Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS

UAG Test Prep 8 - Operations

Emergency planning and communication (UA.V.C.K1) 

Remote pilot sUAS study guide


An inflight emergency is usually an unexpected and unforeseen event that can have serious consequences for an unprepared remote pilot. During an emergency, a remote pilot is permitted to deviate from any part of 14 CFR part 107 to respond to the emergency. When a remote pilot does deviate from a rule due to an emergency, the remote will report the emergency if asked to do so by the FAA (also referred to as “the Administrator”).


Inflight Emergency

A remote pilot is responsible for the safe operation of the small UA at all times. A remote pilot must ensure that the aircraft is in a safe operating condition before flight, that there is not any hazard to persons or property, and that all required crew members are properly briefed on the operation and emergency procedures.

Before every flight, a remote pilot will conduct a preflight inspection of the aircraft. If any irregularities’ are found in the inspection, they must be corrected before the small UA is operated. Some small UA manufacturers will provide the remote pilot with preflight inspection items. For those small UAs that do not have a manufacturer checklist, the remote should develop a checklist that will provide enough information that the aircraft will be operated in a safe condition.

When a remote pilot does experience an inflight emergency, the pilot may take any action to ensure that there is not a hazard to other people or property. For example, if during a flight the small UA experiences as battery fire, the remote pilot may need to climb the small UA above 400’ AGL to maneuver to a safe landing area. In this instance, a report will need to be made only if asked to do so by the FAA.

When other crew members are used during a flight, all of those crew members must be briefed on the flight and the planned emergency procedures for the flight. The briefing will be given to any visual observers (VO) that might be used and any non-certificated person who is allowed to manipulate the flight controls of the small UA.

For more information about emergencies, refer to 14 CFR part 107 and AC 107-2. 


6.1 Applicability. This chapter provides guidance regarding the airman certification requirements and procedures for persons acting as remote pilot in command (PIC) of a small UA operated in the National Airspace System (NAS). In the aviation context, the FAA typically refers to “licensing” as “certification.”

6.2 Remote Pilot Certification. A person exercising the authority of PIC in compliance with part 107 is considered a “remote pilot in command” (remote PIC). As such, prior to acting as remote PIC, he or she must obtain a remote pilot certificate with an sUAS rating. 


Sample UAG Exam Question 13

When using a small UA in a commercial operation, who is responsible for briefing the participants about emergency procedures?

  1. The FAA inspector-in-charge.
  2. The lead visual observer.
  3. The remote PIC.

PLT441 / UA.V.C.K1 Emergency planning and communication.



Sample UAG Exam Question 14

To avoid a possible collision with a manned airplane, you estimate that your small UA climbed to an altitude greater than 600 feet AGL. To whom must you report the deviation?

  1. Air Traffic Control.
  2. The National Transportation Safety Board.
  3. Upon request of the Federal Aviation Administration.

PLT403 / UA.V.C.K1 Emergency planning and communication. 

The characteristics and potential hazards of lithium batteries (UA.V.C.K2) 

Safe transportation, such as proper inspection and handling (UA.V.C.K2a) 

SAFO 15010

A SAFO contains important safety information and may include recommended action. SAFO content should be especially valuable to air carriers in meeting their statutory duty to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety in the public interest. Besides the specific action recommended in a SAFO, an alternative action may be as effective in addressing the safety issue named in the SAFO.

Subject: Carriage of Spare Lithium Batteries in Carry-on and Checked Baggage

Purpose: This SAFO provides information to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 119 certificate holders and part 129 foreign air carriers on carriage of spare lithium batteries in passenger and crewmember personal carry-on and checked baggage including carry-on baggage checked at the gate or from on-board an aircraft.

Note: For this SAFO, “spare” refers to lithium batteries not installed in a portable electronic device.

Discussion: Lithium batteries present a risk of both igniting and fueling fires in aircraft cargo/baggage compartments. To reduce the risk of lithium battery fires, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR), and equivalent International Civil Aviation Organization’s Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods (ICAO TI), prohibit spare lithium batteries from checked baggage (including baggage checked at the gate or on-board the aircraft). The HMR and ICAO TI provide limited exceptions for passengers/crewmembers who carry-on spare lithium batteries intended for personal use (refer to 49 CFR § 175.10).

Recommended Action: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly urges certificate holders to consider the following actions:

  • Ensure all crewmembers and ground personnel handling passengers and baggage understand that they must report incidents where fire, violent rupture, explosion, or heat sufficient to be dangerous to packaging or personal safety to include charring of packaging, melting of packaging, scorching of packaging, or other evidence, occurs as a result of a battery or battery-powered device (per 49 CFR §171.15/16).
  • During ticket purchase and check-in processes, inform passengers that spare lithium batteries are prohibited from checked baggage (including checked baggage at the gate) and refer passengers to FAA’s Pack Safe website for additional information.
  • Evaluate training and communication protocols in operations with respect to lithium batteries, personal and medical electronic devices, and mobility aids.
  • Prior to allowing a passenger or crewmember to offer their carry-on baggage to be checked from the gate or on-board the aircraft, verbally inform them to remove all spare lithium batteries from their carry-on baggage.
  • For spare lithium batteries in carry-on baggage, ensure personnel understand the following:
    • Each spare lithium battery must be individually protected so as to prevent short circuits (e.g., by placement in original retail packaging, by otherwise insulating terminals by taping over exposed terminals, or placing each battery in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch).
    • Spare batteries must not come in contact with metal objects, such as coins, keys, or jewelry and take steps to prevent crushing, puncturing, or pressure on the battery.
    • Batteries must not exceed the allowable quantity and size limitations (refer to 49 CFR § 175.10).

