Proceedings of the

The 33rd European Safety and Reliability Conference (ESREL 2023)
3 – 8 September 2023, Southampton, UK

Treatment of Uncertainty in Drone Design Verification: A Critical Look at the EASA Requirements

Selcuk Yilmaz1 and Jon Tømmerås Selvik2

1Field Group, Norway.

2Safety, Economics and Planning Department, University of Stavanger, Norway.


Drones are widely used in the industrial sector, offering benefits such as access to cost effective collection of geospatial and imagery data. However, such systems are complex and prone to failure, making design verification and EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) certification required for acceptable quality before operations. One aspect then assessed is the level of risk. For operators seeking certification, EASA has developed SC Light-UAS 01, providing process and technical specifications. A premise in these being strong foundations for the assessments, where significant uncertainty, or weak strength of knowledge, may challenge the validation process and decision-making. This paper aims to clarify uncertainty handling and discuss strength of knowledge in relation to the EASA requirements and validation process. For this purpose, we compare the standards defined by EASA with key standards used in the aviation industry, including ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and ISO standards. Our findings reveal that uncertainties and the lack of specific guidance on the verification process can lead to delays, cost overruns, and even failures in drone operations. Furthermore, current standards fail to meet the demands of drone operations due to knowledge gaps. Recommendations to strengthen the design verification process include refining the scope of acceptable means of compliance, fostering collaboration and research among stakeholders. This paper provides implications for a more reliable verification process in various industrial contexts.

Keywords: SORA, Design verification, Unmanned air vehicle, Aviation, Risk assessment, Means of compliance.

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