Chapter 3 Roles and Responsibilities
3.3 Remote Pilot in Command
The RPIC of the UAS shall be the person who as the final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of an sUAS operation as described by 14 CFR 107.19 for sUAS or 14 CFR 91.3 for UAS when operating as Public Aircraft or under the Section 333 Grant of Exemption.
The RPIC has ultimate responsibility for the safe operation of the UAS. As a result, the RPIC has the final decision on whether to initiate or terminate any flight.
3.3.1 Duties and Responsibilities
- The RPIC will evaluate each UAS activity in detail prior to operation. It is the responsibility of the RPIC to recognize and refuse any UAS activity that in the RPIC’s judgment is not safe. The RPIC’s word is final as to whether the UAS activity is feasible and can be conducted in a safe and efficient manner.
- The RPIC must understand the UAS activity and have all applicable maps, charts and manuals available while on-site. Additionally, the RPIC is required to be aware of weather forecasts, winds, hazards, temporary flight restrictions, and all pertinent information necessary to perform the UAS activity.
- The RPIC is responsible for ensuring that all documentation has been completed, submitted and accepted, including submission of the UAS Activity Request Form, filing of any necessary notices, and any necessary flight plans or safety mitigation analysis.
- It is the responsibility of the RPIC to ensure that he or she has current and sufficient experience with the UAS to be utilized in the non-standard UAS operation.
- The RPIC must have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating issued pursuant to subpart C of 14 CFR Part 107, or any other certificate or license required for the operation being conducted.
- The RPIC must maintain an understanding of the normal, abnormal and emergency procedures of the UAS.
- The RPIC must maintain an appropriate level of understanding of the operating flight rules in the airspace where the UAS operations will occur.
3.4 Visual Observer
A Visual Observer is a person designated by the RPIC to assist the RPIC and the person manipulating the flight controls of the UAS to see and avoid other air traffic or objects aloft or on the ground.
3.4.1 Duties and Responsibilities
- A Visual Observer is responsible for assisting the RPIC in maintaining situational awareness and complying with `see-and-avoid’ by scanning the area around the UAS for potentially conflicting traffic or other hazards to the safety of the flight.
- A Visual Observer will maintain verbal contact with the RPIC at all times and be able to advise the RPIC of any hazards that arise during flight. Intermittent forms of communications (texting, email, messaging systems) are not acceptable means of compliance. A cell-phone is acceptable if the connection was made prior to launch and is connected through the duration of the flight.
- A Visual Observer shall maintain visual contact with the aircraft and maintain visual lookout for any airborne or ground-based threats in accordance with 14 CFR 107.31 or other FAA requirement.
- The Visual Observer must maintain an appropriate level of understanding of the operating flight rules in the airspace where the UAS operations will occur.
- The Visual Observer must maintain an understanding of the normal, abnormal and emergency procedures of the UAS.
3.5 Ground Support Personnel
A Ground Support Personnel is any person with an assigned responsibility to ensure the safety of the UAS activity but not tasked as the RPIC, Visual Observer, or Payload Operator.
3.5.1 Duties and Responsibilities
- A Ground Support Personnel is responsible for assisting the RPIC in maintaining situational awareness, providing ground support and other activity to ensure the safety of the flight.
- A Ground Support Personnel may be tasked with supporting launch and recovery operations
- A Ground Support Personnel may be tasked with preventing non-participants from entering the flight area
- A Ground Support Personnel may be tasked with interacting with curious bystanders or spectators
3.6 Point of Contact or Operation Manager
The Point of Contact or Operation Manager is responsible for the oversight of the UAS activity. The Point of Contact must be documented for all UAS activity. The Point of Contact may also be the RPIC.
3.7 Payload Operator (optional)
During UAS activity that might require more complex aerial work, and when the sensor (e.g., camera systems, gimbal) requires the use of a dedicated personnel, the RPIC will be assisted by a Payload Operator. The Payload Operator will be responsible for remotely controlling the movements of camera systems on-board the UAS.
The Payload Operator does not have the authority to require the RPIC to maneuver the aircraft in any unsafe manner or in any manner that violates Federal Regulations.
No one may act as a Payload Operator unless they have read and familiarized themselves with the contents of this SOPA, as well as any additional manuals for the specific payload to be operated.