Contact: Questions or comments regarding this SAFO should be directed to the FAA Office of Hazardous Materials, ADG-200 at 202-267-9432.

Safe charging (UA.V.C.K2b) 

Safe usage (UA.V.C.K2c) 

Risks of fires involving lithium batteries (UA.V.C.K2d) 


B.5 Battery Fires. Lithium-based batteries are highly flammable and capable of ignition.

A battery fire could cause an in-flight emergency by causing a LOC of the small UA. Lithium battery fires can be caused when a battery short circuits, is improperly charged, is heated to extreme temperatures, is damaged as a result of a crash, is mishandled, or is simply defective. The remote PIC should consider following the manufacturer’s recommendations, when available, to help ensure safe battery handling and usage.


SAFO 10017

A SAFO contains important safety information and may include recommended action. SAFO content should be especially valuable to air carriers in meeting their statutory duty to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety in the public interest. Besides the specific action recommended in a SAFO, an alternative action may be as effective in addressing the safety issue named in the SAFO.

Subject: Risks in Transporting Lithium Batteries in Cargo by Aircraft

Purpose: To alert operators to the recent findings from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) William Hughes Technical Center testing results from April 2010 to September 2010. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the FAA, is considering the best course of action to address the risk posed by lithium batteries. In the interim, carriers should consider adopting the actions recommended at the end of this document.

Background: Lithium batteries are currently classified as Class 9 materials under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) (49 CFR 180 185). Nonetheless, most lithium batteries and devices are currently classified as excepted from the Class 9 provisions of the HMR. Because of this exception, they do not require a Notice to the Pilot in Command (NOTOC) to alert the crew of their presence on-board an aircraft.

Testing conducted by the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center (FAA Tech Center) indicates that particular propagation characteristics are associated with lithium batteries.

Overheating has the potential to create thermal runaway, a chain reaction leading to self-heating and release of a battery’s stored energy. In a fire situation, the air temperature in a cargo compartment fire may be above the auto-ignition temperature of lithium. For this reason, batteries that are not involved in an initial fire may ignite and propagate, thus creating a risk of a catastrophic event. The existence and magnitude of the risk will depend on such factors as the total number and type of batteries on board an aircraft, the batteries’ proximity to one another, and existing risk mitigation measures in place (including the type of fire suppression system on an aircraft, appropriate packaging and stowage of batteries, and compliance with existing requirements contained within both FAA and PHMSA regulations).

We note as well that United Parcel Service Flight 006 crashed in the United Arab Emirates on September 3, 2010. Investigation of the crash is still underway, and the cause of the crash has not been determined. We are aware, however, that the plane’s cargo did include large quantities of lithium batteries and believe it prudent to advise operators of that fact.

Discussion of Continued Research: The FAA Tech Center has continued its research into lithium battery fires and the packaging, processes, and systems that can mitigate lithium battery fires aboard aircraft.

Past findings related to lithium battery research have been published in the following FAA Technical Center Reports:  

DOT/FAA/AR-06/38 – Flammability Assessment of Bulk-Packed, Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Cells in Transport Category Aircraft

DOT/FAA/AR-04/26—Flammability Assessment of Bulk-Packed, Nonrechargeable Lithium Primary Batteries in Transport Category Aircraft

DOT/FAA/AR-09/55 –Flammability Assessment of Lithium-Ion and Lithium-Ion Polymer Battery Cells Designed for Aircraft Power Usage


Lithium metal batteries are highly flammable and capable of ignition. Ignition of lithium metal batteries can be caused when a battery short circuits, is overcharged, is heated to extreme temperatures, is mishandled, or is otherwise defective. Once a cell is induced into thermal runaway, either by internal failure or by external means such as heating or physical damage, it generates sufficient heat to cause adjacent cells to go into thermal runaway. The result of thermal runaway in a lithium metal cell is a more severe event as compared to a lithium-ion cell in thermal runaway. The lithium metal cell releases a flammable electrolyte mixed with molten lithium metal, accompanied by a large pressure pulse. The combination of flammable electrolyte and the molten lithium metal can result in an explosive mixture. Halon 1301, the suppression agent found in Class C cargo compartments, is ineffective in controlling a lithium metal cell fire.

The explosive potential of lithium metal cells can easily damage (and potentially perforate) cargo liners, or activate the pressure relief panels in a cargo compartment. Either of these circumstances can potentially lead to a loss of Halon 1301, allowing rapid fire spread within a cargo compartment to other flammable materials. For this reason, lithium metal cells are currently prohibited as bulk cargo shipments on passenger carrying aircraft.

FAA testing has shown that encased or enclosed lithium metal batteries may pose a safety risk. Two types of robust, readily available containers were tested at the FAA Tech Center: five gallon steel pails with crimp on gasketed lids, and 30 gallon steel drums with bolt closed ring seals and gasketed metal lids. For both types of container, as few as six loose CR2 lithium metal cells were sufficient to cause failure when induced into thermal runaway by an electric cartridge heater. The confined electrolyte and the molten lithium ignition source formed an explosive condition, forcefully separating the lid from the container. The explosive force in this test was likely high enough to cause physical damage to an aircraft’s Class C cargo compartment.

A container specially designed to ship lithium metal batteries would need to demonstrate that it can withstand this explosive condition. There are currently no approved and tested containers that can sufficiently contain the known effects of accidental lithium metal battery ignition. Common metal shipping containers, pails and drums, are not designed to withstand a lithium metal cell fire.

