to ensure they are suitable and sufficient.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority update Civil Aviation Publication 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance & Policy, with guidance on how to define an Unmanned Aircraft System’s operational and safety areas, using up-to-date maps, accurate trajectory analysis and human or automated safety system reaction times, to ensure a safe operation.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority update Civil Aviation Publication 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance & Policy, to provide examples of Unmanned Aircraft System safety systems.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority introduce requirements to define a minimum standard for safety systems to be installed in Unmanned Aircraft Systems operating under an Operational Authorisation, to ensure adequate mitigation in the event of a malfunction.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority require Unmanned Aircraft System operations under an Operational Authorisation to be fitted with a data recording system which is capable of demonstrating: compliance with the Authorisation’s conditions, safe operation and the logging of any failures which may affect the safe operation of the Unmanned Aircraft System.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority specify the minimum requirements for the monitoring of Unmanned Aircraft System high-voltage stored energy devices, to ensure safety of operation.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority specify the minimum requirements for readily identifiable warnings and safety information on Unmanned Aircraft high-voltage stored energy devices to inform 3rd parties of the potential hazard.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority ensure that operators of Unmanned Aircraft Systems have an effective Safety Management System in place prior to issuing an Operational Authorisation.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority, before issuing an Operational Authorisation to operate an Unmanned Aircraft System they have not previously had experience with, carry out a physical examination of the Unmanned Aircraft System to ensure that it is designed and built to suitable standards, and observe a test flight to confirm operation in accordance with the Operating Safety Case.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority update Civil Aviation Publication 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance & Policy, to include reference to the consequences of not complying with the conditions of an Operational Authorisation to operate an Unmanned Aircraft System.
  • It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority adopt appropriate design, production, maintenance and reliability standards for all Unmanned Aircraft Systems with aircraft capable of imparting over 80 joules of energy.
  • It is recommended that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency adopt appropriate design, production, maintenance and reliability standards for all Unmanned Aircraft Systems with aircraft capable of imparting over 80 joules of energy.

For more information

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/602bb22f8fa8f50388f9f000/Alauda_Airspeeder_Mk_II_UAS_reg_na_03-21.pdf

Share this:
Rheinmetall advert