The Digitising Specific Category Operations (DiSCO) project

Dear operator,

We’d like to inform you that the CAA is undertaking a new project that will improve the PDRA-01 application process from Q1 2024.

The Digitising Specific Category Operations (DiSCO) project will transform the operational authorisation process for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the Specific Category by standardising and simplifying the process and providing a pathway to enable more complex RPAS operations in a scalable way. The project comprises of four key workstreams:

A new standardised approach to risk assessment (UK SORA)
A new remote pilot competence scheme
A new flight worthiness scheme
A new online application process, initially for PDRA-01s and then for SORA-based applications
The new online application form for PDRA-01

The new online application form and process for PDRA-01’s will be launched in Q1 2024. Key features include:

A streamlined application process: PDRA-01 applications will be declarative in nature, reducing the amount of information required to be provided to us at the point of application

Faster authorisation: Authorisations will be granted in less than 24 hours.

Oversight: Post-application, operators will continue to be subject to safety checks during the 12-month period over which their Operational Authorisation is valid, as part of our oversight regime. This will involve being asked to provide an up-to-date Operations Manual, along with evidence that the processes within it are being followed, such as logbooks

There is no impact to current PDRA-01 authorisations, these remain valid until point of renewal, at which point, applications should be made using the new online application tool.

Applications for other types of Specific Category authorisations, based on a full Operating Safety Case, will continue to be processed using the existing system until 2025.

Where to find out more

We are committed to keeping the industry updated as the project progresses. For this purpose, we have created a section on the CAA website, where you can find more information about the project, and key workstreams. All key updates will be posted on the website.

We’ll also be in touch with operators again closer to the launch of the new PDRA-01 application tool. Please do not reply to this email. Responses to this email will not be monitored. We will continually update the CAA website with more information throughout the course of the project.


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