Our test results have also demonstrated that lithium-ion cells are flammable and capable of self-ignition. Self-ignition of lithium-ion batteries can occur when a battery short circuits, is overcharged, is heated to extreme temperatures, is mishandled, or is otherwise defective. Like lithium metal batteries, lithium-ion batteries can be subject to thermal runaway. A battery in thermal runaway can reach temperatures above 1,100 degrees F, which exceeds the ignition temperature of most Class A materials, including paper and cardboard. These temperatures are also very close to the melting point of aluminum (1,220 degrees F). The fire suppression system in Class C compartments, Halon 1301, has been shown to be effective in suppressing fires generated by lithium-ion batteries, but does not eliminate the risk of transporting such batteries.


The complete results of the FAA Tech Center’s study, reported in summary form here, will be made available to the public and for peer review in the near future. The study has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Additional Research: The FAA Tech Center will continue research on improved cell separator materials to stop or slow down thermal runaway propagation. In addition, the Tech Center will research packaging materials to adequately control the properties lithium batteries exhibit in a fire condition. These methods, results, and findings will be subject to peer review.

Rulemaking: PHMSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) (75 FR 1302, January 11, 2010) with proposals to reduce the risks associated with the air transport of lithium batteries, and has submitted a final rule based on the NPRM to OMB for review. The Department of Transportation is concerned about the risk that lithium batteries pose to aviation safety in the event of an onboard fire. As a result of this concern, PHMSA and FAA are considering additional appropriate actions to address these safety risks.

The FAA and PHMSA have determined that carriers can now take prudent steps to reduce the risk that lithium batteries pose, which is why the FAA is issuing this safety alert.

Recommended Action: It is recommended that all air carriers institute additional procedures for safely transporting lithium batteries by aircraft:

1) Request customers to identify bulk shipments of currently excepted lithium batteries by information on airway bills and other documents provided by shippers offering shipments of lithium batteries.

2) Where feasible and appropriate, stow bulk shipments of lithium batteries in Class C cargo compartments or in locations where alternative fire suppression is available.

3) Evaluate the training, stowage, and communication protocols in your operation with respect to the transportation of lithium batteries in the event of an unrelated fire.

4) Pay special attention to ensuring careful handling and compliance with existing regulations covering the air transportation of Class 9 hazardous materials, including lithium batteries.


These recommendations are limited to lithium batteries transported in the cargo hold of an aircraft (including cargo holds that are not distinct from the flight deck), and do not apply to lithium batteries carried onboard by passengers and crewmembers, or otherwise stowed in the passenger cabin of the aircraft. These recommendations are not exclusive; we hope that carriers will use the information provided here and in our Tech Center study, together with any other available information, to consider other reasonable measures they believe appropriate to mitigate the risk of transporting lithium batteries by air.

Contact: Questions or comments concerning this SAFO should be directed to the FAA Office of Hazardous Materials, ADG-200 at 202-385-4897.

Damaged lithium batteries can cause

(SAFO 10017)

  • A change in aircraft center of gravity
  • An inflight fire
  • Increased endurance

SAFO 09013

A SAFO contains important safety information and may include recommended action. SAFO content should be especially valuable to air carriers in meeting their statutory duty to provide service with the highest possible degree of safety in the public interest. Besides the specific action recommended in a SAFO, an alternative action may be as effective in addressing the safety issue named in the SAFO.

Subject: Fighting Fires Caused By Lithium Type Batteries in Portable Electronic Devices

Purpose: To recommend procedures for fighting fires caused by lithium type batteries in portable electronic devices (PED).

Background: The two types of batteries commonly used to power consumer PEDs brought on aircraft are lithium batteries (disposable) and lithium-ion batteries (rechargeable). Both these types are capable of ignition and subsequent explosion due to overheating. Overheating results in thermal runaway, which can cause the release of either molten burning lithium or a flammable electrolyte. Once one cell in a battery pack goes into thermal runaway, it produces enough heat to cause adjacent cells to go into thermal runaway. The resulting fire can flare repeatedly as each cell ruptures and releases its contents.

Discussion: Based on testing by the Fire Safety Branch of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center, the following procedures are recommended for fighting a fire of a lithium-type-battery powered PED. The procedures consist of two phases:

(1) extinguishing the fire, and (2) cooling the remaining cells to stop thermal runaway.

(1) Utilize a Halon, Halon replacement or water extinguisher to extinguish the fire and prevent its spread to additional flammable materials.

(2) After extinguishing the fire, douse the device with water or other non-alcoholic liquids to cool the device and prevent additional battery cells from reaching thermal runaway.

WARNING: Do not attempt to pick up and move a smoking or burning device! Bodily injury may result.

WARNING: Do not cover the device or use ice to cool the device. Ice or other materials insulate the device, increasing the likelihood that additional battery cells will reach thermal runaway.

Reference Materials: The following are additional information related to lithium-type battery fires:

Additional information on lithium-type battery fires 

The FAA has developed a training video to demonstrate effective techniques for fighting lithium-type battery fires. See the Video on Laptop Battery Fires at

Click on the “Training Videos” link on the lower right of the page.

Recommended Action: Directors of safety, directors of operations, training managers, and crewmembers should collaborate to include these procedures in the operator’s manuals, operations, and training.


Loss of aircraft control link and fly-aways (UA.V.C.K3) 

Loss of Global Positioning System (GPS) signal durng flight and potential consequences (UA.V.C.K4) 

Frequency spectrums and associated limitations (UA.V.C.K5) 


B.6 sUAS Frequency Utilization. An sUAS typically uses radio frequencies (RF) for the communication link between the CS and the small UA.

