The AW-Drones project started in 2018 to contribute to the harmonisation of the EU drone regulations and standards. To this end, the project began collecting drone technical standards, rules and procedures already developed worldwide; then, it assessed their compliance to EU regulatory requirements. In particular, AW-Drones focused on assessing the coverage of EASA’s SORA, U-space and the Special Condition Light-UAS regulatory requirements and airworthiness design.
For each requirement, AW-Drones aimed to identify a set of potentially applicable standards using a twofold approach. On one hand, the project performed a top-down collection and assessment, adopting a Multi Criteria Analysis methodology; this facilitates comparing and ranking different options (especially when involving conflicting objectives), and evaluating their effects on multiple aspects; for example, how a proposed new regulation affects safety, cost, the environment, and society. With this powerful tool, the project assessed each standard against a number of parameters to determine its suitability as a Means of Compliance. In addition, frequent bottom-up consultations with key stakeholders and end-users ensured adequacy of the standards selected.
Three years later, AW-Drones has assessed more than 600 standards against requirements from SORA, U-space and SC-Light UAS. Therefore, the project was able to propose a validated set of rules, technical standards and procedures for drone operations to comply with EU regulation. In the words of Natale di Rubbo, Drone Regulation Officer at EASA and speaker at our final public event:
“EASA is the main customer of AW-Drones activity. We started with a jungle of standards; but thanks to this project, we now have a better idea how to link standards to our rule-making activity”.
Throughout the project, AW-Drones presented EASA with yearly official project reports. Now, the project will deliver a final report synthesizing its results, complete with a detailed assessment of all standards supporting each requirement. The “AW-Drones proposed standards” are accessible to everybody as project deliverables.
The Drone Standards Information Portal
In addition, AW-Drones is currently finalizing its Drone Standards Information Portal. This free to use, online repository will make available the results of all this work to everybody. Not only will it provide a single point of access to relevant information about rules, procedures, and technical standards for mass-market drones worldwide, such as standards’ maturity level, coverage of regulation, and identified gaps; it will also include technical standards for each category of drone operations.
The latest version is due at the end of December 2021; it features a more intuitive graphical interface that makes it easier to use. The Portal will support all the actors in the growing drone industry; in particular, it will effectively aid UAS operators by identifying all the standards applicable to every requirement.
The Drone Standards Information Portal will stay online for at least two years after the project ends. The AW-Drones Consortium is currently developing a plan to make it sustainable for even longer.
Surveys on the operator’s perspective of drones
Finally, in the last two years, AW-Drones carried out two surveys exploring the drone operator’s perspective of SORA and U-space. Put together with the assistance of experts with complementary expertise from various countries, the surveys collected insight from the whole UAS community. They examined the current and near-future situation for multiple market sectors in the European UAS industry, flight mission purposes, and risk analysis methods.
The results of the surveys highlight knowledge gaps and lack of information among drone users, even when responses show significant knowledge and understanding of the drone sector and aviation in general. Many respondents asked for further clarification of rules and guidelines, indicating that the information available is currently insufficient.
Have a look at our resources
Browse our resources page and have a look at our publicity materials; check out the presentations from our previous workshops and the events we took part into; and read our public deliverables, describing our methodology, the state-of-the-art of mass-market drones standards, and the AW-Drones proposed standards.