Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA)

In this site you can find:

Risk assessment of the intended operation - SORA

 When conducting an operation not covered by a STS or a PDRA, applicants are required to conduct a risk assessment, identify mitigations and comply with safety objectives.

The risk assessment methodology, known as SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment), is developed for this purpose. EASA published the SORA as an Acceptable mean of compliance to Article 11 to Regulation (EU) 2019/947.

Safety, the risk-based approach. What is SORA?

The SORA is a methodology for the classification of the risk posed by a drone flight in the specific category of operations and for the identification of mitigations and of the safety objectives. It helps the operator to identify operational limitations, training objectives for the personnel essential for the operation (e.g remote pilots, observers, maintainers etc..), technical requirements for the drone and to develop the appropriate operational procedures that will be part of the operator manual.

SORA Risk Evaluation

It is a 10 steps process starting with the description of the operation and the evaluation of ground risk and air risk:

  • The ground risk is related to the risk posed to persons, properties or critical infrastructures, being struck by a drone. It is affected by:
    • the population density;
    • the type of operation:
      • Visual Line of Sight – VLOS; or
      • Beyond Visual Line of Sight – BVLOS; and
    • the drone’s size;
    • the mitigations applied.
  • The air risks determination considers the probability of encountering manned aircraft in the airspace. This is derived from:
    • the density of manned air traffic in the airspace;
    • the mitigations applied.

By combining the residual air and ground risk value, then intrinsic risk values of the full operation, called SAIL (Specific assurance integrity level) is defined.

A high value SAIL represents an operation with high potential risk. Once determined the SAIL, the applicant needs to go through the 24 operational safety objectives (OSOs) and to show compliance with a level of robustness that is increasing with the SAIL of the operation (e.g. operations with higher SAIL, meaning with higher intrinsic risk, will be required to show compliance with higher level of robustness, meaning more demanding standard and showing compliance to the NAA).

The last point is to assess the level of risk of the area adjacent to the area of operation, and comply with the requirements to protect such area and contain the drone in the operational area in case of a fly away.

Compliance with the design requirements of the drone

Some of the OSOs identifies the design requirements that the drone needs to comply with. Depending on the SAIL, compliance may be demonstrate with:

  • a declaration, for SAIL I and II or;
  • applying to EASA for a design verification report (DVR), for SAIL III and IV;
  • applying to EASA for a type certificate for SAIL V and VI.

Also, if the drone uses a technical mitigation (called M2) with high level of robustness then a DVR issued by EASA is required. Compliance with technical mitigations (M2) with medium level of robustness or enhanced containment can be declared by the manufacturer if appropriate means of Compliance published by EASA are used. In other cases a DVR should be used, unless the NAA decides differently.

Submission of SORA to the NAA

When all steps of the SORA has been accomplished, the operator must submit to the NAA:

  • The application form for the operational authorisation;
  • A copy of the risk assessment and compliance evidences;
  • A copy of the operator manual.

 If the NAA is satisfied with the information the applicant provided, then the NAA will issue an operational authorisation.

How to SORA – useful links

Predefined Risk Assessment - PDRA

As an alternative to the SORA risk assessment, it may be used a predefined risk assessment (PDRA).

For additional information please contact the team.

EASA Website create accountStay informed on SORA:

  1. Create an EASA account
  2. Follow the category "Civil drones (Unmanned aircraft)"
  3. Decide how you want to be notified