HAPS Alliance publishes new white paper on acceptable levels of risks

The HAPS Alliance, an international association of cross-industry players working to enable a High-Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) ecosystem, today announced the publication of its white paper entitled, Acceptable Levels of Risk for HAPS.

Written by the HAPS Alliance Aviation Working Group (AWG), the paper highlights how leading experts in the field of HAPS have reimagined the traditional safety metrics used in aviation and introduced new approaches to setting acceptable levels of risk for this emerging technology.

“The white paper delves into the inherent challenges of setting safety metrics for HAPS, highlighting that traditional aviation safety metrics, such as the probability of catastrophic accidents per flight hour or mission, are insufficient for HAPS, said an alliance press release. “Instead, the white paper recommends “third party-centric” metrics, which measure the risk from the perspective of the exposed third parties. This fresh perspective considers individual and collective risk limits for both ground and air risk.”

“Conventional aviation safety measures are not well suited for HAPS. The white paper’s proposed framework is tailored to the distinctive challenges and capabilities of HAPS technology, offering a more encompassing, flexible, and appropriate method for risk management,” said HAPS Alliance AWG Chair Andy Thurling. “The whitepaper’s suggested guidance has the potential to expedite the secure introduction of HAPS across diverse regions, stimulating innovation and economic expansion, all while upholding the highest safety standards.”

The white paper includes the following items:

  • Innovative Risk Metrics: The white paper introduces a matrix for acceptable risk levels, which takes into account both individual and collective risk limits for ground and air risk. This new framework provides a comprehensive approach to evaluating risk and ensuring the safety of HAPS operations.
  • A Framework Approach: The white paper draws inspiration from well-established risk management frameworks, such as the UK Health and Safety Executive’s As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) framework. By examining risks already accepted by exposed parties, both within and outside aviation, the paper proposes a more robust way to set acceptable levels of risk for HAPS.
  • Operator Self-Management: The white paper suggests a proactive approach to risk management, where operators take an active role in controlling risk by managing factors such as the population (or aircraft traffic) density they overfly, time spent in specific areas, and the number and types of HAPS platforms used. This approach allows operators to begin operations in lower-risk regions, learn from their experiences, and improve their platforms while gradually expanding to higher-risk regions.
  • A Shift in Certification: The proposed framework aims to redefine the concept of “certification” for HAPS operators. Rather than a binary approval to operate commercially, certification would represent an evaluation of the “risk rate” on a continuous scale, ensuring that the accumulation of risk is accurately tracked and is reflected in the evolving operational approvals.

For more information


(Image: The AALTO Zephyr is one of the most persistent fixed-wing High Altitude Platform Stations (HAPS) in operation today – AALTO)

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