Permit support for an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to measure snow depths
6. December 2021
Project number: 4.414.10001 (SORA Kölnbrein hydroelectric dam)
Involved cooperation partners:
FH Kärnten | University of Applied Sciences
The aim of this project is to evaluate the capabilities of an UAS for measuring snow depths in high alpine terrain and to practically perform a more advanced proof-of-concept test for the UTM integration designed within the exploratory research project FFG Take-Off DRONE RISK AUSTRIA. In addition, the planned flights will demonstrate and test the successful connection of the Ground Control Station (GCS) to the AIRlabs innovation UTM-system. This connection was realised by Frequentis AG, allowing telemetry data to be transmitted directly to the AIRlabs innovation UTM-system and made visible there.
In order to be able to carry out these flights, a risk analysis (SORA) compliant with the EASA-UAS regulations and the associated concept of operations (ConOps) were prepared, submitted to the competent authority and approved by it. In particular, AIRlabs provided support in the design of the flight route, in the determination of the operational volume and the ground risk buffer, and in the structuring of the documents for an approval in the specific category.
Further novelties within this project were the type and size of the drone (a fixed-wing aircraft with a total mass of approx. 5 kg) and the combination of manual flight (take-off, landing) and automatic flight segments (scan pattern for measuring snow depths).
A full risk analysis/SORA was implemented for the development of the use case, which included a detailed description of the individual applications, airborne and ground operating environments, standard-, safety- and emergency procedures, risk mitigation measures, and methods to meet other safety-critical and legal requirements.
As a result, it can also be stated that an Operations Manual (OM) is mandatory for a permit, regardless if it is a homebuilt drone. The OM should be a clear reference for the remote pilot and all parties involved as to which procedures apply to the specific operation.
In addition, the results from the DRONE-RISK-AUSTRIA tools were used for the first time for the analyses of the ground and air risk (population density, etc.) and accepted by the authority.
Further dissemination measures are planned or possible upon implementation of the approved use case.
Associated research project (+consortium):
FFG TakeOff-Project DRONE RISK AUSTRIA (FH Kärnten, UBIMET, Frequentis AG, Austro Control)
SNOWDRONE (FH Kärnten, VUM (Verbund Umwelt Management GmbH))