DiSCO stakeholder working group part of UK digital transformation of specific category operations

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is transforming the operational authorisation process for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the Specific Category by standardising and simplifying the process, and providing a pathway to enable more complex RPAS operations in a scalable way.

According to the press release, the project comprises of four key workstreams:

A new standardised approach to risk assessment (UK SORA); A new risk assessment methodology for RPAS operations in the UK, based on the SORA process developed by JARUS as a global standard.

Pilot competence: A new scheme that will expand on the existing scheme to support a wider range of operational scenarios through the introduction of new certification levels.

Flightworthiness: Implementation of a new scheme utilising a network of third-party Recognised Assessment Entities (RAEs) to assess UAS flightworthiness on our behalf.

A new online application process:  A new platform and simplified application process for Specific Category operational authorisations.

The project will also work closely with several airspace projects to ensure UAS operations can be safely integrated in non-segregated airspace, including through the use of detect-and-avoid (DAA) systems and electronic conspicuity.

The project will deliver:

Better customer experience: A simplified, clearer and more efficient end-to-end process for applications and clearer guidance and information.

Reduced timescales for authorisations: A reduction in the time taken for CAA to assess and approve simple applications.

A standardised, consistent approach: SORA is a global, standardised approach that provides a transparent, consistent methodology for UAS risk assessment.

Proportionate measures: Safety measures that are employed will be proportional to the risk posed by the specific UAS operation.

Scalability: The changes will enable us to support increased demand in Specific Category operations.


The CAA aims to complete the project by the end of 2025, with some objectives being met ahead of this time. Target dates include:

  • Q1 2024 – Launch of new application tool for PDRA-01 applications
  • Q2 2024 – Remote Pilot Competency policy live
  • Q3/4 2024 – RAE(F) policy live
  • Q3/4 2024 – UK SORA policy live
  • 2025 – SORA-based applications on new application tool

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 until we provide further updates.

These dates represent the planned publication dates of policy material for each RAE scheme. It is anticipated that additional time will be required for potential RAE organisations to develop their applications and for the CAA to assess and approve RAEs under the new schemes.

Industry engagement

The CAA plans to run a number of consultations for SORA, remote pilot competency and flightworthiness as it develops the policies. The UK SORA will be based on JARUS version of SORA which has already had extensive consultation globally.

The CAA has also established a DiSCO Stakeholder Working Group (SWG) to facilitate engagement, consultation, and collaboration between the CAA and industry throughout the course of the project.

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