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Unmanned Aerial Systems in European Airspace

Final Report Summary - ULTRA (Unmanned Aerial Systems in European Airspace)

Executive Summary:
The Unmanned Aerial Systems in European Airspace (ULTRA) project began in mid-2012, supported by the EC under its 7th Framework Programme (FP7) to address the defined activity 'Assessment of the potential insertion of unmanned aerial systems in the air transport system'. It has been performed by a consortium of 12 organisations from across Europe and with experience in all aspects related to RPAS.

The overall objectives of the ULTRA project have been:

• To provide a comprehensive set of recommendations for the incremental insertion of civil Light RPAS (RPA with operating mass up to 150 Kg) in the European airspace in the short-term (i.e. within 5 years from 2012)
• To provide specific recommendations for selected “Use Cases” to be explored as “quick win” business cases.
• Highlight what needs to be done in order to unlock the full potential of the civil Light RPAS market in the long-term (i.e. 10-15 years from 2012).

To address these objectives, the project was organized into work packages addressing: Regulatory and Certification Base, Adaptation of Infrastructures, Safety, Social impact and Business/Economic effects on European Industry. Through initial definition of four Use Cases, the work in each area has focused on the ‘quick win’ business cases.

Among the myriad of potential uses cases a few of them were selected (following a methodology developed within the project) to be further assessed as “quick win” (short term) business cases. These use cases are:

• Wind Energy Infrastructure Monitoring
• Disaster Management / Fire Fighting Assistance
• Aerial Photography
• Pipeline Monitoring

The first three could be performed as Visual Line Of Sight (VLOS) or Extended-VLOS (E-VLOS) operations but the final case would, in principle, require operating Beyond VLOS (BVLOS).

Nine technical reports addressing the different aspects covered in the project, have been produced along with an overall Final Report that draws together the work against the evolving background in the Light RPAS domain that has occurred since its inception.

Some of the major conclusions and recommendations of the ULTRA project include:

• VLOS operations, progressing to E-VLOS, for “small” RPAS (RPA mass up to 25 Kg), as well as BVLOS operations for Light RPAS in segregated airspace are already feasible, as proved by the growing number of these operations in Europe. Therefore, in order to allow business to progress and gain experience (essential for a proper regulation), it is recommended that the required regulations are promptly established where they are not yet in place. This is recommended even if, as in the case of “small” RPAS operating in (E)VLOS, such regulations are not fully harmonized across Europe (as in that case harmonizing afterwards will not required much effort, but gaining an early experience will be more crucial). There needs to be a progression from national to harmonised and, eventually, common EU safety rules for civil Light RPAS to assist a European (and global) market.

• In order not to penalize the Light RPAS business, regulations must follow the principle of simplicity (majority of SMEs involved), proportionality (with the size of systems and organizations) and flexibility (“learning curve”).

• Organizational and human factors are (as in manned aviation) the most significant factors contributing to safety issues, and this is expected to be aggravated in the civil Light RPAS sector, where most organizations involved are SMEs with lack of an aviation safety culture. Thus, it is essential to promote an aviation safety culture within this community.

• Equipment suitable for Light RPAS varies significantly in functionality and maturity with a lack of distinction between ‘hobby’ and ‘professional-oriented’ quality systems. Standardization of the specific Light RPAS aspects and qualification criteria for the related equipment is then a fundamental issue, especially for Light RPAS where airworthiness needs to be certified.

• Size, weight and power (SWaP) constraints are a key factor for Light RPAS equipment, with research and developments necessary to maintain a competitive supply base in Europe.

• Integration into the aviation system is a step wise process. Operations beyond those currently feasible (under (E)VLOS or airspace segregation) will require address of a need for increased remote pilot “situational awareness” and Light RPAS “detectability” by other airspace users, as key aspects for Light RPAS to be operated alongside other (manned) aircraft. A key, and already existing, technology enabler is ADS-B, also fundamental for the future ATM system (SESAR). Beyond these aspects, specific detect and avoid solutions (including the definition of collision avoidance manoeuvres relative to obstacles as well as air traffic) will have to be defined for Light RPAS to operate in non-segregated airspace. However, due to the SWaP constraints and limited performance, unrestricted operations of Light RPAS in non-segregated airspace are not considered likely in the foreseeable future.

• In all cases, a safe integration of Light RPAS in the aviation system requires establishing a commonly agreed risk criteria framework for their operations.

• Liability, insurance, privacy and data protection issues all require address in the near term, deciding whether the existing regulatory framework is applicable to RPAS or needs to include specific norms for RPAS.

• Efforts to engage with the general public, to explain what RPAS are/are not and what benefits they can provide in the civil sphere, need to be increased and continued beyond the constraints of ULTRA. These should use a communications strategy aimed at gaining acceptance for RPAS, which makes use of modern Information Technology techniques.

The consideration of the initially selected Use Cases in the light of the work performed on the regulatory, technical and social aspects of Light RPAS, has borne out the existence of strong business cases.

The ULTRA project has proved a challenging but fruitful activity within the constraints existing and the rapidly evolving background environment of activities relevant to Light RPAS. The range and mix of consortium members has provided extended debate on a number of issues but ultimately led to more robust results and concrete recommendations.

The detailed reports produced can be accessed via the publicly accessible website constructed for the ULTRA project, which also provides further detail on the consortium and other material related to its output. This can be found at

Project Context and Objectives:

The ULTRA project aims at providing a meaningful and complete analysis of the Light RPAS potential, including all aspects that represent a challenge for the integration of this segment of RPAS into the aviation system.

In order to fulfil the EC requirements for this Coordination and Support Action, the ULTRA Consortium defined the following overall objectives for the project:

• Provide a comprehensive set of recommendations for the incremental insertion of civil Light RPAS (RPA with operating mass up to 150 Kg) in the European airspace in the short-term (i.e. within 5 years from now)

• Provide specific recommendations for selected “Use Cases” to be explored as “quick win” business cases.

• Highlight what needs to be done in order to unlock the full potential of the civil Light RPAS market in the long-term (i.e. 10-15 years from now)

These overall objectives are further divided into the following technical objectives:

• Current RPAS status:
Analyze current and past work relative to civil RPAS, including existing best practices – regulatory authorities and qualified entities (certification & operations), commercial (manufacturers & RPAS operators) and non-commercial (research, scientific, governmental non-military) –, and propose a starting point for Light RPAS operations in the short term.

• Realistic business model and short term, applications:
Develop a business model for civil Light RPAS applications. Explore short-term, high value applications, and analyze their sustainability and level of impact on European industry and society.

• Social acceptance and building trust with the regulators:
Perform an in-depth analysis on how to overcome the barriers and mistrust of (Light) RPAS by the general public. Follow a step-by-step approach to build trust between the (Light) RPAS industry and the regulators.

• Foster innovation in and support SMEs access to market:
Foster the European innovation in terms of aviation automation and provide a path which facilitates access to market for European SMEs.

• Set of Recommendations:
Develop recommendations to support a sustainable civil Light RPAS market in the short-term and highlights the steps needed in order to unlock the full potential of the (Light) RPAS market in the long-term.

