RPAS consultation on future Specific Operating Risk Assessment (SORA)

RPAS consultation on future Specific Operating Risk Assessment (SORA)

In the future, we will be introducing the Specific Operating Risk Assessment (SORA) for UK RPAS operations in the specific category.

This is a way to classify the risk posed by an RPAS and then identify mitigations and safety objectives. It allows the operator to identify operational limitations, and training objectives for the personnel involved (e.g. remote pilots, observers, maintainers), technical requirements for the drone and develop the appropriate operational procedures that will be part of the operator manual.

Rather than regulation, it is a set of recommendations and guidelines to conducting a risk assessment and meeting required target levels of safety for use in the specific category. When introduced it can be used as an acceptable means of compliance to article 11 of the UAS implementing regulations.

We have been working within the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) for several years to develop this SORA.

JARUS is currently consulting (until 6 March 2023) on the latest version. You can reply to this consultation at JARUS External Consultation – “SORA Version 2.5 package” | JARUS (jarus-rpas.org). Any comments on this consultation need to be sent to JARUS directly, and not to the UK CAA.

As the current version is still being developed it isn’t yet available to UK operators to use as part of their Operational Authorisation. However, we are encouraging UK operators to respond to JARUS as we will use this work to build the UK specific SORA. This consultation is being done so the UK CAA meets our regulatory requirements to consult on changes as covered under the Basic Regulation Article 115.

JARUS is an international group comprising of national authorities and industry experts working to develop a harmonised approach to RPAS operations around the world. The SORA has been widely recognised and adopted as an acceptable means of compliance around the world (including EASA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to provide a robust safety case to competent authorities for RPAS operations in the Specific Category.

Its guidance material aims to allow each authority to write their own requirements and avoid duplication. Whether the UK’s future SORA will be recognised internationally will be down to individual National Aviation Authorities. Some nations may have different airspace requirements and national sensitivities that will need to be addressed between the applicant and the respective NAA on a case-by-case basis.

Once the JARUS consultation is complete, JARUS will publish the comment response document which we will publicise.