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UAS Safety Risk Portfolio and Analysis

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The key risk areas have been identified by EASA through the analysis of the reported occurrences in the ECCAIRS database involving UAS operation.

Airborne Conflict

Airborne conflict in the context of UAS covers specifically the risk of airborne collision between a drone and an aircraft in the air. Accounting for MAC/ Airprox and Navigation occurrences as well as a link to ATM/ ANS. Further analysis of this Key Risk Area will be covered later in Chapter 10.

Aircraft Upset

From the occurrence category analysis the 2nd Key Risk identified was Aircraft Upset, which covers the full range of Loss of Control situations. Whilst drone upsets (Loss of Control) are different to those involved other aircraft because there is no risk to persons on board the aircraft, there is a potential for injuries to people on the ground depending on the planning of the flight and the reversion modes of the drone following a technical failure. Loss of control is particularly relevant for UAS as they are likely to operate in closer proximity to the ground than other types of aviation.

System Failures

Both System/ Component Failure Powerplant and Non-Powerplant feature in the outcome types and therefore would be included in the Key Risk Areas. For the purpose of the Safety Risk Portfolio this would be split into two areas. Firstly Engine Failure, which covers failure of the UAS propulsion system and secondly Other System Failures which includes both electrical and control systems as well as software and data link failures.

Third Party Conflict

The final Key Risk Area covers the risk of UAS conflicts (collisions) with people or property (i.e. not involving aircraft) where they may cause injuries or damage. There were no occurrences involving such damage or injuries but scenario based risk assessment has identified as a potential outcome that should be included as a key risk area for UAS operations. It is known that accidents involving UAS colliding with people on ground do happen, indeed such an event happened in the USA involving an UAS being used for media filming. However, none have been formally reported within the EASA MS. As the UAS industry is relatively new it could be possible that injuries due to drones are simply not reported on aviation level, but only in hospitals where the injuries are treated or at local law enforcement level