In order to address these objectives, the project is organized in the following work packages and deliverables:

• WP1 – Regulatory and Certification Base
o D1.1 - Identification of gaps and new/modified regulations within the existing regulatory framework
o D1.2 - Proposed set of actions to fill the gaps in the existing regulatory framework

• WP2 – Adaptation of Infrastructures
o D2.1 - State-of-the-art report of civil RPAS solutions and enabling technologies
o D2.2 - Time-phased alternative solutions for all equipment and infrastructure enablers

• WP3 – Safety and Social Acceptance
o D3.1 - Safety aspects of civil (Light) RPAS operations
o D3.2 - The social dimension of civil (Light) RPAS operations
o D3.3 - Impact of (Light) RPAS (on society)

• WP4 – Business Case and Impact on European Industry
o D4.1 - Most relevant use cases for civil (Light) RPAS in Europe in the 2013-2014 timeframe
o D4.2 - Civil (Light) RPAS applications in Europe: Deployment plan and economic sustainability of the business case
• WP5 – Conclusions and Recommendations
o D5.1 - Project Final Report
o D5.2 - Dissemination activities and material, and project website

• WP6 – Coordination

As abovementioned, one of the main objectives is to provide specific recommendations for selected “Use Cases” to be explored as “quick win” business cases. Therefore, the work developed by the different work-packages feeds into the “selected use cases” in order to provide specific recommendations for them from the different key aspects addressed in the project, and support the development of the corresponding business cases.

Project Results:

The main results from the different aspects addressed in the project (and organised in the corresponding work-packages) are summarised below.


Firstly, it must be reminded that Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) are based on aircraft (Remotely Piloted Aircraft – RPA) and, therefore, the applicable safety regulatory framework is the aviation safety regulatory framework, being aviation one of the most regulated domains of human activity. Furthermore, RPAS are a subset of the so called Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which also include non-piloted / (fully) autonomous systems where no remote pilot is required. However, as indicated in ref. R.8 the latter are not deemed to fit in the civil safety regulatory aviation framework in the foreseeable future, and then only RPAS are being considered for the time being on the civil side.

However, it is clear that not having a pilot on-board the aircraft has made RPAS to have a number of specific characteristics that are not fully covered by the current aviation safety regulatory framework, existing therefore a number of regulatory and standardization “gaps” that need to be addressed by the amendment of existing regulations and standards, and the elaboration of new ones.

These “gaps” are even wider for the light segment of RPAS, for which compliance with standard safety requirements is more challenging a new approach is required.

In Europe, the situation on the civil side is further complicated by the current Basic Regulation (EC Reg. 216/2008) which excludes (among others) unmanned aircraft with an operating mass up to 150 kg. These RPAS are referred in ULTRA as Light RPAS, and according to the Basic Regulation they remain under national remit, being the EU Member States responsible for their regulation and their civil aviation authorities for granting the corresponding certificates, licenses and authorisations. Therefore, this division of responsibilities in regulating civil RPAS has created a fragmented situation in Europe that is requiring a significant effort in harmonization across European countries in order to enable a European wide market.

As described in ULTRA D1.1 sec fortunately, a growing number of European countries have already developed some regulations for Light RPAS and others are in the way to have them. This is starting to enable and unleash the great potential for civil applications of this segment of RPAS. In fact, at the end of 2013 more than 700 operators have been approved to operate Light RPAS (in most cases, “small” RPAS, with aircraft up to 20-25 Kg) mostly in VLOS (visual line of sight) operations: at least 354 operators in France, more than 190 operators in UK, more than 120 in Sweden, about 20 operators in the Czech Rep., at least 11 in Denmark, at least 8 in Ireland, at least 1 in Italy and 1 in the Netherlands.

Once analyzed the national regulatory situation in Europe, it can be concluded that:

o Almost all regulations / policies focus on Light RPAS below 20-25 Kg operated in visual line of sight (VLOS), for which safety requirements are relatively “light” based on the rational (first elaborated in the CAA UK policy) that, from a safety perspective, these light systems operated within VLOS pose a risk similar to model aircraft (which have shown a good safety record)

o There is a fragmented situation with significant differences across European countries in terms of regulatory progress and implementation, as well as in the requirements of the regulations / policies in place. However, current national regulations / policies have in common that airworthiness certification is not required for “Small” RPAS (Light RPAS with aircraft mass ≤ 20-25 Kg) operating in VLOS (plus other limitations: daylight, away from people and infrastructures, …), and, as abovementioned for these systems under such operational restrictions, they impose relatively “light” safety requirements regarding operations, operators and related personnel. These common characteristics in regulations / policies facilitate the start of operations with Light RPAS (in particular, “small” ones) and make easier to overcome the lack of harmonization across Europe, thus facilitating the European market.

Abovementioned “small” RPAS (≤ 20-25 Kg) for operations in VLOS constitute the basis for those use cases identified as “quick wins” (see sec. 3.1). However, there is obviously a much wider range of Light RPAS, above the “small” ones (≤ 20-25 Kg), and the full operational (and therefore business) potential is for operations beyond VLOS (BVLOS), and it is precisely with these systems and operations where the real regulatory & standardization challenge lies, and for which the most significant effort in harmonization will be required in order to make possible a European (and global) market.

With regard to the main regulatory gaps, those identified in ULTRA D1.1 sec. 3 are the need for:

o harmonization in regulations and standards at European and international levels;
o civil-military harmonization (in particular to establish common safety objectives);
o globally agreed classification scheme for (Light) RPAS (which considers levels of complexity in operations, operating environment and RPAS characteristics);
o experience in terms of familiarization of authorities (and other stakeholders like ANSPs) with (Light) RPAS specificities, and safety data collection of (Light) RPAS;
o “harmonized” approach for Airworthiness (both initial and continuing) which are proportionate to the idiosyncrasy of Light RPAS (SWaP constraints and SMEs), including the requirements for Light RPAS design, production and maintenance organisations;
o “harmonized” safety objectives applicable to Light RPAS in their different categories;
o “harmonized” airworthiness codes applicable to Light RPAS;
o “harmonized” requirements for Flight Crew Licensing & Training, including requirements for Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTD) and for the Approval of Training Organizations (ATO);
o “harmonized” requirements and procedures for operations of (Light) RPAS
o “harmonized” requirements for avoidance of other air traffics, collision with terrain / obstacles, and hazardous weather;
o “harmonized” requirements for communications (C3);
o “harmonized” requirements for operators.

With regard to this harmonization effort it must be mentioned the existence in Europe of:

o The Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) (initially including a number of European CAAs but later extended to CAAs from other non-European countries) (see description in ULTRA D1.1 Annex A sec. A.2.4) which is addressing most of the abovementioned aspects, including the generation of airworthiness codes (1st final edition of CS-LURS was issued in October 2013)

o The EUROCAE WG-93 (see description in ULTRA D1.1 Annex A sec. A.2.5) an standardization group (including industry, operators and aviation authorities) devoted to Light RPAS that aims at analyzing key issues related to Light RPAS operations in the context of achieving quick wins to allow sort term applications of these systems.

Besides, it must be highlighted that the European RPAS Roadmap issued in June 2013 by the European RPAS Steering Group (ERSG) contains a number of regulatory actions for Light RPAS aiming at the harmonization in the regulation and standardization of this segment of RPAS. Since the ULTRA consortium was represented and participated in the ERSG, the recommendations provided in the framework of this project are aligned with the ERSG roadmap.

In ULTRA D1.2 a comprehensive set of actions is proposed aiming to fill the gaps in the existing regulatory framework. Here below only summary of high level recommendations and conclusions is provided:

o As stated above, harmonization of regulations and standards is key for a European and global market. However, for an effective harmonization process it is paramount that actors involved have enough experience in RPAS and their specificities. In the case of “small” RPAS (Light RPAS with aircraft mass up to 20-25 Kg) operating in VLOS, it is deemed more beneficial to have the regulatory requirements in place as soon as possible even if not harmonized with other national regulations (although following ULTRA recommendation in D1.2 may help in achieving a better position for harmonization), as an early adoption of regulations, in addition to enabling operations and therefore business, will favour a fast authorities familiarization and safety data collection that will place European countries in a better position to perform a harmonization that, on the other hand, is not expected to be as challenging as for larger (heavier) RPAS and/or operations beyond VLOS.

o Current Basic Regulation should be amended to transform EASA into the European Civil Aviation Authority extending its remit to Light RPAS (even though national CAA would retain their responsibility in safety oversight and the issuance of some certificates). With this action, it would be possible to move from “harmonization” of regulations to common EU rules. Fortunately, there are already plans for this change, as indicated in the European RPAS roadmap. In the meantime, organizations like JARUS (for regulators) and EUROCAE (for industry) are expected to play an important role in the harmonization process that must pave the way for future common EU rules.

o With regard to the abovementioned required experience, it should be focused on:
- Familiarization of aviation authorities and other relevant actors (e.g. ANSPs, ..). with RPAS specificities.
- Collection of safety-relevant data for authorities and also for insurance companies

o In order to gain experience in the shortest timeframe:
- First safe operations should be authorised as early as possible, starting with “pathfinder” projects with involvement of aviation authorities, ANSPs, ... These “pathfinder” projects can be:
>> “Pilot” projects consisting in real operations (starting with, for example, public safety-related applications – which may contribute to an increase social acceptance –, as well as some commercial applications – e.g. agricultural or infrastructure inspections, which may also contribute to a higher public acceptance –)
>> Demonstration projects, consisting in projects aiming at demonstration of concepts that are deemed enablers for the integration of RPAS into the aviation system. European funded projects of this nature (EC, EDA-ESA, SESAR JU, ...) are proving to be very important initiatives.
- Benefit should be taken from the vast military experience with all kinds of RPAS (dual use technology) in operation (including mixed environment manned-unmanned aircraft), and in regulations & standards development covering all aviation safety aspects (e.g. STANAGs on RPAS – e.g. STANAG 4703 for light fixed wing RPAS – are already being used by some CAAs as a reference).

o As highlighted before, it is important to consider an early adoption of regulation & standards that enable safe RPAS operations (even if initially significantly restricted). It is also important that the guiding principles for regulations & standards for (Light) RPAS are:
- Simplicity and clarity, so that they can be easily understood, especially considering the high percentage of SMEs involved in the Light RPAS sector, many of which are not familiar with the dense and sometimes complex aviation safety regulatory framework.
- Proportionality, that should rely upon an agreed classification scheme, which should consider different levels in complexity of operations, operating environments and RPAS characteristics. Regarding the latter, it is important to note that, although most safety requirements can be considered operations-driven, RPAS characteristics like size, weight and power (SWaP) are also significantly sensitive to the regulatory approach (e.g. airworthiness approach)
- Flexibility, in order to adapt promptly to the experience gained in a rapidly evolving industry, in which participant can be considered to be on the “learning curve”. This flexibility can be articulated in a way that, for example, detailed requirements (subject to more changes) are included in lower rank regulations / policies or accepted means of compliance (AMCs) or guidance material (GMs), whereas higher rank regulations are written in a manner that do not require frequent updates (e.g. directing to the lower rank / other regulatory material at lower level and less problematic to be updated)

o With regard to the classification scheme, the simple one currently applied in most cases is, as abovementioned, the distinction between those “small” RPAS with aircraft mass up to 20-25 Kg and operating in visual line of sight (VLOS) of the remote pilot, and those Light RPAS heavier than the “small” ones and / or operating beyond VLOS. For this short term classification, as discussed in ULTRA D1.2 a single “small” RPAS MTOM threshold between 20 and 25 Kg (the values mostly used) should be agreed, being recommended the 25 Kg as MTOM threshold, since it is more widely used in Europe and also in the US (where the term “small UAS” is used more a mass up to 55 lb) and therefore it favours harmonization.

o As it is well known, the overall objective of integrating RPAS into the Aviation System is a step-wise process:
- Integration must start from operations performed under operating conditions that make them feasible today with restrictions that can ensure a satisfactory level of safety in the absence of solutions / strategies that allow (Light) RPAS full compliance with the “Rules of the Air” (i.e. Detect & Avoid). Such operating conditions are:
>> Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) (and in short term “Extended VLOS” – E-VLOS) for “small” RPAS (≤ 25Kg)
>> Segregated Airspace for operations beyond VLOS (BVLOS, both in Very Low Level and above) for Light RPAS (“small” and above). It is clear that segregation may represent in most cases a challenge as it denies access to other airspace users, and therefore the selection of airspace volumes which can be segregated without major impact on other users will be limited (especially in some areas like TMAs, airways, ... and in general, in countries with usually congested airspace). Therefore it will be necessary to prioritize operations that are granted with airspace segregation, by selecting those deemed with higher positive impact (e.g. safety/security-related applications, and “pathfinder” projects, as above indicated), as well as the most appropriate locations (e.g. lower population density), airspace usage (in VLL rather than above) and time periods. Also, it is important that a flexible and fast system for airspace segregation management is implemented at national level (obviously, compatible with the European ATM system).
- Current and foreseeable technologies (e.g. those providing increased situational awareness, like ADS-B), procedures and strategies (e.g. use of non-segregated zones adjacent to segregated zones to be used in case of conflicts) can enable restricted access to non-segregated airspace (out of conflicting areas like TMAs, airways, ...) in the medium term. However, unrestricted access might not be feasible in the foreseeable future for Light RPAS, mainly due to SWaP limitations (e.g. impossibility to fit the required detect & avoid and CNS equipment)

o Despite the lack of experience on the civil side, from that stemming from decades of RPAS operation on the military side it can be already expected as a conclusion that likewise manned aviation (and other industries) most safety issues are caused by organizational and human factors deficiencies. This can be expected to by a larger problem in the case of organizations and individuals with poor aviation safety culture, and therefore more present in the Light RPAS sector, with particular higher safety impact in the case of Light RPAS above the small ones (≥ 25 Kg) and/or in BVLOS operations. Therefore, emphasis must be made in safety requirements on organizations (special focus on operators) and human factors (qualification and training), since they are major contributors to safety issues. Special measures are recommended to be taken to promote safety culture and proper safety management.

o With regard to airworthiness certification of Light RPAS it is important that:
- A harmonized and proportionate approach / procedure is established, as current “Part 21” is not proportionate for Light RPAS (e.g. type certification of engines and propellers, equipment qualification, organizations approval, ...). As indicated before, “harmonization” will be also key, as substantially different requirements for airworthiness certification across Europe and internationally may lead to a major showstopper for Light RPAS exports.
- “Globally” agreed safety objectives are established, which will require:
>> A political decision on the “maximum tolerable rate” for catastrophic events, that is, on the maximum order of magnitude of deaths per flight hour of (Light) RPAS that can be assumed as tolerable, considering that, unlike manned aviation, for RPAS their crash (hull loss) does not necessarily mean loss of life (in fact, some RPAS use “controlled crash” of the RPA as the “flight termination” means in case of critical emergency)
>> A decision on apportionment of the abovementioned overall target or “maximum tolerable rate” to the quantitative probability terms of failure conditions of RPAS subsystem functions. This clearly will require an intensive effort of safety-data collection (which should also include obtaining data from the military reliability database that has been fed with the thousands of hours of operation with all types of RPAS)
- Standards for specific RPAS equipment are developed, in particular for: flight control computers (“autopilots”), data link systems, remote pilot stations, detect & avoid systems (for non-segregated operations)

As indicated before, more detailed recommendations can be found in ULTRA D1.2.


Technology evolution is clearly visible in everyday life. Gains in an advanced device’s computation power accompanied by reduction in size, has a tremendous influence on Light Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (Light RPAS). Systems are no longer the domain of only leading aerospace companies. Currently, Remotely Controlled platforms, able to perform variety of automatic missions, can be bought as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Kits or as Ready-To-Fly (RTF) vehicles. Moreover, these are affordable even by small enterprises. Studies of four “quick-wins” scenarios, selected by ULTRA consortium, have shown large potential as well as some technology gaps in current solutions. To fully understand Light RPAS matters, a basic overview of all systems components is necessary.
Considering aerial platforms, a huge variety of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) exists. Among about the 1400 different RPAS types known all over the World, nearly 1000 belong to Light RPAS group (MTOM < 150 kg). In general, vehicles derive their configuration from manned aviation concepts. Examples of aerostats and aerodynes exist. Fixed-wing airplanes, single or twin rotorcraft, paraglide or kite like design as well as blimps or airships are very common. However, thanks to the mechanics and material evolution, as well as due to reduced size and power requirements, RPAs are beginning to adopt configurations unknown or abandoned by manned aviation. Examples of these are ducted fan VTOL platforms, craft generating lift with use of Magnus or Coanda effect, or even hybrid designs transforming from rotorcraft to fixed-wing when airborne. Another group of RPA has its configuration derived from nature. Abandoned in manned aviation, ornithopters are finally proving successful and useful in Remotely Piloted applications. With regard to regulatory approach, the lack of any airworthiness certification requirement for “small RPAS” (MTOM < 20/25 kg) has very positive impact on Light RPAS market, allowing for constant technology evolution and reducing systems costs; therefore, making them affordable for wide range of users and operations.

The diversity among aircraft configurations for RPAS determines similar variety in launch & recovery operations. Although conventional take-off and landing as well as Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) are common, Light Remotely Piloted Systems have also developed a whole range of unique approaches for these phases of flight. Some of the popular launch methods are:

o hand launch, when the aircraft is thrown by the operator;
o launcher take-off, when the platform is accelerated/lifted to fight condition through the use of rubber, pneumatic, electromagnetic or other type of launcher;
o take-off from moving vehicle, when aircraft (fixed-wing), detach from a vehicle (e.g. car) when it reaches specific speed.
For landing, designers proposed some new solutions as well, for example:
o parachute landing, when the plane opens a parachute and descends to the ground, usually without any control;
o net landing, when platform is caught by the net;
o hook landing, when platform is caught with a rope by the hook (e.g. placed on a wing);
o belly-landing, often connected with Deep Stall (platform is in stall but still has longitudinal control).

The great majority of Light RPAS do not require any special launch & recovery site. A limited size open area, clear of obstacles is often enough to perform required operations. This is a very important factor and provides advantage for RPAS operators and clients as in many cases aerodrome airspace access is not required and take-off and landing procedure can be performed close or on the mission site.

With regard to on-board equipment, Small RPAS (MTOM < 25 kg) mainly utilise affordable R/C components such as Electronic Speed Controllers (ESC), electric motors, reciprocating and turbine engines, flight stabilization systems, autopilots and servos. Bigger Light RPAS can use dedicated or suitable professional components, for example from automotive industry. It is important to note that flight critical systems, such as flight stabilization or autopilot technology, although relatively reliable, do not offer any kind of reliability prediction or certification, as would be required for manned aviation (e.g. DO-178B or DO-254). What is worst requiring manned-aviation level of certification would jeopardize Light RPAS use due to high costs of the equipment and certification process. Nevertheless, to assure the safety of third parties, some standards are still necessary, so as to ensure that sufficient reliability is provided. An example of such a field of concern is Electro Magnetic Interferences (EMI). This can adversely influence flight control systems and radio-link, leading to emergency situations or even a crash. On-board equipment varies in terms of functionality and maturity. A clear distinction between “Hobby Systems” and “Commercial Systems” should be defined. A positive factor is the common use of emergency procedures and flight termination systems. Moreover, many systems manufacturers have proposed very similar solutions (e.g. parachute flight termination system). A common set of basic Light RPAS design standards with regard to on-board equipment, emergency procedures and flight termination systems could have positive influence on Light RPAS development and maturity.

Another crucial element of Light RPAS is the Remote Piloted Station (RPS). In this area evolution and constant improvements are clearly visible as well. The RPS is used for control of the RPA, so that the human operator can perform operations with aerial vehicle. Depending on system automation level and capabilities, the features of RPS vary. For the purposes of VLOS operations, for which there is considerable experience from hobby activities, proven R/C Controllers are usually used. If a data transmission to the ground is required, separated additional equipment is used. An evolution of the described solution would use devices merging together functions of vehicle and its payload control. Depending on system capabilities, these can be a relatively simple devices such as a R/C Controller with LCD screen, or state-of-the-art, professional, cockpit-like, powerful computer based, workstations for a limited number of persons.

To provide connection between a RPS and an aerial vehicle, systems are equipped with a Command & Control (C2) link. Performance and band requirements of the radio-links depend on platform purpose and SWaP requirement. The majority of Light RPAS, for VLOS/EVLOS operations uses equipment working within license-free bands, such as 2.4 GHz, 35 MHz or 869 MHz. Some systems are equipped with at least two separated datalinks. In such a case, one link is used for vehicle control, while the second one provides sensor data (e.g. video stream). Datalinks used for control of the aerial platform are usually more resistant to interference and noise, providing higher range at the cost of low bandwidth. Sensor data radio links are designed to provide much higher bandwidth at the cost of durability and lower range. For backup data links, RPAS can be equipped with 2G/3G technology or a satellite communication system, such as Iridium. More advanced systems can use custom, advanced radio-links that provide both control and data channels. The World Radio Conference 2012 (WRC-12) has accepted the band of 5030-5091 MHz for RPAS use. However, the off-the-shelf components are not available yet, the first prototypes are expected in near future. Due to limited Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) capabilities, high bandwidth, satellite communication is not common in Light RPAS. Moreover, a dedicated band for satellite RPAS communication would not be defined sooner than 2015.

Developing Detect-and-Avoid systems for Light RPAS is the greatest challenge in front of the industry. DAA capabilities are required especially during Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), Radio Line of Sight (RLOS) and Beyond Radio Line of Sight (BRLOS) operations. Although, separation from other traffic may be secured by human operator (e.g. based on a dedicated video stream), on-board DAA methods are still needed in case of communication failure. RPAS traffic awareness and avoidance systems have to solve two separate problems: non-cooperative intruders and cooperative intruders. Moreover, they should be able to support the human operator and act separately when communication is lost. Each of the concerns requires different approach. Unfortunately, cooperative DAA systems available from manned aviation (e.g. TCAS) are not suitable for Light RPAS. The reasons for this are their cost and Size, Weight and Power (SWaP) requirements. The second problem is that in the aeronautical industry, developing a new, dedicated sensor can take more than 10 years and consume significant financial resources. Nevertheless, there are some promising solutions. Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) technology can fit the defined systems needs very well. Currently, market ready, miniature ADS-B In & Out transponders are available. However, certification for these is still awaited. Nevertheless, from a technology point of view, they meet users’ needs. Second enabler can be FLARM technology very popular in General Aviation. Both technologies can be supported with Traffic Information Services – Broadcast (TIS-B) and Flight Information Services – Broadcast (FIS-B), providing a more complete picture of the airspace. TIS-B information can be enhanced by incorporating data from Ground Based Situational Awareness systems (such as ATC radars, Low-Cost Mobile Radars Systems, Multi-Static Passive Radars) and other sources. FIS-B can provide meteorological and aeronautical information. With regard to time frames, Situational Awareness DAA systems will be deployed and used in the US Army early 2014. It is possible that the technology will become a standard during next few years. Multi-Static Passive Radar feasibility studies and prototype construction in UK should finish in 2014 as well. Nevertheless, if MSPR studies are a success, the technology is more likely to be introduced on a wider scale in long term.
Non-cooperative traffic detection is a much more demanding problem. Light RPAS operations are usually performed at low altitudes within “G” class airspace, where neither DAA equipment nor radio is required. In manned aviation it is a pilot’s responsibility to keep a safe distance from other traffic and follow Right-of-Way rules. During VLOS and EVLOS operations, detection of other airspace users can be performed by observers and pilots. When there is no visual contact between pilot/observer and the platform, other solutions are needed. In one approach, the RPA can transmit a video stream so that the pilot can scan for other traffic. This method however has a number of disadvantages such as low resolution, narrow field of view and will not work when communication is lost. This is why at least basic, on-board, non-cooperative DAA systems are required. Among solutions under development are: EO/IR image processing, Hear-and-Avoid system, RADAR and LIDAR based solutions.