1. Frequency spectrum (RF) Basics. The 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz systems are the unlicensed band RFs that most sUAS use for the connection between the CS and the small UA. Note the frequencies are also used for computer wireless networks and the interference can cause problems when operating a UA in an area (e.g., dense housing and office buildings) that has many wireless signals. LOC and flyaways are some of the reported problems with sUAS frequency implications.


• To avoid frequency interference, many modern sUAS operate using a 5.8 GHz system to control the small UA and a 2.4 GHz system to transmit video and photos to the ground. Consult the sUAS operating manual and manufacturers recommended procedures before conducting sUAS operations.


• It should be noted that both RF bands (2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz) are considered line of sight and the command and control link between the CS and the small UA will not work properly when barriers are between the CS and the UA. Part 107 requires the remote PIC or person manipulating the controls to be able to see the UA at all times, which should also help prevent obstructions from interfering with the line of sight frequency spectrum.


2. Spectrum Authorization. Frequency spectrum used for small UA operations are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Radio transmissions, such as those used to control a UA and to downlink real-time video, must use frequency bands that are approved for use by the operating agency. The FCC authorizes civil operations. Some operating frequencies are unlicensed and can be used freely (e.g., 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz) without FCC approval. All other frequencies require a user-specific license for all civil users, except federal agencies, to be obtained from the FCC. For further information, visit

Aeronautical Decision Making (UA.V.D.K1) 


Air Safety Institute Interactive module: Do the Right Thing



5.3 Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM) and Crew Resource Management (CRM). 

ADM is a systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. A remote PIC uses many different resources to safely operate an sUAS and needs to be able to manage these resources effectively. CRM is a component of ADM, where the pilot of sUAS makes effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information. Many remote pilots operating under part 107 may use a VO, oversee other persons manipulating the controls of the small UA, or any other person who the remote PIC may interact with to ensure safe operations. Therefore, a remote PIC must be able to function in a team environment and maximize team performance. This skill set includes situational awareness, proper allocation of tasks to individuals, avoidance of work overloads in self and in others, and effectively communicating with other members of the crew, such as VOs and persons manipulating the controls of an sUAS. Appendix A, Risk Assessment Tools, contains expanded information on ADM and CRM, as well as sample risk assessment tools to aid in identifying hazards and mitigating risks. 



Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Aeronautical decision-making (ADM) is decision-making in a unique environment—aviation. It is a systematic approach to the mental process used by pilots to consistently determine the best course of action in response to a given set of circumstances. It is what a pilot intends to do based on the latest information he or she has.

The importance of learning and understanding effective ADM skills cannot be overemphasized. While progress is continually being made in the advancement of pilot training methods, aircraft equipment and systems, and services for pilots, accidents still occur. Despite all the changes in technology to improve flight safety, one factor remains the same: the human factor which leads to errors. It is estimated that approximately 80 percent of all aviation accidents are related to human factors and the vast majority of these accidents occur during landing (24.1 percent) and takeoff (23.4 percent). [Figure 17-1]

ADM is a systematic approach to risk assessment and stress management. To understand ADM is to also understand how personal attitudes can influence decision-making and how those attitudes can be modified to enhance safety in the flight deck. It is important to understand the factors that cause humans to make decisions and how the decision-making process not only works, but can be improved.

This chapter focuses on helping the pilot improve his or her ADM skills with the goal of mitigating the risk factors associated with flight. Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22, Aeronautical Decision-Making, provides background references, definitions, and other pertinent information about ADM training in the general aviation (GA) environment. [Figure 17-2]

Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

History of ADM

For over 25 years, the importance of good pilot judgment, or aeronautical decision-making (ADM), has been recognized as critical to the safe operation of aircraft, as well as accident avoidance. The airline industry, motivated by the need to reduce accidents caused by human factors, developed the first training programs based on improving ADM. Crew resource management (CRM) training for flight crews is focused on the effective use of all available resources: human resources, hardware, and information supporting ADM to facilitate crew cooperation and improve decision-making. The goal of all flight crews is good ADM and the use of CRM is one way to make good decisions.

Research in this area prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to produce training directed at improving the decision-making of pilots and led to current FAA regulations that require that decision-making be taught as part of the pilot training curriculum. ADM research, development, and testing culminated in 1987 with the publication of six manuals oriented to the decision-making needs of variously rated pilots. These manuals provided multifaceted materials designed to reduce the number of decision related accidents. The effectiveness of these materials was validated in independent studies where student pilots received such training in conjunction with the standard flying curriculum. When tested, the pilots who had received ADM training made fewer inflight errors than those who had not received ADM training. The differences were statistically significant and ranged from about 10 to 50 percent fewer judgment errors. In the operational environment, an operator flying about 400,000 hours annually demonstrated a 54 percent reduction in accident rate after using these materials for recurrency training.

Contrary to popular opinion, good judgment can be taught. Tradition held that good judgment was a natural by-product of experience, but as pilots continued to log accident-free flight hours, a corresponding increase of good judgment was assumed. Building upon the foundation of conventional decision-making, ADM enhances the process to decrease the probability of human error and increase the probability of a safe flight. ADM provides a structured, systematic approach to analyzing changes that occur during a flight and how these changes might affect a flight’s safe outcome. The ADM process addresses all aspects of decision-making in the flight deck and identifies the steps involved in good decision-making.

