ACG stands for Austro Control (full name: Austro Control österreichische Gesellschaft für Luftfahrt mit beschränkter Haftung), which is responsible for ensuring that air traffic in Austrian airspace is safe and efficient. It was founded in 1993 as the successor to the Austrian Federal Office for Civil Aviation and is a partially privatized limited liability company.
ACG’s core tasks include the operational business of air traffic control and the area of regulatory agendas as an aviation agency. The operational tasks include, for example, the monitoring of UAS flights, while its regulatory responsibilities include issuing drone operator’s licenses or approving flight routes.
Above Ground Level | AMSL – Above Mean Sea Level
Above Ground Level (AGL) and Above Mean Sea Level (AMSL) are central terms in aviation for determining the flight altitude of an aircraft. While AGL depends on the topography of the area in question and reflects actual flight altitude and distance from objects such as buildings or mountains, AMSL is the elevation or altitude of an object relative to the average sea level datum.
Air Risk Class
Air Risk Class (ARC) is an important value required for procedural SORA risk assessment. ARC is used to determine the risk to an UA flight in a specific airspace. The air risk class takes into account the airspace structure, as well as the density of aircraft movements in the flight area in general.
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Air Risk and Communication Unit
The Air Risk and Communication Unit (ARCU) sends all of the telemetry data from an UAS aircraft to the end-to-end ARCA© platform via 5G. This data is used to generate a digital twin of the UAS. Advantages include the planning of maintenance and service intervals and the documentation of the general life cycle of each UAS.
Air Traffic Management
A well-organized Air Traffic Management (ATM) system is capable of strategically coordinating airspace so as to guarantee safety and security.
Beyond Visual Line of Sight
Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is a specific mode of operation for unmanned aerial vehicles and refers to flights that go beyond the visual line of sight of pilots. Pilots rely on technical aids to ensure a controlled flight. Flights are either partially or fully automated. This type of operation requires an operating license issued by Austro Control.
Concept of Operations
For UAS, a Concept of Operations, or ConOps, essentially refers to a document that describes to users, on an abstract level, which specific operational parameters and operating conditions are relevant for an UAS flight. The goal is to explain qualitative and quantitative system characteristics without excessive technical detail. The term is also widely used in other fields such as education, finance, and health.
Detect and Avoid
Detect and Avoid (DAA) describes a range of different technologies that enable an UAS to move safely in civil airspace and automatically avoid collisions with different aircrafts, buildings or other obstacles. To accomplish this, the system observes the environment in the immediate vicinity and autonomously decides whether a collision could be imminent. If danger is imminent, the flight path is altered to prevent a collision. Data from a wide range of sources (sensor fusion algorithms, automated image recognition, AI) is used to calculate the best possible evasive path.
Europäische Agentur für Flugsicherheit / European Union Aviation Safety Agency
EASA stands for the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and is the EU’s civil aviation authority. Based in Cologne, Germany, the organization was founded in 2002 and is responsible for establishing and monitoring uniform environmental and safety standards for flight operations at the European level. Alongside Austro Control, it is the regulatory body responsible not only for creating framework conditions for air traffic, but also in many cases for ensuring compliance.
Ground Control Station
A Ground Control Station (GCS) is ground-based hardware and software that allows pilots to control their UAS. This is done either by accessing the UAS remotely or by setting parameters for autonomous operations ahead of time. Basically, it is the pilot’s task to plan, control and guide flights. Some GCSs also enable the reception and livestreaming of videos or other data.
Global Navigation Satellite System
The Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) currently consists of around 30 satellites orbiting the earth at an altitude of approximately 20,000 km. Originally, however, GNSS was developed as a collective term for existing and future satellite systems and makes precise positioning and satellite signal-based navigation possible. At present, signals from at least four different satellites must be available for a position to be determined accurately.
The system, which was originally developed for the military sector, is now used in many civilian areas and is also of particular importance for BVLOS flights.
