An Independent Study Demonstrates that VECTOR-600 is Ready for Operations up to SAIL IV

The operational envelope defines the operational risk profile within which an aircraft can operate safely, taking into consideration all risk mitigations included within the system. By means of an independent study conducted by a recognized aerospace institute, UAV Navigation has defined the operational envelope of the VECTOR-600 autopilot based on the Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) methodology.

The SORA methodology evaluates the safety risks involved with the operation of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) of any class, size or type of operation. The Concept of Operation (ConOps) is normally used as the input for this analysis; the output takes the form of the Specific Assurance and Integrity Level (SAIL) for a particular operation, which indicates the level of robustness which must be demonstrated for the Operational Safety Objectives (OSOs).

In this case, however, instead of performing a conventional SORA analysis from the ConOps to the SAIL output, this study was performed the other way round. This was because the objective of the study was to identify the operational envelope of the system.

Taking as an example operations in accordance with SAIL III or IV, EUROCAE ED- 280 recommends to any operator, including operations carried out by manufacturers of UAVs, a detailed definition of different mission and platform points: the ConOps, the entire UAS architecture including functions, systems, and
implementation, identification and classification of failure conditions; verification that safety objectives are fulfilled and a complete probable failure analysis using FMEA-like techniques and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA).

In order to help our clients with this process, especially for the fulfillment of OSO#5 and Step#9 of the SORA, UAV Navigation has prepared an FMECA and FTA analysis performed by a third-party and independent company on the VECTOR-600 autopilot and its onboard sensor suite, the POLAR-300. The study concludes that there is no catastrophic failure with a criticality number corresponding to a probable failure. In other words, within the operational envelope of the VECTOR- 600, any failure – however remote the probability – is highly unlikely to result in a catastrophic outcome, such as the loss of the aircraft.

As previously mentioned, the operational envelope of the VECTOR-600 autopilot has been determined by following an inverse study of the SORA methodology. The conclusions reached indicate that the system is perfectly suited to the following operations (including appropriate restrictions where applicable):

  1. VLOS operations.
  2. VLOS/BVLOS in a controlled ground area.
  3. BVLOS VLL in rural areas in uncontrolled airspace.
  4. BVLOS in FL>600.
  5. BVLOS in urban áreas.

Following this exhaustive analysis to define the operational envelope of UAV Navigation’s VECTOR-600 flight control computer, the system has proved its robustness and suitability for safe operations over a wide range of missions usually performed by professional UAS.

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