Steps for good decision-making are:

1. Identifying personal attitudes hazardous to safe flight.

2. Learning behavior modification techniques.

3. Learning how to recognize and cope with stress.

4. Developing risk assessment skills.

5. Using all resources.

6. Evaluating the effectiveness of one’s ADM skills.


Risk management is an important component of ADM. When a pilot follows good decision-making practices, the inherent risk in a flight is reduced or even eliminated. The ability to make good decisions is based upon direct or indirect experience and education.

Consider automotive seat belt use. In just two decades, seat belt use has become the norm, placing those who do not wear seat belts outside the norm, but this group may learn to wear a seat belt by either direct or indirect experience. For example, a driver learns through direct experience about the value of wearing a seat belt when he or she is involved in a car accident that leads to a personal injury. An indirect learning experience occurs when a loved one is injured during a car accident because he or she failed to wear a seat belt.

While poor decision-making in everyday life does not always lead to tragedy, the margin for error in aviation is thin. Since ADM enhances management of an aeronautical environment, all pilots should become familiar with and employ ADM.


Remote pilot sUAS study guide

Risk Management

The goal of risk management is to proactively identify safety-related hazards and mitigate the associated risks. Risk management is an important component of ADM. When a pilot follows good decision-making practices, the inherent risk in a flight is reduced or even eliminated. The ability to make good decisions is based upon direct or indirect experience and education. The formal risk management decision-making process involves six steps as shown in Figure 10-1.

Consider automotive seat belt use. In just two decades, seat belt use has become the norm, placing those who do not wear seat belts outside the norm, but this group may learn to wear a seat belt by either direct or indirect experience. For example, a driver learns through direct experience about the value of wearing a seat belt when he or she is involved in a car accident

that leads to a personal injury. An indirect learning experience occurs when a loved one is injured during a car accident because he or she failed to wear a seat belt. 


As you work through the ADM cycle, it is important to remember the four fundamental principles of risk management.

1. Accept no unnecessary risk. Flying is not possible without risk, but unnecessary risk comes without a corresponding return.

2. Make risk decisions at the appropriate level. Risk decisions should be made by the person who can develop and implement risk controls.

3. Accept risk when benefits outweigh dangers (costs). 

4. Integrate risk management into planning at all levels. Because risk is an unavoidable part of every flight, safety requires the use of appropriate and effective risk management not just in the preflight planning stage, but in all stages of the flight. 


While poor decision-making in everyday life does not always lead to tragedy, the margin for error in aviation is thin. Since ADM enhances management of an aeronautical environment, all pilots should become familiar with and employ ADM. 

Remote pilot sUAS study guide

Hazard and Risk

Two defining elements of ADM are hazard and risk. Hazard is a real or perceived condition, event, or circumstance that a pilot encounters. When faced with a hazard, the pilot makes an assessment of that hazard based upon various factors. The pilot assigns a value to the potential impact of the hazard, which qualifies the pilot’s assessment of the hazard—risk.

Therefore, risk is an assessment of the single or cumulative hazard facing a pilot; however, different pilots see hazards differently. 



During each flight, the single pilot makes many decisions under hazardous conditions. To fly safely, the pilot needs to assess the degree of risk and determine the best course of action to mitigate the risk. 


Assessing Risk

For the single pilot, assessing risk is not as simple as it sounds. For example, the pilot acts as his or her own quality control in making decisions. If a fatigued pilot who has flown 16 hours is asked if he or she is too tired to continue flying, the answer may be “no.” Most pilots are goal oriented and when asked to accept a flight, there is a tendency to deny personal limitations while adding weight to issues not germane to the mission. For example, pilots of helicopter emergency services (EMS) have been known (more than other groups) to make flight decisions that add significant weight to the patient’s welfare. These pilots add weight to intangible factors (the patient in this case) and fail to appropriately quantify actual hazards, such as fatigue or weather, when making flight decisions. The single pilot who has no other crew member for consultation must wrestle with the intangible factors that draw one into a hazardous position. Therefore, he or she has a greater vulnerability than a full crew. 


Mitigating Risk

Risk assessment is only part of the equation.

One of the best ways single pilots can mitigate risk is to use the IMSAFE checklist to determine physical and mental readiness for flying:

  1. Illness—Am I sick? Illness is an obvious pilot risk.

  2. Medication—Am I taking any medicines that might affect my judgment or make me drowsy?

  3. Stress—Am I under psychological pressure from the job? Do I have money, health, or family

    problems? Stress causes concentration and performance problems. While the regulations list medical conditions that require grounding, stress is not among them. The pilot should consider the effects of stress on performance.

  4. Alcohol—Have I been drinking within 8 hours? Within 24 hours? As little as one ounce of liquor, one bottle of beer, or four ounces of wine can impair flying skills. Alcohol also renders a pilot more susceptible to disorientation and hypoxia.

  5. Fatigue—Am I tired and not adequately rested? Fatigue continues to be one of the most insidious hazards to flight safety, as it may not be apparent to a pilot until serious errors are made.

  6. Emotion—Am I emotionally upset? 


A.1 Purpose of this Appendix. The information in this appendix is a presentation of aeronautical decision-making (ADM), Crew Resource Management (CRM), and an example of a viable risk assessment process. This process is used to identify hazards and classify the potential risk that those hazards could present in an operation. It also provides examples of potential criteria for the severity of consequences and likelihood of occurrence that may be used by an sUAS remote pilot in command (PIC). 


