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APR Observer

by Fabio Affortunato
Osservatore Apr
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 2 minutes / minuti

Who is the APR observer

Often in the field of drones, alongside the classic figures of APR pilot, SAPR operator and client, already the subject of a 4mydrone blog article entitled “APR pilot, SAPR Operator and Client“, we hear about APR Observer.

This figure, far from secondary, is specific and fundamental in drone flight in EVLOS (see Drones – Acronyms & Terms). So let’s see the role and tasks of the APR observer.

VLOS, EVLOS and BVLOS – Quick review

The flight of a drone can take place in three different ways, each of which must also have a specific “certificate” from the pilot.

The VLOS flight (Visual Line of Sight) or visual flight is the flight mode in which the drone is always under the visual control of the pilot, who, in order to pilot the drone, must at least be in possession of the certificate for Non Critical Operations (so-called online license). In VLOS flight, therefore, the drone can never be piloted out of sight by relying on what the drone sees.

The EVLOS (Enhanced Visual Line of Sight) flight can be defined as an evolution of the VLOS flight. This flight mode in fact includes one (or more) subjects in addition to the pilot, as the APR observer. To carry out the operations in EVLOS, the EVLOS certificate for Critical Operations is required.

Finally, the BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flight is the flight without any visual contact with the drone. A specific certificate is required for this type of flight.

APR observer and EVLOS flight

The APR observer, and not SAPR, which is completely different from the APR – for further information read the article “Ap, APR, SAPR – What do they mean? (Guide)” therefore plays an active role in EVLOS flight mode.

In fact, since the flight must be carried out visually and without optical or electronic devices, such as binoculars or telescopes, the APR observer has the task of assisting the pilot “as a second pilot“, and has the task, if it is necessary to take control of the APR when it is no longer visible to the pilot.

Obviously, the APR observer to do this must be in radio contact with the pilot and have a second radio control available to pilot the drone.

One or more APR observers?

An EVLOS flight requires the presence of an APR observer beyond the pilot; however, drone law does not limit the number of APR observers.

From this point of view, therefore, it is possible, at least on paper, to use multiple APR observers (several second pilots), without prejudice to overcoming some technical difficulties (multiple radio controls), and the necessary close operational coordination.


Note regarding the images: The highlighted image is taken from pixabay.com, free for commercial use, without attribution request. The author is bniique. The use of images has the exclusive purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article.

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 28/07/2020

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