Ground Risk Class
Ground Risk Class (GRC) is an important parameter for SORA risk assessment in UAS flights and assesses overflight risk. The GRC is ascertained by establishing, among other things, whether the flight is over open terrain or over a crowd of people. The GRC value determines the strategic or tactical measures the operator must take to minimize risk depending on the danger to people on the ground.
A designated take-off and landing zone helps an UAS to land safely and without incidents. Essentially, the speed, weight and size of the respective UA determines in detail which requirements a landing zone (LAZ) must meet. An optimal LAZ takes the following parameters into account: Stable and level ground, an area devoid of buildings and vegetation and good visibility.
Like the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for manned aviation, the Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC) is an organizational approval certificate for UAS operators. It is awarded to legal entities only after undergoing comprehensive regulatory audits. LUC is part of the EU Drone Regulation, which came into force at the beginning of 2021. It enables UAS operators to issue operating licenses themselves, depending on the privileges granted by the relevant aviation authority. The LUC covers flights up to risk class SAIL VI.
Aviation Routine Weather Report
The Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) is a short-form notification format for hourly reports on weather conditions at an airfield. A METAR report usually consists of the identification code (ICAO code) of the airfield, the time of observation, and details on wind direction, visibility, air pressure, cloud formations and the like. The system is used worldwide.
Special Reports (SPECI), on the other hand, are issued whenever weather conditions change rapidly or when other time-critical information, for example in the event of an accident, needs to be communicated.
Maximum Take Off Mass
Maximum Take Off Mass (MTOM) is the mass at which an aircraft is allowed to take off. Payload and fuel are included in the maximum weight, which is determined as part of the certification process and is based on the aircraft’s structural and performance-related specifications. The weight of an UA forms the basis for the ground risk assessment (GRC).
National Aviation Authority
A National Aviation Authority (NAA) is the agency that organizes a country’s civil aviation. It is responsible for the certification of aircraft and manages civil airspace. Austro Control (ACG) is the competent authority in Austria. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is responsible for the entire European region.
Notices to Airmen
Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) are necessary for the safe and smooth flow of air traffic. NOTAM primarily contains last-minute and critical changes, procedures and information that are of particular importance in carrying out a flight. Typically, these messages include reports on the condition of aviation assets or hazards that are essential to safe air traffic. In principle, this short-term information is valid for up to three months.
NOTAM is also used for UA flights. It is common practice for UA operators to inform other air traffic participants about their flights by means of NOTAMs. Similarly, all pilots are required to check all NOTAMs for the flight area before each flight.
The Operations Manual (OM) of UA operators contains all information about the organizational structure, procedures and safety measures that guarantee a standardized operation in compliance with regulations.
Operational Safety Objective EU V 2019/947
In the operational category “specific”, operational risk (damage, risk of injury, threats to people in general) and risk mitigation measures and their robustness are considered. For this purpose, a level of protection (robustness) is defined in each case, on the basis of which safety objectives (OSO – Operational Safety Objectives) must be met to varying degrees. In addition to technical aspects, these also include requirements for operators in terms of quality, training and organization.
Platform as a Service
Platform as a Service (PaaS) refers to cloud-based services that give subscribers access to a complete development and operating environment without having to purchase separate infrastructure, hardware or software. The advantage for customers of these services is that this eliminates many administrative tasks. Instead, flexibility, scalability and a high degree of availability enable the optimal use, ideally end-to-end, of the platform. Typically, PaaS systems include both the necessary technical infrastructure, such as servers and storage, as well as required database management systems, middleware and software packages.
Generally, payload (PLD) refers to the object or entity carried by an unmanned aerial vehicle. This value is so important that UAS are regularly advertised based on their payload capacity. The larger the PLD, the wider the array of sensor systems that can fit on board and the easier it is to customize an meet specific user needs. The PLD’s importance depends on the task to be performed and is particularly important when the UA is used for scientific purposes or delivery services.