A.2 Aeronautical Decision-Making (ADM). The ADM process addresses all aspects of decisionmaking in a solo or crew environment and identifies the steps involved in good decisionmaking. These steps for good decisionmaking are as follows:


A.2.1 Identifying Personal Attitudes Hazardous to Safe Flight. Hazardous attitudes can affect unmanned operations if the remote PIC is not aware of the hazards, leading to such things as: getting behind the aircraft/situation, operating without adequate fuel/battery reserve, loss of positional or situational awareness, operating outside the envelope, and failure to complete all flight planning tasks, preflight inspections, and checklists. Operational pressure is a contributor to becoming subject to these pit-falls.


A.2.2 Learning Behavior Modification Techniques. Continuing to utilize risk assessment procedures for the operation will assist in identifying risk associated with the operation. Conducting an attitude assessment will identify situations where a hazardous attitude may be present.


A.2.3 Learning How to Recognize and Cope with Stress. Stress is ever present in our lives and you may already be familiar with situations that create stress in aviation. However, UAS operations may create stressors that differ from manned aviation. Such examples may include: working with an inexperienced crewmember, lack of standard crewmember training, interacting with the public and city officials, and understanding new regulatory requirements. Proper planning for the operation can reduce or eliminate stress, allowing you to focus more clearly on the operation.


A.2.4 Developing Risk Assessment Skills. As with any aviation operation, identifying associated hazards is the first step. Analyzing the likelihood and severity of the hazards occurring establishes the probability of risk. In most cases, steps can be taken to mitigate, even eliminate, those risks. Actions such as using visual observers (VO), completing a thorough preflight inspection, planning for weather, familiarity with the airspace, proper aircraft loading, and performance planning can mitigate identified risks. Figure A-1, Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Process Chart, is an example of a risk assessment tool. Others are also available for use.


A.2.6 Evaluating the Effectiveness of One’s ADM Skills. Successful decisionmaking is measured by a pilot’s consistent ability to keep himself or herself, any persons involved in the operation, and the aircraft in good condition regardless of the conditions of any given flight. As with manned operations, complacency and overconfidence can be risks, and so there are several checklists and models to assist in the decisionmaking process. Use the IMSAFE checklist to ensure you are mentally and physically prepared for the flight. Use the DECIDE model to help you continually evaluate each operation for hazards and analyze risk. Paragraph A.5.5. and the current edition of AC 60-22, Aeronautical Decision Making, can provide additional information on these models and others.  


A.3 Hazard Identification. Hazards in the sUAS and its operating environment must be identified, documented, and controlled. The analysis process used to define hazards needs to consider all components of the system, based on the equipment being used and the environment it is being operated in. The key question to ask during analysis of the sUAS and its operation is, “what if” sUAS remote PICs are expected to exercise due diligence in identifying significant and reasonably foreseeable hazards related to their operations. 


A.4 Risk Analysis and Assessment. The risk assessment should use a conventional breakdown of risk by its two components: likelihood of occurrence and severity.


A.5 Severity and Likelihood Criteria. There are several tools which could be utilized in determining severity and likelihood when evaluating a hazard. One tool is a risk matrix. Several examples of these are presented in Figure A-2, Safety Risk Matrix Examples. The definitions and construction of the matrix is left to the sUAS remote PIC to design. The definitions of each level of severity and likelihood need to be defined in term that are realistic for the operational environment. This ensures each remote PIC’s decision tools are relevant to their operations and operational environment, recognizing the extensive diversity which exists. An example of severity and likelihood definitions is shown in Table A-1, Sample Severity and Likelihood Criteria.

A.5.1 Risk Acceptance. In the development of risk assessment criteria, sUAS remote PICs are expected to develop risk acceptance procedures, including acceptance criteria and designation of authority and responsibility for risk management decisionmaking. The acceptability of risk can be evaluated using a risk matrix, such as those illustrated in Figure A-2. Table A-2, Safety Risk Matrix – Example shows three areas of acceptability. Risk matrices may be color coded; unacceptable (red), acceptable (green), and acceptable with mitigation (yellow).


A.5.1.1 Unacceptable (Red). Where combinations of severity and likelihood cause risk to fall into the red area, the risk would be assessed as unacceptable and further work would be required to design an intervention to eliminate that associated hazard or to control the factors that lead to higher risk likelihood or severity.


A.5.1.2 Acceptable (Green). Where the assessed risk falls into the green area, it may be accepted without further action. The objective in risk management should always be to reduce risk to as low as practicable regardless of whether or not the assessment shows that it can be accepted as is.


A.5.1.3 Acceptable with Mitigation (Yellow). Where the risk assessment falls into the yellow area, the risk may be accepted under defined conditions of mitigation. An example of this situation would be an assessment of the impact of an sUAS operation near a school yard. Scheduling the operation to take place when school is not in session could be one mitigation to prevent undue risk to the children that study and play there. Another mitigation could be restricting people from the area of operations by placing cones or security personnel to prevent unauthorized access during the sUAS flight operation.

A.5.2 Other Risk Assessment Tools for Flight and Operational Risk Management. Other tools can also be used for flight or operational risk assessments and can be developed by the remote PICs themselves. The key thing is to ensure that all potential hazards and risks are identified and appropriate actions are taken to reduce the risk to persons and property not associated with the operations.


A.5.3 Reducing Risk. Risk analyses should concentrate not only on assigning levels of severity and likelihood, but on determining why these particular levels were selected. This is referred to as root cause analysis, and is the first step in developing effective controls to reduce risk to lower levels. In many cases, simple brainstorming sessions among crewmembers is the most effective and affordable method of finding ways to reduce risk. This also has the advantage of involving people who will ultimately be required to implement the controls developed.


