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CAP 722E Guidance and policy: Rotary wing Swarm Operations

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operating in the UK must meet at least the same safety and operational standards as manned aircraft when conducting the same type of operation in the same airspace.

As a result, when compared to the operations of manned aircraft of an equivalent class or
category, UAS operations must not present or create a greater hazard to persons, property, vehicles or vessels, either in the air or on the ground.

However, with unmanned aviation the primary consideration is the type of operation being conducted, rather than who or what is conducting it, or why it is being done. As there is ‘no one on board’ the aircraft, the consequences of an incident or accident are purely dependent on where that incident/accident takes place. The CAA’s focus is therefore on the risk that the UAS operation presents to third parties, which means that more effort or proof is required where the risk is greater.

Swarming is the operation of more than one unmanned aircraft (UA) controlled collectively rather than individually.

1.2 Scope

This document applies to civilian UAS operators wishing to apply for authorisation to operate rotary wing UA as a swarm within visual line of sight (VLOS).

This guidance applies to applications for a single swarm operation at a specific site or for
applications for multiple operations at different sites. The OSC will be more straightforward for single operations. The OSC’s complexity will increase significantly if the applicant wishes to obtain authorisation to operate a swarm at multiple sites.

Operations of swarms involving fixed wing UA, or flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), are outside the scope of this document. In these cases, UAS operators should contact the CAA directly to discuss further (see page 6 for contact details).

This document describes the requirements for an authorisation to operate a swarm. It also provides guidance for completing the OSC.


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