Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) – Identifying Gaps for National Operator Standards in Canada

The RPAS sector is still in its infancy. This is a critical time for the development of national operational standards.

National and international standards for remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) are becoming more commonplace, driven by a mandate to reduce risks inherently associated with increasingly complex RPAS operations. The purpose of this report is to review existing RPAS standards, conduct a study of any related gaps and make recommendations on the development of new standards.

RPAS standards are intended to serve as a foundation for regulations to identify risks, increase safety, drive commercial and enterprise innovation, and ensure a minimum level of quality for materials, processes, operating procedures, and human factors. With the RPAS sector still in a relatively early stage of development, this is a critical time for the analysis and development of national operational standards.

Although RPAS-related standards date back to 1944, very few countries have standards-based regulations. Most existing standards are specific to the manufacturer, the RPAS operator, or the application.

Recommendations on standardization requirements for commercial RPAS operations were based on information gathered from:

  1. A literature review to identify standardization gaps;
  2. A survey with questions informed by the literature review;
  3. Key informant interviews based on the results of the survey; and
  4. A full-day interactive workshop based on data gathered from the interviews.

Given the safety-critical nature of remotely piloted aircraft systems, it is recommended that standards address areas such as enterprise operation, training and certification, data management (e.g. storage and security), priority areas, and simple versus complex operations (hobby RPAS and commercial operators).