Airhub’s online SORA Tool aids drone operations in European Specific Category

The upcoming European regulations for drones are all about risk management. In the Open category, the risks are predefined and divided into three subcategories. In the Specific category, it works slightly differently: as a drone operator, you can choose to carry out a Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) yourself. A new online tool from AirHub helps with this.

Airhub’s online SORA Tool aids drone operations in European Specific Category

Specific category: three options

Anyone who wants to fly a drone in the Specific category has three options from 1 January 2021. The first option is to work according to so-called standard scenarios (STS). That works well as long as you, as an operator, continue to work within the predetermined restrictions.

Those who want more – and this will soon be the case – can either start working according to a Predefined Risk Assessment (PDRA) or perform a risk analysis themselves (SORA) and take appropriate mitigating measures on the basis of this. A PDRA is a bit like an STS but requires more evidence on the part of the operator. Full customization is only possible through SORAs.

SORA method

The SORA method provides the most freedom but is also the most complex in terms of elaboration. As an operator, you have to determine what the operational volume will be within which the flights will take place and what kind of operation you will perform. You must then translate this correctly within the steps in the SORA and demonstrate that the risks for persons and objects on the ground and for other airspace users are minimized.

All this leads to a series of procedures and security measures on the basis of which the desired flights can be carried out. Think of specific technical requirements for the drones, demonstrable theoretical knowledge and practical experience with the pilots, and an operational manual in which all procedures are described.

Online tool

Because the development of a SORA raises the necessary question marks among operators, AirHub has developed an online tool that helps to efficiently run the process and determine the requirements that must be met in order to be able to perform the intended operations. On this basis, a permit can then be applied for from the ILT.

The online SORA Tool helps you go through the following steps:

1. Description of the Concept of Operations (ConOps);
2. Determining the UAS intrinsic Ground Risk Class (GRC);
3. Determining the Final Ground Risk Class (M1 to M3 mitigations);
4. Determining the UAS initial Air Risk Class (ARC);
5. Apply Strategic Mitigations to determine the intermediate ARC;
6. Apply Tactical Mitigations to determine the final ARC;
7. Determining the Adjacent Area / Airspace considerations;
8. Determining the Comprehensive Safety Portfolio (privacy, security and insurance);
9. Determining the Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels (SAIL);
10. Identification of Operational Safety Objectives (OSO) and other requirements.

The algorithm in the SORA Tool only shows the questions that apply to you and gives you the right information at the right time. After completing the ten steps, all requirements that the operator must meet are shown in a clear report. For example, the technical requirements for the drone are shown, the procedures that must be included in the operational manual and the requirements that are set for the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of the pilot and other crew members.

Available for free

AirHub’s online SORA Tool is available for free. All steps of the SORA can be completed in this way. The resulting custom report can be purchased by the operator. The temporary introductory price for this report is € 99 instead of € 299.

View AirHub’s online SORA Tool at www.airhub.app/online-sora-tool or via www.soratool.com.

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This article first appeared on Dronewatch.nl and is written by Wiebe de Jager who is also a DroneXL contributor.

About the author

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager (@wdejager) is the founder of Dronewatch and author of several bestselling books about drone photography. Wiebe is a certified drone pilot and has a full ROC license.

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