Brazil, Colombia Institute New Rules for Remotely-Piloted Aircraft
By Dialogo February 12, 2016
In conjunction with advancements in technology and increased use of Remotely-Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Brazil and Colombia are modernizing their rules regarding the use of such devices in civilian and Military engagements.
Brazil issued a set of rules, called the Instructions to the Aviation Command (ICA) 100-40, in November 2015 with the primary goal of ensuring safe and coordinated operations between manned aircraft and RPA. ICA 100-40 clarifies the necessary procedures for RPA flights, sets the parameters and technical framework for each aircraft, and describes the rules for RPA in motion, explained Aviation Lieutenant Colonel Sandro Bernardon, commanding officer of the Horus Squadron, the unit responsible for the Brazilian Air Force's (FAB) RPA fleet.
ICA 100-40 establishes speed and altitude limits for aircraft, depending on its maximum takeoff weight – the highest weight at which an aircraft is certified for safe takeoff. The instructions also set the limitations on using RPA in populated areas or those with concentrations of persons. For flights under these conditions, specific requirements must be met.
The registration of RPA through the National Civil Aviation Agency is currently the same as before, but this may change as the agency is updating its database and considering requiring more information. In addition, to make the RPA operational, requests for takeoff must be made through the Airspace Control Department, under the Aviation Command, the agency that issued the ICA 100-40.
ICA 100-40 is valid for civilian and Military remotely-piloted aircraft, when either operates in civilian air space. However, for flights in strictly Military operations – such as trainings and missions – normally, there is an established Area of Operations, which has its own specific rules for coordination and safety.
“Air traffic and civilian aircraft control agencies comply with these rules and, under those circumstances, ICA 100-40 does not apply to Military RPAs,” Lt. Col. Bernardon added.
Colombia also reviewing its rules
Colombia also recently renewed its rules for RPA flights in its airspace. In July 2015, Colombia published Regulation Circular No. 002, which creates and lists general requirements for air navigability, which is the necessary technical requirements for an RPA to be considered capable of traversing Colombian skies safely. The document also defines flight parameters, including the minimum distance from persons and buildings, speed and altitude limits, and the maximum weight for aircraft.
While it applies only to civilians, the regulations published by the Colombian Civil Aeronautics Administrative Department follow the guidance provided by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations agency responsible for safe and orderly development of civil aviation worldwide. Colombia is a member of the ICAO, as is Brazil, whose ICA 100-40 is also based on those international regulations.
“The ICAO issued a series of recommendations and time frames to advance regulations on the use of remotely-piloted aircraft by 2018,” the Colombian Air Force (FAC) Press Office said in an email interview.
Colombia’s rules for Military operations with unmanned aerial vehicles are defined by the FAC. Last year, the FAC updated its Colombian Aeronautics Regulations for Government Aviation, a document that deals with aviation performed using aircraft – including remotely-piloted ones – by the Military, the customs service, and the police.
“Tactical, operational, and strategic levels of operation were established, forming the basis for parameters on maximum weights for RPA, limitation on altitude, speed, and authorized air space, always with an eye on operation security,” the FAC Press Office said regarding the part of the regulations that address RPA.
Military missions expand their use of RPA
In Brazil and Colombia, RPA have been vital to expanding the scope of Military missions. Colombia has used RPA for 10 years.
“We developed means to protect the country’s critical infrastructure (oil pipelines, ground roads, electronic systems, etc.) and we perform operations for search and rescue, the identification of areas affected by illegal mining, and the protection of national parks, among other environmental protection activities,” stated the FAC Press Office, adding it could not reveal how many RPA it has.
The FAB has a fleet of five RPA, which are under the command of the Horus Squadron, created in 2011 and headquartered at the Santa Maria Air Base in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. There are four Hermes 450 aircraft and a Hermes 900.
These RPA are equipped with sensors for monitoring, reconnaissance, and surveillance, and have been used in defense and security missions. For example, they were used during the 2014 Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup to monitor heavy foot traffic areas, sending real-time images to a control center where they were received by defense professionals.
In 2016, the Horus Squadron aircraft will also participate in security efforts for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “We will use the same techniques and tactics that we used in the past, based on our rules and operational agreements,” Lt. Col. Bernardon stated.
I believe itâ€™s an excellent way to keep the Latin American Armed Forces in contact to exchange experiences and generate doctrine which favors each one of the countries The time for Brazil to develop its own drones and to create technology for them is nigh. Due to the near inexistence of a navy capable of protecting our "Blue Amazonia," surveillance drones and the deterrent power should be priorities. Very good reporting, but could omit the number of RPA Brazil has due to matters of national security.