RPAS Equipment

Here we explain a variety of drone terminology relating to RPAS equipment that you may encounter:

Autopilot / Flight Controller – All RPAs have a Flight Controller or Autopilot. Common examples include the DJI Naza or A2 or the 3DR Pixhawk or APM. Ready-to-Fly aircraft usually have their own specialised controller. A typical autopilot system may consist of one or more modules or boxes. These may include a PMU (Power Management Unit), MCU (Main Control Unit), a GPS/Compass Module and an IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit). Some controllers have separate units for each of these while others have them integrated into one unit.

Camera Gimbal – A camera gimbal is a motorised attachment for an RPA that enables a camera to remain stable while the RPA is moving. Additionally, a gimbal maintains a constant direction which the camera is pointed in utilising its on-board servos or motors

Data Link – Data links transmit information between autopilot systems and information technology such as PCs, tablets or smartphones. This link allows the user to pilot the RPA from their own personal platform. This may also allow for enhanced automation, waypoint and flight planning capabilities. Many programs are available for PC’s, Apple products and Android phones.

ESC – ESC stands for electric speed controller. ESC’s are similar to a remote switch that regulate how much current flows through an RPA’s motors, hence how fast the propellers spin and how much lift the aircraft generates

First Person View – Abbreviated FPV, First Person View systems allow for a video stream to be delivered to the Remote pilot station (RPS). This makes the Remote Pilot (RP) feel as if he/she is on board the aircraft, allowing for ease of control and increased visibility and flying precision. Note however that in Australia, a Remote Pilot is required to maintain Visual Line of Sight at all times, so an observer must be used if flying FPV.

Retractable Undercarriage – Retractable undercarriage systems can be used to enhance a Gimbal’s freedom of movement, whilst sometimes also reducing drag on the aircraft. Just remember before landing; AYWD – Are Your Wheels Down?

Transmitter/Receiver Systems – More commonly known by terms such as remotes or ariels, Transmitter/Receiver systems (abbreviated Tx and Rx) allow control inputs to be transmitted from the remote pilot station (RPS) to the RPA.

Video Overlay Software – Video overlay software can be used as an FPV accessory. Usually on board the RPA, a video overlay system is connected to an autopilot system, imposing critical flight data such as airspeed, altitude and attitude onto the FPV video stream. This data can greatly enhance the accuracy and safety of operating an RPA.

 

Key Terms

Aircraft

Any machine that can derive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the air other than the reactions

Aircraft category

Classification of aircraft according to specified basic characteristics, e.g. aeroplane, helicopter,

Autonomous aircraft

An unmanned aircraft that does not allow pilot intervention in the management of the flight.

Autonomous operation

An operation during which a remotely-piloted aircraft is operating without pilot intervention in

Chicago Convention

The first international aviation convention ever signed in 1944, by 52 countries, forming the basis on which the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) was formed.

Command and control link

The data link between the remotely-piloted aircraft and the remote pilot station for the

Commercial operation

An aircraft operation conducted for business purposes (mapping, security surveillance, wildlife survey, aerial application, etc.) other than commercial air transport, for remuneration or hire.

Crew member

A person assigned by an operator to duty on an aircraft during a flight duty period.

Detect and avoid

The capability to see, sense or detect conflicting traffic or other hazards and take the appropriate action to comply with the applicable rules of flight.

Flight crew member

A licensed crew member charged with duties essential to the operation of an aircraft during a flight duty period.

Flight recorder

Any type of recorder installed in the aircraft for the purpose of complementing accident/incident investigation. In the case of remotely-piloted aircraft, it also includes any type of recorder installed in a remote pilot station for the purpose of complementing accident/incident investigation.

Flight time (Fixed Wing)

The total time from the moment an aeroplane first moves for the purpose of taking off until the moment it finally comes to rest at the end of the flight.

Flight time (Rotary Wing)

The total time from the moment a helicopter’s rotor blades start turning until the moment the helicopter finally comes to rest at the end of the flight, and the rotor blades are stopped.

Flying pilot

A person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft and is responsible for the flight trajectory of the aircraft.

Handover

The act of passing piloting control from one remote pilot station to another.

