July 20, 2018
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EVLOS in Australia

On 5 April 2019 CASA made the Part 101 (Unmanned Aircraft and Rockets) Manual of Standards 2019 (MOS) which contained in chapter 5 the requirements for RPA operations Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS). Class 1 operations no longer require the dreaded IREX (Instrument Rating Exam). For operations using class 2 EVLOS, an IREX is required. First, let’s understand what CASA means by EVLOS.

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. However, this could now be the most complex operation your organisation has ever undertaken with the need for all crewmembers to be highly trained and proficient in their duties. Communication between crewmembers will be performed over a radio or telephone system so it is easier for miscommunication. Although crewmember’s situational awareness can be aided by shared displays showing the RPA location, these can be subject to network outages and delays so their accuracy needs to be constantly confirmed by good crew coordination. RPA faults and failures may now occur at much greater distances from the pilot so the time available to solve these issues may be significantly reduced. A well thought out and planned Class 2 EVLOS operation can provide efficiencies and significantly reduce the time taken to complete a task but does carry more risks to mitigate than VLOS operations. EVLOS does not allow the RPA to be flown in cloud or in visibility below 5000m but it will also not require expensive detect and avoid systems. The pilot is still responsible for ensuring that the RPA is not flown within 30 meters of non-consenting people or over populous areas. Most ReOC holders could start conducting Class 1 EVLOS operations for minimal outlay which may significantly increase the area they could cover which for operations such as shark surveillance would be a significant gain.

If EVLOS operations might be applicable to your operation, what does MOS101 require ReOC holders to provide to get an approval? Firstly, don’t just copy the MOS 101 chapter 5 into your manuals and think this will satisfy CASA. Read MOS 101 chapter 5 and the explanatory statements, search the CASA website or contact CASA for the latest information /advice on what they require from an EVLOS application. JARUS have also released a standard scenario for BVLOS operations in uncontrolled airspace which is well worth reading if you intend to do Class 2 EVLOS operations. MOS 101 directs you to develop practices and procedures for EVLOS operations so decide on your concept of operations (CONOPS), some essential questions are:

  • class 1 and 2 or just class 1?
  • If you are going to do class 2 are you going to apply any limits to the number of visual observers?
  • Which RPAs can be used?
  • What type of tasks will you use EVLOS for?

Visual Observer EVLOS

Once you have developed a CONOPS work through each section of the MOS developing detailed procedures and training requirements; you may feel like you are spending a lot of time here but it will all pay off when the unforeseen happens during an EVLOS operation. Once you have developed your procedures go and try them out under VLOS conditions, at a quiet location to see that they all work as envisaged. Once everything is documented you can submit your manuals to CASA. CASA may require you to demonstrate your EVLOS procedures, particularly, if you are requesting approval for Class 2 operations so you need to be prepared for this.

EVLOS the process for obtaining a C.A.S.A approval

Should your organisation need any assistance in deciphering these regulations or indeed help in preparing or obtaining these approvals please do not hesitate in gaining contact with Hover UAV to allow the maximum potential of your RPAS program to be unleashed. Our dedicated team of consultants have a wealth of knowledge in complex RPAS operations.

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