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Activity title

Risk-Based Safety Assessment of Operational Airworthiness and Certification Requirements for RPASs

Activity Reference



Applied Vehicle Technology

Security Classification



Awaiting Publication

Activity type


Start date


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Airworthiness, Certification, Interoperability, NATO Compliance, Operations, Requirements, Risk-assessment, RPAS, Safety


In many countries, military RPASs fly in national airspace only after obtaining special permits or approvals issued by the provider of air navigation services or by the competent authority. Only some civil and military authorities have issued airworthiness certificate for the use of unmanned aircraft. Moreover military RPASs must have special permission to operate in foreign countries. Currently there is no common procedure among NATO countries for approval of RPAS operations. Therefore there is an opportunity to create a common risk-based approach for the use of military RPAS. Existing NATO STANAGs, other applicable national rules and regulations must be accounted for. This should also encourage the co-operation among countries and the possibility for RPASs to operate in foreign territory. This shortcoming was identified as part of the work of AVT-ET-147. Moving towards a best-practice approach for approving RPAS Ops would therefore be a highly relevant contribution in line with the objectives defined primarily in the Target of Emphasis P&M-2 (Unmanned Platforms) and also in P&M-1 (Fast and Agile Platforms) in the Science and Technology Area “Platforms and Materials” as defined as one of the NATO Science and Technology Priorities.


It is the objective of the proposed RTG to develop a best-practice approach for approving RPAS operations using a risk- based analysis. It will not be limited to technical airworthiness but will also account for operational, environmental and other aspects that impact the safety of the operational domain. Safety is defined with respect to the potential of the system to cause the following consequences : • Mid-air collision with manned aircraft. • Harm to people. • Damage to property in particular critical and sensitive infrastructure. Meeting the objectives as defined above would be a valuable contribution to the NATO Science and Technology Priority “Platforms and Materials”, more specific to the Targets of Emphasis P&M-2 (Unmanned Platforms) and also in P&M-1 (Fast and Agile Platforms).


Topics will include: - Regulation: identification of the gap between NATO and national operational regulations. - Operational domain: identification of operational landscape. - Risk based analysis: applicable safety assessment methodology. - Procedures: identification and use of procedures (best practise) to mitigate operational risk. - Technologies: potential use of certifiable safety devices or specific functions to mitigate operation risk (i.e. flight termination system). - Programmes: analysis of the activities of national/international programmes on RPASs regulation.

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