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WBK Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

The topic of safety for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has been under discussion for several years. For many reasons, the approach cannot be the same as for manned aircraft. The course explains the concepts and the practical implications of the Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA) for UAV. The course provides a valuable option for UAV entrepreneurs that do not have experience in classical aviation safety assessment methods and for persons that have experience in this subject but want to further their knowledge of the SORA approach.


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At a glance


Certificate of attendance


on request


4 days


from CHF 1'440.00

Comment on costs: 

The price is per person.

Language of instruction:

  • English
  • The language of instruction is English. The course, and all related material, is prepared in English.

Objectives and content

Target audience

To guarantee safety of manned aircraft a well-established process exists. This requires a complex structure comprising approved manufacturers, design organisations, training organisations and operators. This process is a very heavy burden for the industry; nevertheless, it is necessary in order to guarantee the safety of manned aircraft flight. The effectiveness of this approach is evident from the industry’s excellent track record.

The topic of safety for unmanned aircraft has been under discussion for several years. The approach cannot be the same as for manned aircraft for many reasons. To complicate the situation, the availability of cheap components and the potential versatility of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have led to the creation of many small manufacturers and operators of UAVs. It is not uncommon that the personnel of these companies do not have any experience of the safety process for manned aircraft.

In this scenario, certification authorities, such as EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), want to establish clear rules that will guarantee the safety of UAV operations. Their intention is that these rules should not prevent the development of new UAV-based applications and that they should not be complex enough to require an extensive aviation background. This effort has led to the creation of the SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) process. It should be noted that the Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA) has played an instrumental role in this effort.

The course addresses a wide audience:

  • Manufacturers or operators who want to become familiar with or apply for SORA assessment
  • Professionals who want to understand how the new SORA process works
  • Professionals who have to control or operate UAV operations, such as air traffic controllers, police, pilots, etc.
  • Representatives of safety agencies that must enforce SORA
  • etc.


Participants will acquire both knowledge of the theoretical background and the practical experience to effectively address the issues posed by the SORA process.


This modular course is structured over four days, with eight hours of lessons per day.

Day 1

Introduction to UAS operation

  • Familiarisation with UAS operation and related issues.

Safety in aviation (manned vs. unmanned)

  • Differences between the safety approaches of manned and unmanned aviation.

Qualitative and quantitative approach to safety

  • Qualitative and quantitative analyses of compliance with safety egulations. Discussion of the main differences and benefits and drawbacks of the two approaches.

Bow-Tie model

  • Understanding of the Bow-Tie model, since this is the basis of the SORA method.

Day 2

Introduction to SORA

  • Understanding of the SORA assessment. Holistic approach. Various parts of the SORA process.

Concept of operation and robustness

  • Operation and related robustness are discussed in principle and via practical examples. The objective is to familiarise participants with these concepts.

Ground risk class and mitigations

  • Familiarisation with the methodology required to assess the ground risk class and the appropriate harm barriers.


  • Introduction to Specific Assurance and Integrity Level (SAIL) and in relation to the manned aviation concept of Development Assurance Level (DAL).

Day 3


  • Based on the previous steps, participants should be able to define SAIL and thus the related Operation Safety Objectives (OSO).

Introduction to the air risk model

  • Familiarisation with the air risk model adopted in SORA.

Nominal collision risk and DAA

  • Familiarisation with the concepts of nominal collision risk and DAA.

Off-nominal risk, failures and Air SAIL

  • Familiarisation with the concepts of off-nominal risk, failures and Air SAIL.

Day 4

Case study 1

  • The knowledge acquired over the previous three days is applied to a practical example based on a real case.

Case study 2

  • The knowledge acquired over the previous three days is applied to a practical example based on a real case.


The continuing education course includes various activities such as lectures supported by practical examples, and days where the concepts discussed are applied to real case studies.

Enquiries and contact


  • Centre for Aviation
  • School of Engineering


The lecture team comprises:

  • Dott. Ing. Pierluigi Capone: ZHAW School of Engineering, Senior Lecturer Flight Mechanics and Flight Control Systems; responsible for the SYS-RAMS course (system reliability, availability, maintenance and safety)
  • Dannick Riteco: Head of UTM Risk Services, AirMap / founder of SORA Consulting


Admission requirements

The course is intended for all those interested in applying for SORA as part of UAV operation. Therefore, a basic knowledge of UAV operation (and related issues) is required. The course does not require particular mathematical or technical skills, although these may be an advantage.

Start Application deadline Registration link
on request

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