The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) invites applicants to join the newly established Digitising Specific Category Operations (DiSCO) Working Group. DiSCO was created to help facilitate engagement, consultation, and collaboration between the Civil Aviation Authority and industry. It is designed to support scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone operations in the UK, streamlining the application and risk assessment process for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).
The project has four key elements:
- A globally standardised approach to RPAS risk assessment
- An enhanced remote pilot competency framework
- A new flightworthiness scheme that allows operators to demonstrate the robustness of their RPAS through assessment
- A new online application tool providing a streamlined and user-friendly process, supporting operators in applying for and receiving operational authorisations.
To develop operational authorisation process for BVLOS Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the Specific Category, the project will deliver a new globally standardised approach to RPAS risk assessment (SORA), an expanded and enhanced remote pilot competency framework, and a new flightworthiness scheme that allows operators to demonstrate the robustness of their RPAS through assessment by an external Recognised Assessment Entity (RAE). These elements will be brought together within a new online application tool that provides a streamlined and user-friendly process that supports operators in applying for and receiving operational authorisations.
The initial deployment of the application tool will be designed to handle only PDRA-01 applications. These currently account for over 90% of all operational authorisation (OA) requests within the Specific Category, and therefore delivering this functionality first will provide the maximum benefit to users. Under the new application process, based on the declarative nature of PDRA-01, an authorisation will be granted in less than 24 hours.
The new PDRA-01 application tool is planned to go-live in March 2024.
The full version of the tool will allow operators to apply for any type of operation, including complex BVLOS operations. The tool will be built around the SORA methodology and include a range of features to support operators in the use of the SORA risk assessment process.
This is planned to go-live in Q1/Q2 2025. As part of this process, the CAA is committed to ensuring that needs and expectations of stakeholders align with the development and implementation of the DiSCO project, maintaining a high standard of safety while continuing to promote efficiency and innovation in Specific Category operations of RPAS.
To do this, we are establishing the DiSCO Stakeholder Working Group to facilitate engagement, consultation, and collaboration between the CAA and industry.
The CAA invites stakeholders to register their interest in one (or more) areas:
- RPAS Manufacturers/OEM’s/Parts OEM’s in the Specific Category, or experts with aviation (or similar) industry knowledge that is directly applicable.
- RPAS Operators, RAE’s, other service providers and professional associations or experts with aviation (or similar) industry knowledge that is directly applicable.
- Safety experts and aviation professionals with relevant expertise in RPAS operations and regulations or experts with aviation (or similar) industry knowledge that is directly applicable.
- Any stakeholder who would like to participate in our new application tool user experience testing programme.
This application process is designed to ensure that the SWG is comprised of a fair and inclusive balance of stakeholders. The SWG will only accept applications from individuals, or individuals acting as a representative of their respective organisation(s). The CAA is unable to accept applications from organisations as an entity.
Apply to join the working group here
For more information visit: