There is an increased operational risk when flying over crowds of people, above an altitude of 120 metres or beyond visual range. A standardised risk assessment according to SORA may be necessary to evaluate the safety of the operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.
SORA (Specific Operational Risk Assessment) is a Europe-wide procedure for analysing the risks associated with the use of unmanned aircraft systems. The first version of the international SORA was published in August 2017. The responsible national aviation authority decides on your application based on this legal text.
The SORA is used as a multi-stage risk assessment process and is intended to improve safety through the use of drones. It is required if the general ruling or a standard scenario is no longer sufficient.
How is a SORA structured?
Firstly, a preliminary assessment is carried out to decide whether a SORA is necessary. In the second and third steps, the Ground Risk Class (GRC) and Air Risk Class (ARC) are determined. Measures to reduce the impact and probability of damage are also taken into account here .
How is the risk class determined?
The GRC quantifies the risk of damage to uninvolved persons. The uncorrected value results from the sum of three risk components:
- Take-off mass
- Risk area and/or concentration of people
- Line of sight
The sum is reduced by measures to reduce the impact of damage (e.g. encapsulated rotors, parachute) and the probability of damage (e.g. barriers, obstacle detection, deliberate use of maximum ranges).
The ARC is used to estimate the collision risk with a manned aircraft. Relevant for this value are
- IFR air traffic
- VFR air traffic
- Airfields in the vicinity
- Flight altitude
In this category too, passive and active measures can reduce the impact of damage (e.g. simple fragility, airbag) and the probability of damage (e.g. electronic visibility, obstacle avoidance) caused by an out-of-control aircraft.
The higher value of the two classes is the basis for the development of the operating concept (ConOps), in which corresponding self-declarations or evidence must be listed.
After a final review by the state aviation authority, the licence is issued with or without additional requirements. If the operation is not eligible for authorisation, you will receive a corresponding notification.
If the number of flights for a particular scenario increases, e.g. a flight beyond visual range at a particular location, the authority can draw up a standard scenario and the time-consuming risk assessment (SORA) becomes obsolete. This reduces the workload, but does not replace the application.
More options with the new EU drone regulation
Since January 2021, the new EU Drone Regulation has introduced new categories for categorising operational risk. Standard scenarios and SORA cover operations in the Specified category. The Certified category will be introduced for complex applications. This is the case for the transport of dangerous goods, for example. Many new applications and possibilities arise that were previously not clearly categorised by law.
It is also possible to apply for a LUC certification (Light UAS operator certificate) in order to obtain a permanent operating licence for a specific drone application. This is similar to ISO 9001 standardisation and can replace the need for individual approvals and recurring SORA reports.
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Airclip has many years of experience in applying for ascent licences and will be happy to support you with your project. Contact us by e-mail without obligation!