Certification of Software for UAVs

Phil Avery

Safety & Airworthiness Manager, Thales UK

Away from the hobbyist “drones” available to all, the Unmanned Air system (UAS) industry is still relatively new and mainly in the military domain where their use can be restricted to segregated airspace. These systems are also new to the regulatory bodies and stakeholders whom we have to satisfy in order to achieve the recognised certification to allow us to use them.

I shall share the experiences and lessons learned during the certification activities that led to the first Tactical UAS receiving a Statement of Type Design Assurance from the UKs Military Aviation Authority (MAA) in 2013, now in service with the British Army, and how we continue to manage the certification activities for design changes and updates.

The talk will discuss the difference between safety, airworthiness and certification, before describing the software aspects of certification. This will be based upon our experience of the activities that had to be performed to demonstrate compliance with software standards. The conclusion will identify the key lessons learned by the experience that includes: defining the process of certification up front, managing expectations, identifying where to aim finite resources for maximum benefit, engaging and knowing the stakeholders.

About Phil Avery

Phil has over thirty years’ experience of real-time software engineering including both embedded and non-embedded development of airborne platforms mainly in the defence industry. He is currently the Safety & Airworthiness Manager within a Prime Contract Management Organisation (PCMO) responsible for the development and delivery of an Unmanned Air System (UAS) for the British Army. This was the first UK UAS that has been through the full Military Aviation Authority (MAA) Regulatory process known as the Military Air Systems Certification Process of which the certification of software was the primary interest. This certification resulted in the Release To Service of the UAS to the British Army in 2014. Phil obtained an MSc in Safety Critical Systems Engineering from the University of York in 2013.

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