Payload Operating Control Unit
The Payload Operating Control Unit (POCU) adapts all data collected during an UA flight to fit the available bandwidth so that it can be sent as a live stream directly to the end-to-end ARCA© platform. Additional data from external sensors on land, inwater and in the air can also be transmitted as required.
Robustness describes the level of flight safety. Depending on the operational risk class (SAIL), operators of flights in the category “specific” are required to demonstrate to the aviation authority that the flight is being conducted in compliance with the law. Robustness is made up of the Level of Integrity (LOI) and the Level of Assurance (LOA) and describes which safeguards must be taken and how these can be made credible.
Robotic Process Automation
Robot-assisted process optimization (RPA) replaces repetitive, time-consuming or error-prone activities with so-called software robots, colloquially also referred to as bots, for automation purposes. Model-driven or self-learning approaches can be taken depending on the bot. In UAS, RPA is used in particular for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).
Specific Assurance and Integrity Level
The Specific Assurance and Integrity Level (SAIL) is determined based on GRC and ARC values. SAIL is an assessment of how high the risk of a planned UAS flight is and which measures must be taken by the UAS pilot and operator during operation. The SAIL value is central for SORA-based general risk assessment.
Specific Operational Risk Assessment
Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) is a risk assessment system used throughout Europe to ensure that UAS flights are as safe as possible. SORA is based on Air Risk Class (ARC) and Ground Risk Class (GRC) values, which are used to determine a Specific Assurance and Integrity Level (SAIL) value. SAIL indicates the probability that an UAS operation will proceed without incident. The express goal is to avoid undesirable incidents involving people on the ground, other air traffic participants and critical infrastructure.
A SORA risk assessment can be obtained from Austro Control as part of an application for UAS operator’s license or can be determined by the operators themselves.
The abbreviation UA denotes an unmanned aircraft. UAs in Austria must be registered with the aviation safety authority Austro Control. In addition, liability insurance is required. When registering an UA over 250g, the applicant must also complete an online test similar to a “drone pilot’s license” which is mandatory for piloting an UA. The only drones exempt from registration are micro drones, which come under the EU-Toys-Directive. UA classification is usually based on various attributes such as type, flight altitude, weight, speed and payload capacity.
Unmanned Aircraft System
UAS stands for Unmanned Aircraft System and, in accordance with EU law, refers to unmanned aircraft and all of the systems required for their operation. In addition, the term includes other subsystems such as the Ground Control Station (GCS), the take-off and landing system, the navigation system and other supporting technology.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is the now rather obsolete term for an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Specifically, UAV describes an aircraft that is flown without a flight crew and is autonomous and operated by a computer or from the ground using remote control. Colloquially, UAVs are often referred to as drones. They are subject to varying legal regulations depending on their size, weight and sensor technology. Unlike UAS, which encompasses all subsystems, i.e. navigation, UAV refers strictly to the aircraft itself.
In the future, all of Europe’s airspace will be organized transnationally under the name “U-Space” for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles. This will enable the safe integration of UAS into the airspace, because U-Space will coordinate all air traffic participants, manned and unmanned. U-Space will be clearly differentiated from the remaining airspace.
UAS Traffic Management
UAS Traffic Management (UTM) is a traffic management system for UAS and is used for the safe and efficient operation of UAS in all operational categories. It combines air situation images from manned and unmanned aviation, transmits flight plans, identifies UAS and issues warnings for restricted airspace.
Visual Line Of Sight
Visual Line of Sight (VLOS), or direct line-of-sight operation, is a commonly used term in aviation. In this specific mode of operation, pilots control an UAS with a direct line of sight and without any other technical aids such as cameras. EVLOS (Extended Visual Line of Sight) flights can be considered an extension of VLOS flights, where observers relay critical information to the pilots, or technical aids also enable direct control of the UAS. This contrasts with BVLOS flights, which go beyond direct and indirect line of sight and where direct control is initiated by the observing pilots only in emergencies.
Vertical Take-off and Landing
VTOL describes the ability of aircraft or even an UAS to take off and land vertically without a runway.