ASL Future Flight reaching new heights with Avtrain

ASL Future Flight, a subsidiary of ASL Airlines Ireland, has been awarded an EASA Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator Certificate (LUC) by the Irish Aviation Authority. This is only the third such authorisation to be issued in the State. ASL Airlines Ireland (ASLI) is one of seven airlines in the Dublin-based ASL Aviation Holdings group operating cargo and passenger flights globally. ASL Aviation Holdings operate more than 135 aircraft, carried nearly 1 million tonnes of freight and nearly 7 million passengers last year.

This truly moves the dial on progress towards commercial drone operations, at scale, using large aircraft and eVTOLs, it has been our pleasure at Avtrain to work with ASL paving the way. ASL and Avtrain have always been at the forefront of innovation and this demonstrates the ongoing commitment to eVTOL Certified Category Operations in the future by both companies.

“Cargo will play a key role in the development of new flight technologies”, said ASL Airlines Ireland Managing Director, John Rawl. “This LUC shows ASL’s commitment to be ready, willing and able as unmanned aircraft become larger and capable of operating over wider networks delivering cargo up to 500kgs or more.”

UAS Manager for the IAA, Enda Walsh said: “ASL Future Flight are only the third operator to obtain a Light UAS Operator Certificate from the IAA. It is a reflection of ASL’s strong organisational structure, safety management system and staff competencies. We look forward to working with ASL as they continue to grow and develop.”

“The future of flight is here and to see such a significant player as the ASL Airlines Future Flight subsidiary being awarded a LUC is a huge stepping stone to full scale eVTOL operations,” said Avtrain CEO, Julie Garland.

What is Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator Certificate or LUC?

The LUC is a type of drone operator authorisation which gives certain privileges to its holder. In addition, LUC is considered the highest level of authorisation a UAS Operator may hold in the Specific Category. The LUC holder must demonstrate to the National Aviation Authority (NAA) of the country of operator registration (NAA in Ireland is the IAA), that they have an organisational structure including a Safety Management and Compliance Monitoring System and all the recourses and procedures in place to ensure safe UAS operations. When satisfied with the LUC application documentation, the NAA will specify the terms and conditions of the privilege granted to the UAS operator. In addition, the NAA may grant a LUC holder the privilege to authorise its own operations without submitting an operational declaration or applying for an operational authorisation. 

What type of operations could a LUC holder self-authorise?

The competent authority would detail within the terms of approval, that without prior declaration to the competent authority, the LUC holder should be able to authorise its own operations based on STS; and without prior approval of the competent authority based on a PDRA; or based on one or more modifications of an STS (variants), which does not include changes to ConOps, the category of UAS used or the competencies of remote pilots; or one that does not correspond to a PDRA, but falls within a type of activity already performed by the UAS operator.

Is it easy to obtain a LUC for the UAS operator?

The requirements for a UAS operator's organisational structure, safety culture and procedures differ from requirements for operations in the Open Category or Specific Category under an operational authorisation. It requires commitment and subject knowledge from the applicant. The LUC application documentation will comprise a LUC Manual, Operations Manual and Safety Management Manual, including Compliance Monitoring, procedures, and risk management structures.

Who should apply for a Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator Certificate?

Suppose you are planning for complex operations across multiple EASA member states, possibly under varying risk profiles, and are willing to establish an organisational structure commensurate to the level of complexity. In that case, the LUC is suitable for your organisation. The essence of a LUC is that you are sufficiently capable of measuring, monitoring and improving safety and compliance within your own organisation – much the same as in airline operations. If you currently hold an existing operational authorisation, it may be time to start thinking about a roadmap to the LUC. It will take commitment, usually several months, to obtain such an authorisation.

Want to know more about Avtrain’s services? 

Our team successfully prepare, train and consult with a huge variety of clients from drone delivery, medical companies, logistics organisations right up to existing airlines. We also work with government agencies on drone strategy implementation and authorisations for complex organisations such as the police force and coast guard. We deliver turn-key solutions to our customers, including compliance verification and training provisions. Get ahead of your competition and message us today to schedule a meeting. Let's look into your organisation’s future goals and decide on the roadmap to your success with the right solution, relevant drone pilot & operator licences and authorisations.

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Relevant links:

Avtrain -

Irish Aviation Authority (NAA Ireland) -

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) -

ASL Airlines Ireland -

ASL Aviation Holdings -

"ASL Airlines Licenced for future flight. Commercial Drone Authorisation for Irish Cargo Airline" Press release -

Photo credit - Captain Frederic Daveloose of ASL Airlines Belgium.

April 13, 2023

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