The emergence of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) as a resource for a wide variety of public and private applications quite possibly represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the scientific community and public service since the beginning of flight. Rapid advancements in the technology have presented unique challenges and opportunities to the growing RPAS industry and to those who support it. The nature of RPAS and the environments in which they operate, when not managed properly, can and will create issues that need to be addressed. The future of RPAS will be linked to the responsible and safe use of these systems. Our industry has an obligation to conduct our operations in a safe manner that minimises risk and instils confidence in our systems.
For this reason, ARPAS-UK offers this Code of Conduct on behalf of the RPAS industry for RPAS operation. This Code is intended to provide our members, and those who design, test and operate RPAS for public and civil use, a set of guidelines and recommendations for safe, non-intrusive operations. Acceptance and adherence to this code will contribute to safety and professionalism and will accelerate public confidence in these systems.
The code is built on three specific themes: Safety, Professionalism and Respect. Each theme and its associated recommendations represent a 'common sense' approach to RPAS operations and address many of the concerns expressed by the public and regulators. This code is meant to provide RPAS industry manufacturers and users a convenient checklist for operations and a means to demonstrate their obligation to supporting the growth of our industry in a safe and responsible manner.
By becoming a member of ARPAS-UK, members agree to commit to the following:
- Perform RPAS activities legally, ethically, professionally and where applicable, within the relevant permissions governing the airspace in which the member is flying.
- Promote and further the development of the industry and ARPAS-UK.
- Report incidents to the police, CAA or relevant industry body in order to help the industry grow in the right direction.
- To not operate RPAS in a manner that presents undue risk to persons or property on the ground or in the air.
- To ensure RPAS will be piloted by individuals who are properly trained and competent to operate the aircraft or its systems.
- To ensure RPAS flights will be conducted only after a thorough assessment of risks associated with the activity. This risk assessment will include, but is not limited to:
- Weather conditions relative to the performance capability of the system.
- Identification of normally anticipated failure modes (lost link, power plant failures, loss of control, etc) and consequences of the failures.
- Crew fitness for flight operations.
- Overlying airspace, compliance with aviation regulations of the country as appropriate to the operation and off-nominal procedures.
- Communication, command, control and payload frequency spectrum requirements.
- Reliability, performance and airworthiness to established standards.
- To comply with all country and local laws, covenants and restrictions that relate to RPAS operations.
- To behave ethically at all times and operate as responsible members of the aviation community.
- To be responsive to the needs of the public.
- To respect the rights of other users of the airspace.
- To respect the privacy of individuals.
- To respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations.
- To support improving public awareness and education on the operation of RPAS.
As an industry, it is incumbent upon us to hold ourselves and each other to a high professional and ethical standard. As with any revolutionary technology, there will be mishaps and abuses. However, in order to operate safely and gain public acceptance and trust, we should all act in accordance with these guiding themes and do so in an open and transparent manner. We hope the entire RPAS industry will join ARPAS-UK in adopting this industry Code of Conduct.