Modern image processing based technologies seems to be promising and suitable for light RPAS. Unfortunately, EO sensors and algorithms can’t address the influence of atmospheric and environmental conditions. In the short term however, the technology seems to be the most affordable solution for Light RPAS. Hear-and-Avoid technology – although very interesting – can provide only detection of sound producing vehicles. In addition, solution is not market ready and, if successful, it can only be expected in the long term. LIDAR based DAA systems have already been introduced in some RPAS and should be available in short term. Miniature RADAR has also been announced and can be introduced into RPAS in short term. However, due to detection range, LIDAR and miniature RADAR might be suitable only for slowly moving platforms for obstacles detection. For traffic avoidance, the technology still has to improve. However, no matter how reliable the detect methods are, still a problem of automatic Collision Avoidance manoeuvre is not solved by the authorities. Such manoeuvre may be required in a situation when the radio link connection with a vehicle is lost.Manned aviation visual traffic detection is vulnerable to Light RPAS operations as well. In certain conditions, RPAS will have Right-of-Way. However, a human pilot may be unable to spot small vehicle on the collision course and in the worst case scenario a mid-air collision may occur. To prevent such situation, studies on visual detection of Light RPAS should be conducted. In addition, it may be necessary to equip platforms with special light systems or paint schemes.
Summing up, insertion of Light RPAS in to European Airspace with well developed manned aviation procedures and regulations is a very complex and challenging issue. Currently available aeronautical technologies do not necessarily make this task easier, because of their cost and SWaP requirements. It has to be emphasised that a large number of Light RPAS – especially those designed for VLOS & EVLOS operations – are already performing efficiently based on R/C COTS equipment. Any certification or airworthiness requirement applied to the RPAS market has to be carefully considered. Each additional or rigorous rule can jeopardize systems evolution and may lead to a decline in this sector of the market. However, components of the most advanced systems, produced to provide long distance operations, should be compliant with aviation standards, with respect to their SWaP and costs needs. Further R&D effort in technology domain is necessary.


For European citizens, social aspects play a role in the acceptance of RPAS in the European airspace. This chapter provides a brief summary the main aspects included in ULTRA deliverables D3.1 D3.2 and D3.3.The European RPAS Steering Group (ERSG) has been tasked to develop a comprehensive Roadmap for the introduction of RPAS in European airspace. The ERSG established three Working Groups (WGs) to conduct studies and draft the recommendations: WG1 is responsible for the certification and licensing aspects, WG2 for R&D, WG3 for Complementary Measures related to societal impacts: liability, insurance, privacy & data protection, benefits for citizens and ethics. This WG3 is of particular relevance to the contents of this section.
Unfortunately, in the last few years the world press has reported more and more examples of killing or spying actions by military “drones” which, in conflict areas, are largely used to eliminate enemies, causing as a side-effect, casualties among civilians and damage to constructions. This does not contribute to enhancement of the understanding of the potential presented by RPAS capabilities for civil missions and leaves a bad feeling about uncontrolled use of RPAS by national authorities or service providers. RPAS might infringe their freedom, their security and their privacy.
Building public awareness and familiarity with RPAS technologies will be an important aspect to gaining acceptance of civil RPAS routine operations. In order to understand the social dimensions of civil RPAS integration, it is necessary to describe the aspects playing a role. Social dimensions of RPAS cover a wide range and are concerned with safety, liability, privacy, automation and human psychology.

o Social acceptance and safety

The first question that is usually raised in the discussions on the introduction of RPAS is: “is it safe?” . ICAO states “The principal objective of the aviation regulatory framework is to achieve and maintain the highest possible and uniform level of safety”. In the case of RPAS, this means ensuring the safety of any other airspace user as well as the safety of persons and property on the ground .

According to EASA, risks to be regulated are ‘collision with people/property on the ground’ and ‘collision with other aircraft in flight’. This is in line with EUROCONTROL, which suggests accounting for 1) risks to other airspace users 2) third party risk 3) potential new risks specifically related to unmanned aircraft. The EC states “since there are no people on board the RPA, the safety objective is targeted at the protection of third parties on the ground and in the air”. The EC furthermore states that ‘RPAS must not have a negative impact to overall aviation safety objectives, must not require changes to ATM procedures and must not have an impact on the air traffic control capacity of the Air Navigation Service Providers.

A commonly accepted risk criteria framework for RPAS does not yet exist, although proposals have been made and are being discussed within different working groups. An RPAS risk criteria framework contains:
1. Definitions of risks to be regulated;
2. Definitions of appropriate metrics;
3. Risk criteria for judging the acceptability of the risks.

It is commonly accepted that risk is not a single quantity, has many different aspects, and may be quantified in many different ways. Different classes of metrics are distinguished, like economic risks, individual risks and societal risks.

As mentioned in the above, a commonly accepted risk criteria framework for RPAS does not yet exist. JAA/EUROCONTROL RPAS Task Force , NATO, and EASA provide more insight. The Joint JAA/EUROCONTROL RPAS Task Force was the first international effort by aviation authorities to establish an acceptable risk criteria framework for RPAS operations in Europe. This Task Force defined 5 levels of hazard severity:
- Severity I (“Catastrophic”): RPAS is unable to continue controlled flight and reach any predefined landing site (uncontrolled flight followed by an uncontrolled crash, with potentially fatalities or severe damage on ground.
- Severity II: Failure conditions leading to the controlled loss of the RPAS over an unpopulated emergency site, using Emergency Recovery procedures where required.
- Severity III: Failure conditions leading to significant reduction in safety margins (e.g. total communication loss with autonomous flight, landing on predefined emergency site that is unpopulated and fulfills certain requirements).
- Severity IV: Failure conditions leading to slight reduction in safety margins (e.g. loss of redundancy).
- Severity V: Failure conditions leading to no Safety Effect.

No explicit maximum allowable frequencies at which the events at the distinct hazard levels may occur are provided. However, it is stated that the quantitative safety objective for the RPAS ‘Severity conditions’ should be set, per RPAS category, based upon a rationale similar to AMC 25.1309.

Societal aspects of risk acceptability include e.g. the following:
- Voluntary versus involuntary: Voluntary risks are tended to be taken more than involuntary risks.
- Controllability versus uncontrollability: Once the risk is under personal control (e.g. travelling as a passenger), it is more acceptable than when the risk is posed or controlled by other parties.
- Type and nature of consequences: Risks due to events causing more damage and fatalities are more difficult to accept.
- Presentation in the media: Verbal and visual presentation of an adverse event in mass media has some influence on risk acceptability.
- Information availability: Informed societies can have better preparedness for natural hazards, while societies having frequent natural disasters have fresh memories about the consequences.
- Level of automation: people may be less accepting of the risks related to the use of automated systems.