A.5.3.1 It is also very easy to get quite bogged down in trying to identify all hazards and risks. That is not the purpose of a risk assessment. The focus should be upon those hazards which pose the greatest risks. As stated earlier, by documenting and compiling these processes, a remote PIC can build an arsenal of safety practices that will add to the safety and success of future operations.


A.5.4 Sample Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment.

A.5.4.1 Example. I am the remote PIC of an sUAS in the proximity of an accident scene shooting aerial footage. Much like pilots in manned aircraft must adhere to preflight action (part 91, § 91.103), I must adhere to preflight familiarization, inspection, and aircraft operations (§ 107.49). Let’s say that there is an obvious takeoff and landing site that I intend to use. What if, while I am operating a manned aircraft (emergency medical services (EMS) helicopter) requires use of the same area and I am not left with a suitable landing site? Furthermore, I am running low on power. If I consider this situation prior to flight, I can use the Basic Hazard Identification and Mitigation Process. Through this process, I might determine that an acceptable level of risk can be achieved by also having an alternate landing site and possibly additional sites at which I can sacrifice the UA to avoid imposing risk to people on the ground or to manned aircraft operations. It is really a simple process: I must consider the hazards presented during this particular operation, determine the risk severity, and then develop a plan to lessen (or mitigate) the risk to an acceptable level. By documenting and compiling these processes, I can build an arsenal of safety practices that will add to the safety and success of future operations. The following are some proven methods that can help a new remote PIC along the way:


A.5.4.2 Hazard Identification. Using the Personal Minimums (PAVE) Checklist for Risk Management, I will set personal minimums based upon my specific flight experience, health habits, and tolerance for stress, just to name a few. After identifying hazards, I will then input them into the Hazard Identification and Risk Management Process Chart (Figure A-1).


1. Personal: Am I healthy for flight and what are my personal minimums based upon my experience operating this sUAS? During this step, I will often use the IMSAFE checklist in order to perform a more in-depth evaluation:

Illness – Am I suffering from any illness or symptom of an illness which might affect me in flight?

Medication – Am I currently taking any drugs (prescription or over-the-counter)?

Stress – Am I experiencing any psychological or emotional factors which might affect my performance?

Alcohol – Have I consumed alcohol within the last 8 to 24 hours?

Fatigue – Have I received sufficient sleep and rest in the recent past?

Eating – Am I sufficiently nourished?


2. Aircraft: Have I conducted a preflight check of my sUAS (aircraft, control station (CS), takeoff and landing equipment, etc.) and determined it to be in a condition for safe operation? Is the filming equipment properly secured to the aircraft prior to flight?

3. EnViroment: What is the weather like? Am I comfortable and experienced enough to fly in the forecast weather conditions? Have I considered all of my options and left myself an “out?” Have I determined alternative landing spots in case of an emergency?


4. External Pressures: Am I stressed or anxious? Is this a flight that will cause me to be stressed or anxious? Is there pressure to complete the flight operation quickly? Am I dealing with an unhealthy safety culture? Am I being honest with myself and others about my personal operational abilities and limitations?


A.5.5 Controlling Risk. After hazards and risks are fully understood through the preceding steps, risk controls must be designed and implemented. These may be additional or changed procedures, additional or modified equipment, the addition of VOs, or any of a number of other changes.


A.5.6 Residual and Substitute Risk. Residual risk is the risk remaining after mitigation has been completed. Often, this is a multistep process, continuing until risk has been mitigated down to an acceptable level necessary to begin or continue operation. After these controls are designed but before the operation begins or continues, an assessment must be made of whether the controls are likely to be effective and/or if they introduce new hazards to the operation. The latter condition, introduction of new hazards, is referred to as substitute risk, a situation where the cure is worse than the disease. The loop seen in Figure A-1 that returns back to the top of the diagram depicts the use of the preceding hazard identification, risk analysis, and risk assessment processes to determine if the modified operation is acceptable.


A.5.7 Starting the Operation. Once appropriate risk controls are developed and implemented, then the operation can begin.

Remote pilot sUAS study guide

The PAVE Checklist

Another way to mitigate risk is to perceive hazards. By incorporating the PAVE checklist into preflight planning, the pilot divides the risks of flight into four categories: Pilot-in-command (PIC), Aircraft, enVironment, and External pressures (PAVE) which form part of a pilot’s decision-making process.

With the PAVE checklist, pilots have a simple way to remember each category to examine for risk prior to each flight.

Once a pilot identifies the risks of a flight, he or she needs to decide whether the risk, or combination of risks, can be managed safely and successfully. If not, make the decision to cancel the flight. If the pilot decides to continue with the flight, he or she should develop strategies to mitigate the risks. One way a pilot can control the risks is to set personal minimums for items in each risk category. These are limits unique to that individual pilot’s current level of experience and proficiency.

P = Pilot-in-Command (PIC)

The pilot is one of the risk factors in a flight. The pilot must ask, “Am I ready for this flight?” in terms of experience, recency, currency, physical, and emotional condition. The IMSAFE checklist provides the answers.

A = Aircraft

What limitations will the aircraft impose upon the trip? Ask the following questions:

  • Is this the right aircraft for the flight?

  • Am I familiar with and current in this aircraft?

  • Can this aircraft carry the planned load? 

V = EnVironment Weather

Weather is a major environmental consideration. Earlier it was suggested pilots set their own personal minimums, especially when it comes to weather. As pilots evaluate the weather for a particular flight, they should consider the following:

  • What is the current ceiling and visibility?

  • Consider the possibility that the weather may be different than forecast.

  • Are there any thunderstorms present or forecast?

