Operations Manual

While the System Description sets out to describe the UAS (the UAV and its GCS), the OM details how the UAS should be operated in general terms. In our practice it does not detail actual flight plans and locations or individual personnel but does set out requirements and roles along with the procedures to be followed. We use a separate document to set out the details of particular flight plans, locations, and teams of operators: this allows for new flight plans and operator teams to be filed without the need to rewrite the OM.[1] We essentially follow the template of Tables 19.1-19.4 in setting out the manual.

Organization, Team Roles, and Communications

The roles and skill levels of the various people needed to conduct safe flights must be set out in the OM. This will include at least the pilot and the individual in charge of operations (in our practice, these are separate roles since the pilot must be free to focus on the aircraft and not be distracted by other aspects of operation). We would normally also add a system maintenance engineer and, if an autonomous GCS system is to be used, a suitably qualified operator in addition to the pilot. Sometimes it is useful to have assistants to enforce a cordon around the operational area. The manual should also set out how these individuals communicate with each other and those not involved in operations, such as spectators or general members of the public not involved in the flights. As noted in Table 19.2, consideration must be given to training, qualifications, crew health, and logs.

  • [1] Many regulators require updated details if operators, locations, or activities change significantly for the larger classes of UAVs.
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