Finally, a safety assessment method for the integration of RPAS must be applied. Just like the previous aspects, no consolidated method exists yet, but several methods are currently under development in which aspects are described like the performance of a safety assessment, the determination of risk mitigation measures, and the building of the safety case.

o Regulation (liability and privacy)

- Liability and insurance

One element of RPAS social dimension is a liability system and insurance. Liability for damage to persons or property that can occur as a result of an incident or accident caused by an RPA requires a number of issues to be resolved, such as identification of the applicable law(s), of the jurisdiction and of the liable party. In order to identify liability and a compensation system, the air transport sector offers an experienced path initiated with the 1929 Warsaw Convention replaced by the 1999 Montreal Convention. It should also be examined whether the 1952 Rome Convention, based on the aircraft operator’s strict liability should be applicable or the Aircraft Protocol annexed to the 2001 Cape Town Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment. The RPAS community needs a regulatory framework to determine certification and license procedures, technologies, but also a legal framework that clearly defines responsibility establishing a civil liability regime for third party damage.
Liability can be based on “fault” or not. The concept of fault varies from country to country and sometimes according to the field of law, non-contractual or contractual liability. Such variation has consequences on the way liability is invoked and proved.
The roles of the RPAS operator and pilot in command must be defined in terms that make the application of existing conventions possible. The traditional approach to this involves distributing liability between the pilot in command of the aircraft and its operator. The pilot is usually liable under criminal law, as legal systems generally impose responsibility for the observance of such obligations on the person in physical control of the aircraft. In contrast, the operator is usually liable under civil law.
Once RPAS will fly in civil airspace together with other (manned) aircraft, we have to expect that insurance premium rates will be set significantly higher than one would experience in the traditional aircraft segment. However, if the RPAS are designed in accordance with common aviation airworthiness and safety standards and procedures, the premium must be equivalent to those used in manned aviation discounting the absence of passengers on board.

- Privacy

RPAS are new systems that can collect images and other information through sensors, which can detect illegal activities but also quite normal activities in our garden. The modern world already offers a wide range of systems, which in various forms invade our private life and collect information on our desires, preferences, political ideas, religion and racial convictions. At the same time, the use of information technology by public authorities for eGovernment, public health and law enforcement has grown. There are millions of security cameras controlling access to banks or other buildings, which record our image and store it for years. Our position can be identified and registered through mobile phones or devices using satellite navigation systems like GPS. These are just a few of the domains where the higher number of potential violations of citizen’s right to privacy lay. Therefore, public authorities must strictly monitor the use of RPAS to avoid such privacy violations.
One of the most important rights of the individual under most national laws has been the inviolability of the private home against government intrusion. So far, RPAS have been employed exclusively by states, mainly for security purposes, however, RPAS technology is becoming increasingly accessible to private undertakings and even individuals. The cost of operation of an RPAS is today easily within reach of private subjects, and they can be easily (and cheaply) fitted with ordinary cameras. Such a trend is likely to have momentous consequences. Beside surveillance from the air carried out or sanctioned by public authorities, individuals must now guard themselves from intrusion by other individuals or private parties.
The EC now proposes General Regulation, which addresses several issues, largely neglected or insufficiently dealt with by the current legal framework, such as the need for special protection of health-related data, the need for clearer rules as regards data access and portability and the rules concerning data processing on grounds of public interest. The Commission's proposal tries to strike a balance between the right of individuals to protect their personal data and the need to make data available to state officials for public interest or law enforcement purposes.
The increasing use of RPAS for security and law enforcement purposes has raised serious concerns among the public and among scholars, who have expressed serious reservations about the use of what has been defined “Orwellian technology” which would allow continuous surveillance of individuals without their knowledge. Moreover, the use of RPAS raises serious enforcement concerns, due to the difficulty of tracking and controlling them.
If the main concern raised by the widespread use of RPAS is indeed the enforcement of privacy and data protection legislation, then the solution must necessarily lie in the strengthening of the institutional architecture at European and national level and not in another reform of substantive law. The existing privacy and data protection rules are in and of themselves sufficient to distinguish between lawful and unlawful use of RPAS, however without efficient overseeing authorities, sufficient resources and manpower, these rules are bound to remain unheeded.

o Automation and psychology

Automation in relation to liability has to be considered. ICAO, in its Circular 328 [ref. R.39] says: “Technologies are continuously evolving in both manned and unmanned aviation. Automation plays an ever-increasing role, particularly in transport category aircraft”. Autonomous systems represent an area where technology has both the promise of benefits and returns for business and the worry of unforeseen risks and social rejection of the technology. Driverless vehicles are an example of autonomous technologies that have already been developed, for example for underground trains. The use of remote medical robots by surgeons for operating people at distance is under development, where the equipment may be positioned in ambulances en route to a hospital or in confined spaces. In modern aircraft, part of the pilot’s workload is now performed by automated systems.
The problem is that a human operator interacting with such advanced devices will normally have little knowledge of their internal functional mechanisms, and not even the programmer who built them will be able to view their present and future behaviour as this is only determined by the execution of the computational processes which they consist of. When working with automated systems, the human operator will generally be considered liable for the operation. The discussion on liability of automated systems is more difficult; it can be argued that the human pilot remains liable, like in manned aviation or, alternatively, the operator is liable. To a further extreme, the designer or programmer of an automated system can be regarded liable in case of incidents or accidents.
- Automation and psychology
Automation is strongly related to psychological aspects of how people regard the RPAS to function and how it interacts with the environment. How strong is the influence that the human operator still has on the behaviour of the RPA and what courses of action will be decided by the aircraft itself? Psychology has everything to do with perception. Current military use of RPAS set the perception of drones to potential killing machines, giving a negative attitude about the use of RPAS. In fact, Asimov’s first law (A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.) of robotics seems to not apply any longer.
The evolution of the concept of “socio-technical systems” (STSs) has been one attempt to bring to the fore the idea that the majority, if not all, of complex systems are not simply made of hardware and software, but they also require human input and guidance, along with organisational procedures and arrangements. This general concept of “socio-technical systems” is still with us – meaning that any complex system needs to be viewed as a combination of a social and a technical system. Complex STS — especially those which we study in aviation — where the level of automation is very high, needs to take into account psychological issues very seriously: The researchers argue that, in terms of what concerns pilots, the feeling of control is of utmost importance: the more automated the aircraft becomes, the less the pilot feels being in control over it. Humans become controllers of automated systems, rather than operators. In scenarios of RPAS use, when one or several operators/controllers interact together, it would be better to describe humans and technology as forming a joint (cognitive) system. The term “joint cognitive” means that control is accomplished by an ensemble of cognitive systems and (physical and social) artefacts. In these cases, actions do not pertain only to humans or to machines, but to the joint cognitive system itself, so that human machine interaction plays a decisive role in assessing and allocating liability.

- Liability

In the current operational scenario of Air Traffic Management (ATM), liability is mainly allocated to the operators who are responsible for air traffic control and air navigation (e.g. controllers and pilots). However, this scenario will rapidly change: the SESAR (Single European Sky – ATM Research) concept of operations, in the context of the development of the Single European Sky, is defining a new high-performance air traffic management system, involving the adoption of new technologies, devices, and high automation levels, which will enable the future development of air transport. The integration of RPAS is an example of such change: it will imply the adoption of increasingly automated technologies, which may bring about drastic changes from the legal and regulatory perspective, questioning the allocation of liability to operators and enterprises.
The issue concerns the extent to which the use of new automatic tools may shift liability for accidents from operators to technology; that is from operators to organisations: technology manufacturers, system developers and other entities which are involved in building, developing, updating, and testing the particular technology. There can be little doubt that new concepts such as RPAS, that will imply the implementation of very high levels of automation, may reshape – and sometime reduce - the burden of the captain’s (pilot’s and controller’s) responsibilities.
We can expect a shift from personal liability towards general enterprise liability (liability for creating a risk through the use of the technology) and product liability. Thus, as the tools are becoming more and more automated, the liability will be more and more attributed to the organisations using such tools and those to those who build them, or are in charge of their maintenance, rather than to the operators interacting with the systems. A comprehensive theory of the ATM system including RPAS — as a Socio-Technical System — should be developed (integrating together ontological and declarative models of ATM and RPAS nature and structure, covering its technical, social and legal aspects), where the allocation of liabilities may be viewed as a governance-mechanism enabling the enhancement of the functioning of ATM.

o Application to the four ULTRA use cases (see WP4 description further below)

- Aerial photography
To categorize the operations to be conducted by RPAS for aerial photography and video assignments, the most obvious differentiation is to divide the operations into commercial and non-profit/government missions.
a) Commercial operations cover TV shoots, aerial mapping, various inspections etc. these will often be performed without any specific measures taken e.g. for airspace and safety although these are required.
b) Government operations will often cover operations during public services and special police operations.

