You may read or hear about operators claiming they operate in Congested Areas.  They don’t – or at least they shouldn’t.  They will still have to maintain a distance from a Congested Area: just, in some cases, the CAA may give them dispensation to operate at a shorter distance.

To get this dispensation you need to submit an Operating Safety Case (OSC).

More often than not, operators only get to raise a proper Operating Safety Case when they approach the CAA for a dispensation in the distance they have to maintain from Congested Areas.  For a drones above 7kg this distance is meant to be 150 metres: for a sub 7 kg drones the distance is 50 metres.

When looking at Congested Areas, operators should remember these are areas where they have no control.  People and vehicles in particular are moving freely, i.e. they are not predictable movements and they are nothing to do with the drone operation.  For a good drone operator, the pilot-in-command must have control of the operational area overwhich he or she is flying the drone.  By having control, the area can be deemed it is, in effect, not congested.

A number of registered operators have been back to the CAA to ask for dispensation to reduce the distance from Congested Areas by submitting an Unmanned Aircraft System Operating Safety Case (UASOSC) without success. In part this is because there are no established principles that the CAA uses in its assessment of the UASOSC application.

There are 4 main area for you to consider in creating an OSC:

  • The extent of the request you’re making of the CAA
  • The capabilities of your equipment to operate more safely
  • The process by which you operate with more safety
  • Your competency as a pilot or that of your team

Operators going down this route need to have a detailed understanding of the technical specification of the drone, its predicted failure modes, the override procedures and the critical failure points in the system.  drones that have been accepted by the CAA have some level of redundancy, for example secondary flight controllers, secondary battery systems and ballistic parachutes.

DronePartners has the knowledge and background in safe and risk-mitigated operations adjacent to Congested Areas.  Talk to us before you start going down the UASOSC route.  You might save yourself a lot of time and money.