SORA stands for specific operations risk assessment and encompasses a methodology which systematically identifies the risk of drone operations which require a permit. Any drone flight which cannot be covered by either an STS or a PDRA requires an application in accordance with SORA which is specific to the proposed operation.
You are on a page with information about the operating permit according to JARUS SORA 2.0.
The approval of a SORA operating permit is still based on Swiss national law (JARUS SORA 2.0).
|What is it about?|
Why do I need an operating permit in accordance with SORA?
The FOCA and EASA have developed a total of three types of procedure for authorising complex drone operations (CH-STS, EU-STS, PDRA), all based on the SORA methodology. This methodology is used to determine the risk posed by a complex drone operation. This includes operations which take place beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), exceed the maximum height of 120 metres or use a drone whose maximum take-off weight (MTOM) is greater than 25 kg.
The SORA methodology in brief
The SORA methodology represents an iterative process in which the risk of complex drone operations is systematically identified: In a total of 10 steps, the applicants themselves determine where, when and how they perform the operation without endangering people and objects in the air or on the ground. At the end of this process, there is a detailed description of the planned operation and the risks associated with it, as well as the measures required to mitigate the risks.
In line with the updates done at the European level with regards to operations of drones in the specific category and in order to support a smooth transition in case of adoption of EU law, all SAIL III operations valid after 01.07.2021 need to comply with OSO#4 at a low robustness level.
1. ConOps Description
The first step of the SORA requires the applicant to collect and provide the relevant technical, operational and system information needed to assess the risk associated with the intended operation of the UAS. Annex A of this document provides a detailed framework for data collection and presentation. The ConOps description is the foundation for all other activities and should be as accurate and detailed as possible.
2. Determination of the UAS Intrinsic Ground Risk Class (GRC)
3. Final GRC Determination
As defined in JARUS SORA Annex B.
4. Determination of the Initial Air Risk Class (ARC)
5. Application of Strategic Mitigations to determine Residual ARC
As defined in JARUS SORA Annex C.
6. Tactical Mitigation Performance Requirements (TMPR) and Robustness Levels
As defined in JARUS SORA Annex D.
7. Final Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels (SAIL)
and Operational Safety Objectives (OSO) Assignment
8. Identification of Operational Safety Objectives (OSO)
As defined in JARUS SORA Annex E.
9. Adjacent Area/Airspace Considerations
10. Comprehensive Safety Portfolio
In order to ensure correct versioning and to manage changes correctly, the applicant shall prepare a Master Data List which lists current document versions. This also allows the authority to process the request efficiently and ensures a timely response to the authorization request.
Before you submit your SORA documents
All 10 points of this checklist must be fulfilled. If this is not the case, the documents will be returned to the applicant.
What knowledge is necessary for a SORA? As the risk analysis is performed by the applicant (e.g. a company that wishes to perform the complex operation), knowledge of aviation as well as of the usual verification of safety-relevant systems in aviation is a fundamental requirement. Depending on the complexity of the planned operation, applying the SORA methodology is challenging, especially if risk analysis of drone flights is not part of a company’s or applicant’s core business.
Risk analysis in accordance SORA is not within the competence of my company. What are my options? With the aim of simplifying and standardising the underlying processes, the FOCA, EASA and other bodies including JARUS have published specific guidance material (GM), which describes in detail the conditions that complete SORA documentation must contain. There are also companies that specialise in the application of SORA and offer external consultancy services.
The steps to an approval
Note that obtaining a SORA authorisation is often an iterative process: The preparation of a risk analysis according to the SORA methodology takes time and is done in exchange with the FOCA. Therefore, depending on the complexity of a project and the necessary updates on the safety case following FOCA's assessment, the complete duration of a successful evaluation can expand over a longer period of time.
The entire authorization process - from the initial contact with the FOCA, to the completed SORA documents, to the authorisation - can be summarized with the following steps:
|Time||The applicant performs the risk analysis himself and draws up appropriate documentation to be used for the implementation of his operation. Furthermore, his operation must also be approved by the FOCA. Due to the high demand for permits, applicants should allow for an initial processing time of at least three months.|
|Flexibility||The SORA methodology is carried out by the operator himself. Accordingly, the operator must implement the planned operation on the basis of this analysis and meet the requirements he has identified as part of the analysis. The drone does not have to have a class marking. The applicant must be in possession of a certificate of insurance in accordance with Art. 20 of the DETEC Ordinance on Special Category Aircraft (OSCA).|
|Complexity||The degree of complexity is considered to be high to very high, as the risk analysis is performed by the operator himself. Depending on the complexity of the planned operation (SAIL 1 to SAIL 6), the requirements are demanding and require basic skills in the field of aviation.|
The average cost of this permit application process depends on the complexity of the planned operation and the basic quality of the documentation submitted. Accordingly, it is difficult to set a price in advance. Basically, processing costs of several thousand Swiss francs must be expected. The FOCA gives itself the right to refuse applications that foresee an operation in less than three months. If, after analysis of the case, the FOCA can still process the application, a surcharge of up to 50% of the fee will be applied (art. 6 ordinance on the fees of the federal office of civil aviation (GebV-BAZL).
The maximum fee for a SORA permit is 5000 Swiss francs.
|Notice of modification of authorized opperations|
If you wish to report an operational or technical change to operations already authorised by the FOCA, please use the following form to extend your authorisation to this change.
Last modification 28.07.2021