- Wind energy monitoring
Wind farms share in common with the use of RPAS some public concerns in terms of noise and safety. At the same time, they are often placed in remote locations, making RPAS an excellent technology to use for their routine visual inspections.

- Disaster management and firefighting assistance
Little doubt can be raised over the fact that the benefits to civilians are quite significant, when RPAS use gives emergency services an improved chance of providing essential and life-saving assistance to emergencies. Whether it is saving property or lives or detecting a source of potential pollution, the use of RPAS will be great to civilians. Furthermore, RPAS use will offer a reduced risk to the emergency responders. Being able to better detect and plan the effort will be a great achievement in this sense. The sensors used for such an application will offer the most advantages if they are thermal, so they can search for people as well as monitor sources of fires for rapid extinguishing.

- Pipeline and power line inspection
The Benefits for citizens will be improved reliability of electricity and other energy sources. Currently inspections are made from vehicles or from manned helicopters. These operations are both expensive and difficult to conduct as pipelines and power lines are often found in rural areas that are difficult to access. Making inspections more easily accessible will lower expenditure for infrastructure companies that in effect should lead to lower consumer prices for utilities. Lower consumer prices should be considered a benefit for all citizens.

o Recommendations

The following recommendations emerge from the above discussion on social aspects of the integration of RPAS in the air transport system:

- A commonly agreed risk criteria framework for RPAS operations should be established and implemented preferably jointly by a group that includes EASA, FAA and/or JARUS.
- A safety assessment method should be set up and used that is acceptable for the authorities and may be tailored to and applied for proposed RPAS operation(s). Examples of such methods already exist, like FAST, CATS, ASCOS.
- Investigate and influence people’s attitude towards RPAS. In this respect, psychological aspects of the attitude of the public towards RPAS must be analysed.
- Investigate liability issues to find out where it is possible to adopt existing rules for manned aviation or where new rules, tailored for RPAS need to be defined. Penalising RPAS operations must be avoided.
- Responsibilities and liabilities must be defined, taking into account the introduction of automation and a possible scenario for responsibilities.
- Establish a complete regulatory framework including certification, licensing and third party liability for damage caused by RPAS, where the applicability of international conventions must be evaluated. It is proposed to define the operator as the liable party.
- Adopt a balanced approach between the right to privacy and the use of RPAS, especially for light RPAS. EC recommendations should be issued and the revision of EU legislation must be controlled. A code of conduct for pilots and operations must be designed.
- To further gain acceptance, a dialogue with the major stakeholders must be set up: EU Organisations (LIBE, EASA, SESAR, Eurocontrol, Frontex) – CAAs – DPAs – JARUS – Light RPAS community - Civil liberties associations (EGE, NGO Statewatch, etc.) . Consumers associations – Research Centres – Academia.
Finally, to gain experience and confidence, preliminary RPAS operations can be authorized for scenarios that do not create any hazard to other airspace users and populations (e.g. VLOS over identified zones. It will always be necessary (before authorizationcan be given) to show, through a safety study, that indeed it is the case.
For the promotion of the use of RPAS for the general public, it is important to recognise and apply the following three phases:
1. Make the use of RPAS visible to the general public.
2. Stimulate positive opinions by convincing arguments.
3. Provide readily available information on RPAS use/application.
Furthermore, the following activities are proposed:
- The creation of a dedicated website is suggested, where it will be possible to collect public opinion on RPAS to assess the degree of knowledge of their characteristics and possible use.
- Set up a stakeholders questionnaire to achieve a clear understanding of the threats and benefits of the use of RPAS for the applications to be used in the promotion.
- At the occasion of workshops a public debate should be foreseen involving umbrella organisations to foster awareness in the general public and to create familiarity with the RPAS technology and their operation.
- For privacy and data protection, operators could be invited to fill an online questionnaire. This could also be facilitated through the previously mentioned website.
The promotion activities can be performed using different channels of communication. The main means / channels of communication seen as helpful for the promotion to the general public are:
- Website
- E-mail News Letters
- Social media
- News Media coverage
- Demonstrations
- Documentaries

For the large community and civil acceptance of RPAS, it is proposed to use existing acronyms where appropriate to avoid confusion in terms like automation and, to counter the military image while using the term that is adopted by the media, we can use the term “civil drone” to indicate civil use RPAS operations.


Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), should not be seen or recognized as a “competition” to manned aircrafts. In fact, RPAS must be seen as a complimentary technology to manned aviation. The number of uses cases where RPAS may show benefits as an alternative or complementary to the use of manned aviation is extensive and growing fast.

Some examples where RPAS will allow VLOS/BVLOS “Aerial Work” not possible with manned helicopter aircrafts include:
- Low height (5-100 m) aerial photography, inspections and other aerial works
- Movie shooting in urban environments
- Low height wildlife observation where low noise signatures are required
- Operations in Durt Dully and Dangerous envirnoments
- Rain and snow fall situations
- “Zero” visibility situation such at night and fog
- Real-time on-demand short bird views for assessments, situational awareness
- Law enforcement operations where low noise signatures are required
- Cost constrained operations where manned helicopters cost are not practicable

Following the EC directive to concentrate on a pragmatic approach based on specific viable business cases, as previously indicated, ULTRA focused on a reduced number of selected viable business cases, among the most promising ones in the short term (“quick wins”) for the use of light RPAS (< 150 Kg). The work of WP4 of ULTRA was split into two major steps. The work is covered in detail in two documents, which should be referred to for further detail:
- D4.1 – Most relevant user cases for civil UAS in the European Airspace in the 2013-2014 timeframe
- D4.2 – Civil UAS applications in Europe: Deployment plan and Economic sustainability of the business case

The first step was to identify a limited number of most promising civil use cases of Light RPAS and describe these use cases. This allowed the work in the other aspects of ULTRA to be focused on those use cases.

Using a range of information sources an extended list of potential civil Light RPAS was constructed. Information sources included but were not limited to:
- Operations with Light RPAS already taking place
- Use cases from previous FP6 and ongoing FP7 work
- Industry activities
- Pre-existing aviation operations
- RPAS data bases
The list produced included approaching 50 distinct use cases of which over half were existing VLOS RPAS uses. Table 1 of D4.1 provides the full listing.
To allow selection of the most promising use cases a procedure for ranking them was developed. This involved first defining a series of eight criteria along with a relevance weighting for being ‘quick win’ uses for civil Light RPAS. These promising use cases werebased on relevant criteria & ranking, including: short-term applications, existing technology, minimal changes to legal framework and viable business case.
Next a qualitative level of compliance scale for each of the criteria was defined. Each of the use cases was then considered for its level of compliance with each of the eight criteria. By multiplying the compliance score by the relevance weight and summing the results a total score for each use case was produced. Although open to some subjective judgment this method of ranking use cases was considered adequate for the purposes of ULTRA. Section 2.3 and 2.4 of D4.1 provide the criteria and compliance scale for each of these. In section 2.5 of D4.1 the detailed scores for 10 use cases are provided.
Based on the above ranking methodology the following RPAS use cases were selected as part of the ULTRA study to be the most relevant and realistic operations. The uses cases are described at a high level and later analyzed from a business case and economic viability perspective.
ULTRA selected four potential use cases for consideration, as follows:

o Aerial Photography & Video
RPAS provide opportunity to provide photos and video from altitudes and locations not possible from manned aircraft or ground based platforms. Already in use with photographic equipment cost dominating that of platform. Operations can be VLOS, low altitude and limited duration. Use of both small (<15 kg) electric multi-rotors allows operations where noise is an issue and slightly larger (< 25 kg) gasoline powered rotorcraft can provide increased duration.
Specific business case benefits for this use case include:
- Saving money. Less labour intensive and working area can remain open.
- Saving time. No need for ground survey and initial results accessible on site.
- Accurate. Collect survey data down to 2.5cm ground resolution.
- High performance. Operate in light rain and winds up to 60 km/h.
- Efficient. All the processes and deliverables are managed.
- Sustainable. Flight parameters and ground cross-sections are recorded for re-use.
- Safe. No need to access dangerous working areas e.g. mines, quarries.
- Beat the weather. Operations conducted on site and below the weather.

