Licensing of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

There is growing interest in the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) for a wide range of private and commercial applications. These systems cover a wide variety of types referred to as drones, model aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). As operational use increases rapidly, the provision of safe access to radio spectrum by the equipment deployed in these systems becomes an important issue for the national civil aviation and radio regulators to ensure assurance of service and to avoid interference.
This brief paper describes the key elements of RPAS and discusses how RPAS are categorised, which parts of radio spectrum they generally operate in and how they are licensed to operate. It should be noted that RPAS is a developing area and there is significant ongoing work which will inevitably lead to further clarification on the key issues discussed in this paper.