Sections from AWP – Example 3

2.9  First-person view equipment

Background

First-person view equipment allows drone pilots to see the environment through the lens of a camera mounted on the drone. Such equipment is legal and can be very useful, but it brings special requirements.

It is usually required by law that a pilot using a first-person view headset must be accompanied by a visual observer (EASA calls them unmanned aircraft observers) to support the pilot. The reason being the legal requirement for line of sight between pilot and drone and if the pilot wears FPV goggles this line of sight to the drone can only come from a visual observer.

The challenge of FPV goggles from a compliance perspective is that they make it ‘easy’ for pilots to fly beyond the visible line of sight, be it behind structures or at large distances. The same applies to data links which provide real-time video feeds from the drone camera. Flying beyond the visible line of sight is not allowed without special permits or waivers.

Risks

  • Pilots fly drones without visual observers and reduced situational awareness. By doing so they increase the risk of accidents and they break the law.

Audit Steps

  • Understand the legal requirements for pilots who use first-person view headsets.
  • Interview pilots and flightcrews about the use of FPV equipment and why they use it considering that it comes with the requirement to also use visual observers.
  • Validate compliance with the requirement to engage visual observers when flying with FPV gear.