o Wind Energy Monitoring
The large growth in wind energy in Europe and globally results in a need for inspection of many wind turbines. Often located in isolated and/or off shore, wind farms provide a manned aviation free environment with no over-flown population. Inspection operations with RPAS can be both VLOS and BVLOS with small (< 8 kg) electric multi-rotors or larger (<25 kg) gasoline powered rotorcraft offering flight durations up to a few hours. This avoids need for inspectors to physically reach and ascend each turbine.
Specific business case benefits include:
- Saving money. Less labour intensive and reduces the amount of turbine down time.
- Saving time. Live HD video feed allows engineers to make fact based decisions.
- Efficient. Turnkey solution where the process and deliverables are managed.
- High performance. Operate in light rain and winds up to 50km/h.
- Safe. No need to access dangerous working areas.
- Beat the weather. Operations conducted on site and below the weather.

o Disaster Management & Fire Fighting Assistance
RPAS bring a number of benefits to situation assessment following natural and man-made disasters and fire-fighting operations. They can operate in VLOS and where manned aircraft cannot without the risk to rescue workings/fire fighters or creating disturbance that could be dangerous. RPAS types can again be small (< 8 kg) electric multi-rotors or larger (<25 kg) gasoline powered rotorcraft offering flight durations up to a few hours.

o Pipeline & Power Line Inspection
The cost of failure of (or intentional damage to) pipelines and power lines can be very large and with the former have large potential for environmental damage. Inspecting/protecting hundreds of km of line by other means is difficult and expensive. RPAS offer a cost effective option with operations often over unpopulated areas. Unlike the previous uses, this is likely to require BVLOS operations to provide most effective approach and use multi engine fixed-wing RPAS possibly up to 150 kg.
Further consideration and detail for these use cases can be found in section 3 of D4.1.
As a validation of the selection process, further market research was performed including through consideration of the use cases covered by presentations at the RPAS Civ Ops Conference in December 2012.

>> Business Case Considerations
The development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) offers a wide range of new civil applications for the benefit of European citizens and businesses. Being remotely piloted, RPAS can perform tasks that manned systems cannot perform or can perform but in a less cost-efficient and/or less safe manner.
The main RPAS civil use cases and topics being currently looked at by the European community and where there may be a potential business case in the short term include:

- Monitoring & Inspection (Wind turbine, Pipe Line, Oil & Gas & Energy industry)
- Disaster Management, Search and rescue (Fire fighting)
- Aerial Photography (Cinema industry, archeology, nature reserve monitoring, Real estate, advertising…)

Today most of the RPAS operations are done without any regulation and rules in place. Aerial work companies’ requests to put RPAS on the same equivalent level as manned aircrafts are. An important part to make this happen is to show the potential business case and economic viability for RPAS usage.
For small RPAS perhaps the most critical item on the certification path is the data link. The immediate question arises as to what will happen if the data link goes down? So the certification shall take into consideration the reliability of the flight termination system (parachute, etc) and fail safe mechanism (auto land immediately, come home, alternate landing, etc). It must be noted that data links and autopilots can experience anomalies and show vulnerability in which case certifying only the data link is not enough and doesn’t give any safety to the ground people or other airspace users. For cost reasons, it will be hard to implement a DO-178B on small RPAS, so the operator must show evidence on the safety of his systems in case of data link failure.
There are a number of economic benefits to the use of RPAS operations versus manned operations which typically include:
- Lower costs of platform equipment: RPAS for VLOS operations will have an excellent cost/performance ratio and become interesting for SME´s. (No Detect & Avoid equipage)
- Safety for user in case of dangerous and dirty mission: Use cases that do not require to overfly population can be performed with simple RPAs having no stringent fail safe characteristics. Preliminary RPAS operations can be authorized for scenarios that do not create any hazard to other airspace users and populations (e.g. VLOS over identified zones).These RPAs will have a limited cost with associated operations restrictions;
- High performance, under bad weather and night conditions: RPAS are well suited for long duration monitoring tasks or risky flights / Accessibility
- High efficiency, in terms of time endurance missions

In addition, and as part of the business case, the impact of RPAS on European Industry should be considered. This may include the development of proprietary technology to become competitive in the world marketplace and the possibility to establish RPAS standards for all over the world protecting in such a way the European Industry.

Potential Impact:

Since its conception the ULTRA project had as a main driver to contribute to:

• Improve the knowledge on RPAS and, in particular, on Light RPAS (operating mass < 150 Kg), by analyzing key aspects of these newcomer systems of civil aviation.

• Facilitate the decision making and roadmap elaboration for the Light RPAS integration into the aviation system by providing:

o a comprehensive set of recommendations for the incremental insertion of civil Light RPAS (RPA with operating mass up to 150 Kg) in the European airspace in the short-term (i.e. within 5 years from 2012)
o specific recommendations for selected “Use Cases” to be explored as “quick win” business cases.
o An indication of what needs to be done in order to unlock the full potential of the civil Light RPAS market in the long-term (i.e. 10-15 years from 2012).

In order to properly undertake the project work and, at the same time, to perform contributions while developing this work, a number of project external interfaces were established:

• The most relevant interface for ULTRA has been with the European RPAS Steering Group (ERSG) for the preparation of the European RPAS Roadmap. ULTRA participated in the 3 WGs: WG1 (Regulation), WG2 (R&D) and WG3 (Complementary Measures). Also, ULTRA was tasked with actions in the ERSG Roadmap, which were accomplished.

• Other interfaces were established through ULTRA members participation in:

o EUROCAE WG93 (Light RPAS) and WG73 (RPAS). Most ULTRA members participate in one or both WGs.
o National Authorities. Several ULTRA members in direct contact with their national authority, and some of them actively participating in the regulatory activities for RPAS being undertaking at national level.
o National & European RPAS Associations / Community.
o European (EC, EDA, ESA, SJU, …) & national RPAS R&D Projects

In addition to abovementioned interaction with the ERSG, authorities and groups, the ULTRA consortium has undertaken a number of activities to disseminate the work developed in the project, mainly:
• Production of a project website where the project is explained and all public deliverables are available for download
• Presentation at a number of events (see sec. 4.2 “Use and dissemination of foreground”)
• Publication of an article at the “RPAS. The Global Perspective. 2013/14”. A larger article was prepared and expected to be published on the 2014/15 edition.
• One of the deliverables (D5.2) contains a number of output material (executive summary, presentations) that can be used for further dissemination activities beyond the project duration.

List of Websites:

Public website address:
Contact details:
- For project related matters: Daniel Cobo-Vuilleumier (
- For website issues: Peter van Blyenburgh (