Chapter 10 Emergency Operations

The recommended procedures for addressing various types of emergencies and critical situations are provided by this Section and in the Manufacturer’s Manual. These procedures are suggested as the best practice for coping with the particular conditions described, but are not a substitute for sound judgment and common sense. All personnel, including the RPIC, VO(s) and all Ground Crew engaged in UAS activity under this SOPA should familiarize themselves with the general procedures given in this Section and the Manufacturer’s Manual and be prepared to take appropriate action should an emergency arise.

10.1 General Emergency Planning

It is required that all UAS activity under this SOPA have a completed emergency procedure plan. A template can be found in UC Drone Resources.

Required Emergency Plans

  • Non-participating person incursion in flight area
  • Hazardous Weather Conditions
  • Low Battery or UAS Status Issue
  • COllision with Hazard
  • Fly Away or Loss of GPS
  • Lost link or C2 link failure
  • In-Flight or Post-Flight Fire
  • Pilot Incapacitation
  • Manned Aircraft Encroachment in flight area

All operations require the RPIC to designate a lost link/emergency termination zones prior to UAS activity. The RPIC retains the right to change or modify that selection if potentially unsafe conditions exist. These zones may be the same location or different locations, depending on the needs of the mission.

The RPIC shall take all necessary actions to ensure that the launch and recover of the unmanned aircraft does not present a hazard to persons and property on the ground. The RPIC, VO and any Ground Crew will take all reasonable actions to ensure all non-essential personnel and nonparticipating persons remain at least 10 feet laterally away from landing zones, including emergency landing zones, while the unmanned aircraft is taking off or landing.

10.2 General Emergency Procedures

The RPIC is responsible for ensuring flight safety and is responsible for making any assessment in regards to flight safety. If the RPIC is incapacitated for any reason, the responsibility goes to the Visual Observer, unless an alternate has been selected.

In an emergency situation involving the safety of persons or property, which requires immediate decisions and actions, the RPIC or any other appropriate Ground Crew member may take action that is considered necessary under the circumstances to ensure safety.

If, for any reason, the UAS needs to conduct an emergency landing, flight crew personnel, such as the VO or other supporting ground crew will take actions to immediately warn people on the ground below where the unmanned aircraft is operating and alert the RPIC of any potential hazards so that the RPIC can take appropriate action to ensure safe operations of the flight. They must also immediately warn people on the ground below where the unmanned aircraft is operating of any potential hazards associated with the UAS activity.

The RPIC may deviate from prescribed operations procedures and methods, weather minimums, regulations, this Manual, etc., to the extent necessary, in the interest of safety.

A member of the Flight Crew, typically the Visual Observer, shall keep the appropriate ATC facilities fully informed when an in-flight UAS emergency could potentially impact operations of aircraft in navigable air space.