The following provides an outline of the UAV manual structure that we utilize as part of the SFOC application and internal processes to cover the UAV specific operational and maintenance procedures. This can vary based on your specific system and procedures but is what we suggest as a general guide.
The SI document outlines the core required content that is expected as part of an SFOC application, however your document may go above and beyond this to cover your actual full processes in use. The level of detail required is also dependent on the SFOC application type, however we suggest aiming for the highest level as defined under the Compliant application.
Flight Manual – The UAV system shall have a flight manual that includes operating
limitations, standard operating procedures, emergency procedures, assembly instructions
and UAV performance data.
Maintenance Manual – The UAV shall have a maintenance manual (which may be part of
the flight manual) that defines actions that shall be taken to keep the UAV system in
conformity with its Type Definition
Make this a document that you can reference and use for the ongoing use and support of your UAV. We typically combine the required UAV flight and maintenance manuals into a single document but they may be done separately as well.
Where available you can also reference and/or include sections from the manufacturers manual and related documentation.
Cover Page – Give the document a clear title that states what the document is and what UAV it is for.
Table of Contents – Provide a table of contents for the document to make it easily navigable by the reader.
Introduction – Provide a brief overview of what the manual covers and the UAV it is for.
Revisions – Tracking the revisions and updates to all documents is a requirement for most SFOCs and a good practice in general. Note the version of the document, the date of the update, and notes as to what changed for a given revision.
Specifications – Detail the specifications of the aircraft, typically the size, weight, flight times, max payload, environmental operating conditions and limitations, performance, etc. For clarity define all units in metric and Imperial. Imperial is the standard for aviation terms.
Images – Include detailed images of the aircraft showing it from all sides. Include technical diagrams and exploded views where available.
In terms of the aircraft and associated systems we subdivide them as Airframe, Power System, Radio Control System, Flight Control System, and Payload. This is not a requirement, you can define your systems in whatever manner works best. Include diagrams and images where appropriate to help define and describe the systems and elements involved.
Airframe – Describe the design and build of the UAV core structure (generally the frame itself separate from the other noted systems) and the associated maintenance schedules and procedures. Include specs on individual components that make up the airframe.
Power System – Describe the components that make up the power system (motors, props, ESCs, power distribution, etc), their specifications, and the associated maintenance schedule and procedures.
Radio Control System – Describe the radio control system being used and the associated systems such a receiver, telemetry, etc. Include a service schedule for general maintenance as well as firmware updates.
Flight Control System – Describe the flight control system being used and the associated systems. Include specs for the operating specifications and configured parameters. Include a service schedule for general maintenance as well as firmware updates.
Payload – Describe the payload system being utilized, such as a gimbal. Include the specifications and associated maintenance schedule.
Assembly & Rigging – If the UAV requires any pre-operational/pre-flight assembly or rigging, describe the components involved and the procedure to configure it for flight. Ex: system with folding arms will require them to be positioned and locked in place for flight.
Flight Procedures – Describe all normal operating procedure for the UAV and associated systems. This may include the procedure to power up the components and arming the system for takeoff through to in-flight, landing, and powering down processes.
Emergency Procedures – Describe the emergency operating procedures for in flight issues, such as prop failure, loss of signal, etc. Ex: ditching procedure for partial motor failure.
Abnormal Occurrence Maintenance – Describe the process for handling maintenance for unplanned for events, such as a prop failure in the field, basically anything that falls outside of normal scheduled maintenance.
Maintenance Tracking & Reporting – Describe the procedures by which the systems will be maintained and how maintenance and repairs will be logged and recorded. The specifics on this may actually be defined in your Operations Procedures and be separate from the UAV manual. Include a sample of the logging system and details of elements that are logged.
General Safety Precautions and Warnings – This section can define and more general catch all safety precautions that may not be specific to any systems or element of the UAV.
For defining maintenance schedules there may be multiple time-frames/periods used such as number of flights, flight time in minutes, calendar based, operation based etc. Ex:
|Pre-Operational||NA||Check all frame bolts for tightness.|
|Pre-Operational||NA||Ensure arms are in flight position and secure.|
|Flight Hours||200||Frame disassembly and complete inspection.|
If you have a fleet of UAVs it is a suggested good practice to assign each aircraft a unique ID/Name. This makes it easier to clearly reference each system across various documents and logs/records. Barcoding may be used as well to aid in the process when used with appropriate software systems.