• William Hunt MBE

New Ops Manual Requirement?

PfCO and OSC holders may need to update their Operations Manuals as a result of recommendations by the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB).

The requirement has been recommended to the CAA because of the AAIB investigation to DJI M600 Pro (UAS, registration n/a) 131219 UAS collided with a house roof after a GPS-compass error, Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, 13 December 2019.

The UAS, a DJI M600 Pro, was being operated in an automated flight mode to survey a construction site when a GPS-compass error caused the aircraft to revert to a flight mode that required manual control. By the time that the pilot and observer realised that it was not responding to the return-to-home (RTH) function, visual line of sight was lost when the aircraft drifted with the wind beyond a line of trees. It subsequently collided with the roof of a house before falling into the property’s rear garden. No persons were injured.

The pilot, and the observer who was also a pilot, had operated UASs since 2018 and had the required permissions from the UK CAA. Both pilots had relied predominantly on the automated flight capability of their aircraft and had not, nor were required to have, practised for emergencies since completing their flying training in 2018.

The Investigation Report Concludes:

"The pilot was required to take manual control of the aircraft following the loss of its

automated flight modes due to signal interference. However, no manual control inputs

were made, and the aircraft subsequently drifted with the wind until it collided with a

house roof and fell to the ground. No persons were injured.

Operators holding a PfCO issued by the CAA are not currently required to practise

routinely for emergencies or demonstrate the ability to fly their aircraft in a degraded flight

mode. These skills are perishable but, as this accident shows, they may be needed at

any time; it is important that they are maintained to prevent a risk of injury to people or

damage to property. To address this, one Safety Recommendation has been made to the


One Safety Recommendation is made to the UK CAA:

Safety Recommendation 2020-017

"It is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority require that operators

issued with a Permissions for Commercial Operations (PfCO) include in their

operations manuals the need to practise routinely the actions to take in the event

of emergencies, and specify how pilots will remain competent at maintaining

manual control of their aircraft in the event that automated flight modes are lost"

I think it reasonable that we can expect change.

The full AAIB report and recommendations can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/5ee0dbb0e90e071424db3643/DJI_M600_Pro_UAS_reg_na_07-20.pdf

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