A LUC (Light UAS Operator Certificate) is a certificate that grants professional drone operators and manufacturers special privileges for their drone operations. Holders of a LUC can independently perform well-defined processes for which the FOCA is normally responsible.
The FOCA issues a LUC to those operators and manufacturers who already have experience with the application of the SORA methodology and are familiar with the organizational requirements specific to a UAS operator.
The following conditions apply:
- LUC holders must continuously comply with the relevant requirements and obligations issued by the FOCA (or the Member State that issued the LUC); and
- The certificate must not have been suspended or revoked by the FOCA.
The privileges defined in the LUC apply exclusively to the operator's own drone operations and cannot be exercised with third party companies.
Period of validity
A LUC is valid (unless otherwise specified in the certification conditions) in all EASA member states and is issued for an unlimited period of time.
If a holder of a LUC intends to operate in the "special category" wholly or partly outside Swiss airspace, the following information must be provided to the authority responsible for that airspace:
- a copy of the LUC conditions of approval; and
- an indication of the location(s) where the proposed operation is to take place.
LUC holders may benefit from the following privileges, among others:
- Authorization of drone operations covered by a standard scenario (STS) without issuing a declaration to the FOCA;
- Authorization of drone operations that fall under a PDRA (Pre-defined Risk Assessment) without requesting for an authorization from the FOCA;
- Authorization of changes to an already approved drone operation, without prior verification by the FOCA;
- Authorization of a new type of drone operation without prior verification by FOCA of those operations that are similar to the operation already conducted (e.g., same SAIL category, same risk mitigation measures).
Effective privileges depend on operational requirements, organizational structure and processes, and expertise in demonstrating compliance with the SORA methodology requirements of applicants. Privileges will be discussed and agreed with FOCA, as part of the LUC application process.
LUC holders initially have a limited number of privileges, which can then be progressively expanded.
Any legal entity with a place of business in Switzerland may apply for a LUC. The following minimum requirements must be met:
- Hold at least one valid (and current) operating authorization (STS, PDRA, SORA, depending on the requirement) issued or validated by the FOCA.
- Sufficient and demonstrable experience corresponding to the desired privileges
- Establishment of a LUC manual that includes all processes for exercising the privileges.
- The company has an adequate organization (structure and processes) for the requested privileges (further defined in the next section)
If not all of the above criteria can be met, it may be easier to apply for an operating authorization (or its amendment) directly to the FOCA (e.g. standard scenario, PDRA, SORA authorization).
LUC holders are entitled by virtue of their privileges to perform certain tasks and processes normally performed by the FOCA. LUC holders must therefore demonstrate a suitable organization to ensure that the privileges are exercised in a reliable and safe manner. The FOCA conducts regular audits to ensure that LUC holders are complying with the privileges and obligations defined in the LUC, as well as the procedures set forth in the LUC Manual. In the event of non-compliance, the FOCA may restrict the privileges or withdraw the LUC as a final consequence.
The minimum organizational requirements for granting a LUC are:
- An adequate organizational structure that ensures that the duties and privileges are fulfilled in accordance with the LUC manual (e.g., sufficient financial resources, ensuring independent monitoring of compliance);
- A safety management system appropriate for the privileges requested; and
- Sufficient competent and trained personnel.
Because of the organizational requirements associated with obtaining and maintaining a LUC, such a certificate is appropriate for large companies that have sufficient qualified staff and where a variety of changes to their existing operating authorizations or new authorizations are required.
The application process consists of 3 phases:
- The applicant completes the LUC application form1 and submits it electronically to FOCA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Upon receipt of the formal application, FOCA acknowledges receipt and conducts a pre-evaluation.
2. Definition of privileges and level of involvement
After successful pre-evaluation, FOCA agrees on the privileges requested and, based on the privileges and the specific organization, defines the level of involvement (how much information or evidence shall be provided by applicant to the FOCA).
3. Verification of Compliance
- The applicant shall prepare and provide the required documentation and evidence to demonstrate compliance with personnel, operational, and organizational requirements. The scope of documentation and evidence to be provided depends on the level of involvement.
- Upon successful completion of this phase, the applicant is granted a LUC.
The application form to apply for a LUC will be published on this website shortly.
As soon as the EU drone regulation is in force in Switzerland, the FOCA will issue LUC certificates. In order to prepare adequately for the future demand from UAS operators, FOCA will start accepting applications shortly.
Last modification 09.01.2023