UAV(s) – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle(s)
This was the previous term used by the regulator (still used in some cases), but recently replaced by RPA to align with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
UAS – Unmanned Aerial System(s)
This encompasses the UAV, but also includes the supporting equipment, for example the ground station, launch hardware etc. I.e. the entire system supporting the flight operations.
RPA(s) – Remotely Piloted Aircraft
This is the term now most commonly used by the regulator (CASA) and industry. When used, it is referring to the aircraft itself and not the supporting systems. The reason ICAO/CASA moved to RPA vs. UAV, was to highlight that a human is still involved in the operation of the aircraft (“human in the loop” as they put it).
RPAS – Remotely Piloted Aircraft System(s)
As with UAS, this encompasses the RPA and any supporting system(s), for example the ground station, launch hardware etc.
Drone(s): While this was the term commonly used to define unmanned military aircraft, drone is now the term of choice for remotely controlled aircraft brought from hobby/toy shops and is often what is heard in the media.
You’ll note that the key difference here is whether we are referring to the aircraft in isolation, or the aircraft and its supporting system(s). Whether you use the term drone, UAV or RPA is mostly down to preference, but we like to use the terms RPA or RPAS as both CASA and ICAO have started using these (currently in a transition period). Read more about these terms on the CASA website.
Thanks, but you still haven’t answered my question…