Challenges and principles

The remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM) sectors are rapidly evolving. While the roadmap charts a long-term vision for the safety regulation of these sectors, there remains uncertainty about the longer-term needs.

The defining challenges of the RPAS and AAM sectors are:

  • Diversity – the sector spans aircraft of unique types, sizes, and with varying degrees of complexity.

  • Pace of innovation – these sectors are rapidly evolving, and there is a high pace of innovation across technology and concepts of operation.

  • Scale – the number of RPAS operating in Australia is greater than the number of existing airspace users combined. The size of the AAM sector is expected to follow a similar trend to RPAS.

  • Disruptive – these technologies differ from traditional approaches to aviation. The aviation ecosystem will need to adapt to accommodate these technologies and ensure their safe integration.

  • Autonomy – automation and human machine interactions are expected to be important in supporting sector growth, however these technologies also pose great regulatory challenges that need to be monitored and addressed.

To address the challenges posed by these sectors, the activities in the roadmap are guided by the following principles:

  • Safety first – safety must be placed first. The roadmap has been designed to deliver acceptable levels of safety performance for all aviation operations.

  • Risk and outcome-based – greater flexibility is achieved through a legislative structure that is outcome-based. Regulations should not prescribe solutions. Regulation and oversight should also be proportionate to the safety hazards and associated risks being managed.

  • Adaptive and scalable – the legislative structure needs to be able to be responsive to changing risk profiles and the dynamic needs of evolving sectors. It should also account for the size of the sector and pragmatic constraints, such as available regulatory resources.

  • Progressive and internationally aligned – the regulatory framework will be phased in its development and implementation, while remaining consistent with a longer-term vision. It should seek to align with, adopt or adapt international standards and regulations where beneficial in the Australian context. It should also consider appropriate alignment with Australia’s defence aviation safety regulations.

  • Balanced and socially responsible – the framework should achieve the required safety outcomes with consideration for the cost burden imposed on industry, while also accounting for broader community interests and expectations.

Published date: 3 June 2022
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