UK CAA Unveils BVLOS Sandbox Trial

UK CAA Unveils BVLOS Sandbox Trial

The UK CAA is looking for stakeholders to join its Regulatory Sandbox to help shape the future of BVLOS drone operations. Participating organisations will trial systems to enable the integration of UAS into unsegregated airspace utilising temporary reserved areas.

Last updated: Dec 18, 2023

3 minute read

UK CAA unveils Regulatory Sandbox to shape BVLOS future.

  • UK CAA unveils Regulatory Sandbox to develop a strategy for BVLOS drone operations in unsegregated airspace;
  • Key stakeholders encouraged to apply to trial systems to enable the integration of UAS into unsegregated airspace utilising temporary reserved areas.
  • CAA seeking a range of organisations and use cases, including delivery operations, surveying, search and rescue, and security.

Key stakeholders are invited to join a Regulatory Sandbox to help the UK CAA shape the future capability of BVLOS drone operations in unsegregated airspace.

The initiative centres on a policy concept using Temporary Reserved Areas (TRA).

The Civil Aviation Authority are inviting organisations to join its Regulatory 

A TRA is a section of airspace that is temporarily reserved and allocated for a specific use and period of time, and through which other traffic may or may not be allowed to transit in accordance with the air traffic management arrangements.

Establishing TRAs will enable the trialling of systems and approaches to safely enable the transition of UAS from segregated to unsegregated airspace in the UK.

The call to join the Sandbox is open to individual organisations or consortia working on the development of UA systems operating BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight).

The objectives of the sandbox are to:

  • Demonstrate technologies, airspace management procedures and Air Traffic Service (ATS) provisions, and flight operation procedures that may enable the safe and managed integration of BVLOS UAS and crewed aircraft.
  • Enable participants to progress beyond segregation towards integration of BVLOS UAS flights with crewed aircraft and deliver integrated use of airspace.
  • Enable the CAA to validate the use of the airspace policy concept with real world use cases to evidence how it supports and enables the accommodation phase.

The CAA says that there is an expectation that BVLOS will expand rapidly in the coming years, and to do this successfully, there is a need for UAS to be able to enter the airspace system routinely and to integrate safely in unsegregated airspace, without the need for special provisions.

As such, the Sandbox is an important step for developing a BVLOS framework in the UK: Particularly pertinent for organisations wanting to integrate solutions such as the DJI Dock and the DJI FlyCart 30.

Who Can Apply For the Sandbox?

The CAA is seeking a range of end-use applications for the sandbox. Use cases include:

  • Delivery operations (medical, commercial, etc.)
  • Development of test and trial capabilities utilising the flexibility of the TRA policy concept
  • Surveying
  • Search and rescue
  • Security applications
  • Academic development of UAS integration capabilities
  • Validation testing of equipment and procedures against technical standards

Interested participants must identify how their trials will support one or more of the following key CAA enabling policy areas:

  • Build specific safety arguments for management of air and ground risk
  • Electronic conspicuity
  • Detect and Avoid (Cooperative & Non-Cooperative)
  • Unmanned Traffic Management
  • Airspace requirements for integration of BVLOS unmanned aircraft
  • Remote pilot competency
  • Command and Control (C2) link
  • FIS-B
  • Service Provision needs and requirements for UAS in TMZ

Sandbox applicants must be able to demonstrate a range of conditions, including but not limited to:

  • The airspace change sponsor must be familiar with the process to submit an airspace change proposal in accordance with CAP1616.
  • The applicant must be able to explain how their participation in the sandbox will support the transition from segregation to integration.
  • The UAS operator must be competent and experienced in applying for Specific category authorisations to conduct BVLOS flights.
  • The UAS operator is ready to conduct BVLOS flights in the TRA and can support the full duration of the test trial plan developed.

Organisation(s) which enter the CAA Regulatory Sandbox will receive support from a dedicated innovation advisor and regulatory subject matter experts.

Online Briefing Event

A short briefing event will take place on January 10, 2024, at 2pm via MS Teams where interested parties will be able to ask questions of the CAA with regards to the application process.

Click here to register. Joining instructions will be sent out on the morning of the briefing.

The application period for this Sandbox has a staggered approach with three tranches:

  • Tranche 1: Closing date 23:59 on Thursday, February 1, 2024
  • Tranche 2: Closing date 23:59 on Thursday, February 29, 2024
  • Tranche 3: Closing Date 23:59 on Thursday, April 4, 2024

Only those who are accepted into the Sandbox trial will be able to establish a trial TRA.

The Regulatory Sandbox is managed by the CAA Innovation Advisory Services team working in collaboration with the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Unit and Airspace, Air Traffic Management & Aerodromes (AAA) Department.

It allows the CAA to develop policies that better meet the needs of the industry, and to shorten the lifecycle for developing these policies.

For more details, including detailed application criteria, click here.


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