April 29, 2021
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Changes to the IREX Requirement for BVLOS Operations

Changes to the IREX requirement for BVLOS operations exemption instrument

CASA EX67/20 — Remotely Piloted Aircraft Operations Beyond Visual Line of Sight Instrument 2020 enables unqualified BVLOS operators of RPAs to continue to operate BVLOS with one qualified pilot to supervise one or more pilots who are not yet qualified in respect of BVLOS operations, subject to certain conditions. The current exemption expires 30th April 2021.

 The instrument that replaces this exemption (EX 46/21) will continue to allow BVLOS operations under supervision but will no longer require EVLOS Class 1 operations to be supervised by BVLOS qualified pilots (that is remote pilots holding an IREX).

Beyond Visual Line of Sight Qualifications

 Under CASA’s regulations (CASR 101.073 (3)) RPAs must be operated within the visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft. This means that the remote pilot must be able to continually see, orient and navigate the aircraft to meet both collision avoidance responsibilities and the required separation standard.  This can be achieved with vision correction lenses, but without the use of binoculars, a telescope or other similar devices.

In order to operate beyond visual line of sight the pilot must have passed one of the following examinations (CASR 101.300 (4) (a)):

(a)        an aeronautical knowledge examination (within the meaning of Part 61 of CASR) for the grant of an instrument rating under Part 61 of CASR;

(b)        an aviation licence theory examination before 1 September 2014 that is taken to be an equivalent examination;

(c)        an examination approved by CASA.

What is EVLOS Class 1?

 EVLOS is where the RPA is flown beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight but at least one visual observer is VLOS with the RPA or knows the exact location of the RPA. Essentially, the observer must be able to clear the air and ground environment around the RPA so careful selection of the observer’s location is critical in the planning of any EVLOS operation. Unlike VLOS requirements (CASR101.073(3)) the observer can use devices such as binoculars to observe the operating area but must not use these devices as the primary means of keeping the surrounding airspace and ground insight.

 CASA has divided EVLOS operations into 2 classes:

 Class 1 is where the pilot and visual observer are at the same location. This allows the pilot to use a first-person view (FPV) system to more accurately fly the RPA while a visual observer clears the operating air and ground environments. An FPV system reduces the visual cues and restricts the user’s peripheral vision so for these reasons they cannot be used by the observer or in place of an observer. As the pilot and visual observer are standing next to one another the increase in planning and operating workload should be easily manageable. Communication between the operating crew is not reliant on any communication system as it must be verbal, and they can both view a common display so knowing the exact location of the RPA is uncomplicated. In the event of a fault with the RPA, it should be possible to quickly bring the RPA back into VLOS operations. Hence class 1 is a great introduction into EVLOS operations and will significantly extend the range of operations depending on the operating location characteristics. Class 1 operations would not be suitable where the observer’s view of the ground environment is blocked by buildings, trees or other features.

 Class 2 is where the pilot and visual observer are in different locations. This allows the RPA to be flown at much greater distances from the pilot as multiple observers can be used and for a highly proficient crew, the RPA could even be landed at a location a significant distance from the pilot. It also allows greater flexibility over the observer location so making it easier to position the observer where their view is not obstructed by buildings, trees, etc.

 Class 2 operations will still require pilots or supervising pilots to hold an IREX.

The replacement exemption still allows BVLOS operations to be conducted under a qualified supervising pilot (for example holds an IREX).  This means that not every pilot is required to hold a BVLOS qualification.

To view the new exemption instrument in the Federal Register click here.

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