Instrument flight time

Time during which a pilot is piloting an aircraft solely by reference to instruments and without external reference points.

Large UAV

A UAV of a mass greater than 100 kilograms (Rotary Wing) or 150 Kilograms (Fixed Wing)

Lost link

The loss of command and control link contact with the remotely-piloted aircraft such that the remote pilot can

Micro UAV

A UAV with a mass of less than One Kilogram

Note

This is a subcategory of unmanned aircraft.

Notice to show cause

A formal notice for an individual or business to make a case for why their licence should not be revoked by CASA

Operational control

The exercise of authority over the initiation, continuation, diversion or termination of a flight in the

Operator

A person, organization or enterprise engaged in or offering to engage in an aircraft operation.

Pilot-in-command

The pilot designated by the operator, or in the case of general aviation, the owner, as being in charge of the safe operation of the aircraft

Radio line-of-sight

A direct electronic point-to-point contact between a transmitter and a receiver.

Remote crew member

A licensed crew member charged with duties essential to the operation of a remotely-piloted aircraft, during flight time.

Remote pilot

The person who manipulates the flight controls of a remotely-piloted aircraft during flight time.

Remote pilot station

The station at which the remote pilot manages the flight of an unmanned aircraft.

Remotely-piloted

Control of an aircraft from a pilot station which is not on board the aircraft.

Remotely-piloted aircraft

An aircraft where the flying pilot is not on board the aircraft.

Remotely Piloted aircraft system

A set of configurable elements consisting of a remotely-piloted aircraft, its associated remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other system elements as may be required, at any point during flight operation.

RPA observer

A remote crew member who, by visual observation of the remotely-piloted aircraft, assists the remote

Segregated airspace

Airspace of specified dimensions allocated for exclusive use to a specific user(s).

Small UAV

A UAV with a mass greater than One Kilogram yet less than 100 kilograms (Rotary Wing) or 150 Kilograms (Fixed Wing)

UAV Controllers Certificate

A CASA issued certificate authorising the holder to fly UAVs as part of a commercial operation

UAV Operators Certificate

A CASA issued certificate authorising individuals or businesses to conduct commercial UAV operations

Unmanned aircraft

An aircraft which is intended to operate with no pilot on board.

Unmanned aircraft system

An aircraft and its associated elements which are operated with no pilot on board.

Visual line-of-sight operation

An operation in which the remote crew maintains direct visual contact with the aircraft to manage its flight and meet separation and collision avoidance responsibilities.

 

Acronyms

AGL

Above Ground Level

AC

Advisory Circular

AIP

Aeronautical Information Package

ATC

Air Traffic Control

ATM

Air Traffic Management

AA

Area Approval

ARN

Aviation Reference Number

AROCP

– Aircraft Radio Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency

ATSB

Australian Transport Safety Bureau

ASIC

Aviation Security Identification Card

BAK

Basic Aeronautical Knowledge

BVLOS

Beyond Visual Line of Sight

CASA

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

CASR 101

Civil Aviation Safety Regulation Part 101 (UAVs)

CC

UAV Controller’s Certificate

CAO

Civil Aviation Orders

CASR 1998

Civil Aviation Regulations 1988

CASA

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

CTAF

Common Traffic Advisory Frequency

CTA

Controlled Airspace

DAMP

Drug and Alcohol Management Plan

ERSA

En-Route Supplement Australia

EVLOS

– Extended Visual Line of Sight

IAW

In accordance with

ICAO

International Civil Aviation Organisation

NM

Nautical Miles

NOTAM

Notice to Airmen

OEM

Original Equipment Manufacturer

PPL

Private Pilot’s Licence

RP

Remote Pilot

RPIC

Remote Pilot in Command

RPA

Remotely Piloted Aircraft

RPAS

Remotely Piloted Aircraft System

RPS

Remote Pilot Station

SMS

Safety Management System

SARP

Standard and Recommended Procedures

UAV

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

UOC/OC

UAV Operators Certificate

UA

Unmanned Aircraft

UAS

Unmanned Aircraft System(s)

VLOS

Visual Line of Sight

VMC

Visual Meteorological Conditions

VLOS

Visual Line of Sight