  • If there are clouds, is there any icing, current or forecast? What is the temperature/dew point

    spread and the current temperature at altitude?


    Evaluation of terrain is another important component of analyzing the flight environment.


    Check the airspace and any temporary flight restriction (TFRs).

    E = External Pressures

    External pressures are influences external to the flight that create a sense of pressure to complete a flight—often at the expense of safety. Factors that can be external pressures include the following:

    • The desire to demonstrate pilot qualifications

    • The desire to impress someone (Probably the two most dangerous words in aviation are

      “Watch this!”)

    • The pilot’s general goal-completion orientation

    • Emotional pressure associated with acknowledging that skill and experience levels may be

      lower than a pilot would like them to be. Pride can be a powerful external factor!

      Managing External Pressures

      Management of external pressure is the single most important key to risk management because it is the one risk factor category that can cause a pilot to ignore all the other risk factors.

      The use of personal standard operating procedures (SOPs) is one way to manage external pressures. The goal is to supply a release for the external pressures of a flight. 

Sample UAG Exam Question 20

Safety is an important element for a remote pilot to consider prior to operating an unmanned aircraft system. To prevent the final "link" in the accident chain, a remote pilot must consider which methodology?

  1. Crew Resource Management.
  2. Safety Management System.
  3. Risk Management.

PLT104 / UA.V.D.K1 Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM). 



Sample UAG Exam Question 23

A local TV station has hired a remote pilot to operate their small UA to cover breaking news stories. The remote pilot has had multiple near misses with obstacles on the ground and two small UAS accidents. What would be a solution for the news station to improve their operating safety culture?

  1. The news station should implement a policy of no more than five crashes/incidents within 6 months.
  2. The news station does not need to make any changes; there are times that an accident is unavoidable.
  3. The news station should recognize hazardous attitudes and situations and develop standard operating procedures that emphasize safety.

PLT103 / UA.V.D.K1 Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM). 

Effective team communication (UA.V.D.K1a) 


A.2.5.1 Communication Procedures. One way to accomplish this is to have the VO maintain visual contact with the small UA and maintain awareness of the surrounding airspace, and then communicate flight status and any hazards to the remote PIC and person manipulating the controls so that appropriate action can be taken. Then, as conditions change, the remote PIC should brief the crew on the changes and any needed adjustments to ensure a safe outcome of the operation.


A.2.5.2 Communication Methods. The remote PIC, person manipulating the controls, and VO must work out a method of communication, such as the use of a hand-held radio or other effective means, that would not create a distraction and allows them to understand each other. The remote PIC should evaluate which method is most appropriate for the operation and should be determined prior to flight. 

Task Management (UA.V.D.K1b) 


A.2.5.3 Task Management. Tasks very depending on the complexity of the operation. Depending upon the area of the operations, additional crewmembers may be needed to safely operate. Enough crewmembers should be utilized to ensure no one on the team becomes overloaded. Once a member of the team becomes over worked, there’s a greater possibility of an incident/accident.


A.2.5.4 Other Resources. Take advantage of information from a weather briefing, air traffic control (ATC), the FAA, local pilots, and landowners. Technology can aid in decisionmaking and improve situational awareness. Being able to collect the information from these resources and manage the information is key to situational awareness and could have a positive effect on your decisionmaking.

Crew Resource Management (CRM) (UA.V.D.K2) 

Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge

Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Single-Pilot Resource Management

While CRM focuses on pilots operating in crew environments, many of the concepts apply to single-pilot operations. Many CRM principles have been successfully applied to single-pilot aircraft, and led to the development of Single-Pilot Resource Management (SRM). SRM is defined as the art and science of managing all the resources (both on-board the aircraft and from outside sources) available to a single pilot (prior and during flight) to ensure that the successful outcome of the flight. SRM includes the concepts of ADM, Risk Management (RM), Task Management (TM), Automation Management (AM), Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) Awareness, and Situational Awareness (SA). SRM training helps the pilot maintain situational awareness by managing the automation and associated aircraft control and navigation tasks. This enables the pilot to accurately assess and manage risk and make accurate and timely decisions.

SRM is all about helping pilots learn how to gather information, analyze it, and make decisions. Although the flight is coordinated by a single person and not an onboard flight crew, the use of available resources such as air traffic control (ATC) and flight service station (FSS) replicates the principles of CRM.



A.2.5 Using All Available Resources with More Than One Crewmember (CRM). A characteristic of CRM is creating an environment where open communication is encouraged and expected, and involves the entire crew to maximize team performance. Many of the same resources that are available to manned aircraft operations are available to UAS operations. For example, remote PICs can take advantage of traditional CRM techniques by utilizing additional crewmembers, such as VOs and other ground crew. These crewmembers can provide information about traffic, airspace, weather, equipment, and aircraft loading and performance. Examples of good CRM include:


Sample UAG Exam Question 21

When adapting crew resource management (CRM) concepts to the operation of a small UA, CRM must be integrated into

  1. The flight portion only.
  2. All phases of the operation.
  3. The communications only.

PLT104 / UA.V.D.K2 Crew Resource Management (CRM). 



When adapting crew resource management (CRM) concepts to the operation of a small unmanned aircraft, CRM must be integrated into:

(FAA-H-8083-25, 17-2)

  • The flight portion only
  • The communications only
  • All phases of the operation


The effective use of all available resources – human, hardware, and information – prior to and during flight to ensure the successful outcome of the operation is called

(AC 107, small UAS, as amended)

  • Crew Resource Management
  • Risk Management
  • Safety Management System


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