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Do We Want to Know the Difference Between RPAS and UAS?

Friday, October 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachael Negron
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Do We Want to Know the Difference Between RPAS and UAS?


I think we do and even we have to and not only in terms of definitions but in terms of regulatory aspects as well. Unmanned aircraft have been seriously considered as a very promising candidate for the “last mile delivery”. The issues of regulating unmanned aircraft apparently have been considered serious enough for ICAO to hold a three day Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Symposium. From 19 to 21 September 2017 about 400 delegates discussed specific issues of operations, safety, training, licensing and regulations.


ICAO doesn’t put all the unmanned aircraft in one category. For them they are different to the extent that there was a separate conference which followed on the RPAS, and it was devoted to the UAS – Unmanned aircraft systems.


But coming back to the RPAS – I was invited to moderate a panel “Status of the regulatory framework” with experts from ICAO, EASA, FAA and JARUS (Joint Authorities on Rule-making for Unmanned Systems). The key conclusion for the air cargo industry – depending on the type of the craft, we need to be prepared to comply with different kinds of regulations. In essence:


Remotely piloted aircraft:

Weight might be the decisive factor for this category

Airspace/aerodrome integration requires control

Control, in real time, provided by a licensed remote pilot

Unmanned aircraft:

Free balloons; Model aircraft; Drones

May be operated with a tool kit provided.






The work on regulations will continue in ICAO with the expectation that in 2018 some will appear and by 2020 we will have enough for both RPAS and UAS to be used with full approval of the regulatory authorities. We will continue staying in touch with ICAO and its partners not only to follow on what is being done, but to make input on the requirements of the air cargo industry.


More will be discussed during the Innovation Track: Unmanned Aircraft and New Airline Technology, October 19th, at 4:10 pm.



Vladimir Zubkov

Secretary General


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