ICAO plans UAV framework for flying UAVs in international airspace

MONTREAL, Canada, 28 Aug. 2012. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is continuing to develop its long awaited regulatory framework for integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Aug 28th, 2012

MONTREAL, Canada, 28 Aug. 2012. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is continuing to develop its long awaited regulatory framework for integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The first package of standards for what the ICAO calls remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) will become applicable on Nov. 15. The objective of the regulations is to enable a remote operator located in, and licensed by, one country to fly a UAV in airspace controlled by another country.

The initial set of standards defines an RPAS as "a remotely piloted aircraft plus one or more remote piloting stations, flown by remote pilots who work for an RPAS operator." The RPAS will need to have a certificate of airworthiness that goes to the aircraft, not the system, but which only goes to the aircraft if it is evaluated as a system. The RPAS operator must also be certificated — akin to an air operator certificate — and the remote pilot has to be licensed."

ICAO is working on an RPAS guidance manual to be published in early 2014, in advance of the related standards. This will cover requirements for certificates of airworthiness, RPAS approval, operator certification, and new lines of distinction between airworthiness, maintenance and operations.

In 2016-18, ICAO plans to issue SARPs (standards and recommended practices) and PANs (procedures for air navigation) for aircraft, operators, licensing, sense-and-avoid, communications, and basic air traffic management (ATM) procedures for RPAS. In 2020 through 2023, the SARPs will be refined to add aerodrome requirements and expanded ATM procedures. The ICAO plans that all requirements for operating RPAS in all classes of airspace and aerodomes will be in place by 2028.

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