Drone milestone: The first Hungarian LUC license “landed”
Thoughts from Róbert Bors, managing director of Geolayer Kft
08. 04. 2022.
Even internationally, it is rare to meet a LUC-certified industrial drone aerial survey company. What exactly is LUC (Light UAS Operator Cerfiticate)? Who was the first in Hungary to receive this permit and what is needed for that? – We got an answer to all of this recently during our conversation with Róbert Bors.
What is LUC and why is it so important?
If the planned operation exhausts the limits that can be performed in the open category, the operation can be implemented in a special category, which requires an operating license, or a LUC (Lightweight Operator Certificate) procedure has to be applied. The main difference between the operating license and the LUC certification is to be found in the location of the operation and the structure of the organization. In the former, the permit is tied to a fixed location and can be requested by anyone, while the latter is not tied to a fixed location, a legal entity can apply and a manual is required that ensures the requirements and possible risks of using and operating the drone, furthermore, the structure of the organization ensures safe operation.
Obtaining a LUC permit requires a lot of preparation and several months of time from the applying company. The procedure was not an easy task for Róbert Bors either, as he said that the entire licensing process took almost 1 year and then involved 300 pages of documentation. In the end, they were the first in Hungary to receive this permit, which is very difficult to obtain.
“Obtaining a permit and a certificate is not easy, in fact; it required and requires very thorough preparation and close cooperation with the authority. But this ensures the maximum safe execution of UAS operations,” said Róbert Bors.
The most important element of having a certificate is therefore to guarantee a safe operation and to minimize risks both on the ground and in the air. The documentation covers maintenance, the organizational structure of the LUC-licensed legal entity, the post analysis of the resulting operational events, and a number of other risk mitigation measures, such as making the use of a parachute mandatory in operations overpopulated areas. The LUC permit can be checked and even revoked at any time and the possession of the license is followed by a strict audit every 3 months, so GeoLayer Kft. must regularly provide the authorities with the opportunity to do so, which can mean a full working day, combined with an on-site operational inspection.
What is it good for in practice?
In practice, Geolayer issues its own operating license and guarantees safe operations, so there is no need for a separate regulatory approval process. If they receive a request and an assignment for a task in the LUC certificate, they can carry it out. It is important to emphasize that they can only perform activities that are included in the LUC certificate! Thus, a company that has submitted its permit for a survey of a vineyard, and it includes the risks and operating methods of that activity, they cannot carry out a survey of solar panels, for example.
Don’t even need an ad hoc airspace permit?
An ad hoc airspace application must still be submitted in accordance with the 4/1998 (I.16.) Government Decree pursuant to section 1. §(3) on the use of Hungarian airspace, in particular if an operation over a populated area would be carried out. Unfortunately, the solution is time-consuming in many cases, as it is advisable to submit such permits earlier than 30 days as required by law, or even 40-45 days in advance. We agreed with Róbert Bors that the adjustment / refinement of the regulation may be justified, but the UTM solutions under development and some drone initiatives may solve this soon.
Summary – Great benefit and responsibility at the same time
The essence of LUC is not to be found in the existence of the certification, rather in the risk mitigation solutions it creates and in the awareness of the drone operation by the organization. Unfortunately, drones are currently not used with due care by many companies and individuals, significantly increasing the risk of accidents. Many examples are known of operations in which a remote pilot buys a drone and sends it into the air without any knowledge, either up to 500 meters above the ground (AGL) or out of sight (BVLOS), or flying the device 3-5 km away from the remote pilot.
In addition to complying with the law, the conscious use of the drone and the formation of a social attitude are very important. Even if not to LUC level depth, but from a flight perspective, we recommend that you think through the operational risks and, if an incident has occurred, even an accident, draw conclusions and work along them.
The added value of using drones is being proven in more and more industries. Almost any construction work can be carried out in a shorter time, while the safety conditions can be fully met. The availability of the LUC certificate is, in fact, a steppingstone in the efficiency of construction drone air services (road construction planning, land mass calculation, or even drone air surveys of junctions, overpasses, bridges). In addition to construction utilization, the thermal camera diagnostics of solar parks, among others, can be enhanced in the possession of a LUC.
More detailed information about the activities of GeoLayer Kft. is available at the following links:
- Drónos légi szolgáltatások és drónos légi felmérések (geolayer.eu)
- Megfelelni a szigorú dróntörvénynek? A magyar építőiparban már megvan a megoldás! | Magyar Építők (magyarepitok.hu)
Author: Benjamin Holló, eNET’s UAS / UTM expert colleague
Photo credit: Geolayer Kft.