Definitions for unmanned air traffic

Formally, we use the term unmanned aircraft, but the common term is drone. There are also other abbreviations, used in Norway and international.

  • UAS – Unmanned Aircraft System

Describes the entire system, consisting of a ground station and the aircraft that is operated from there, in addition to all the other components that is needed for operating the system, such as equipment for launch, communication, and automatic landings etc.

  • RPAS – Remotely Piloted Aircraft System

Same as UAS, but is used as a subgroup of UAS, to describe that there is at all times a person in control of the remotely piloted aircraft.

  • UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Only describes the flying part of the UAS. This definition is on its way out in civilian application, but is still used by the military. Corresponds to the Norwegian term «unmanned aircraft».

  • RPA – Remotely Piloted Aircraft

The flying part of a RPAS. Also corresponds to the Norwegian term «unmanned aircraft».

  • RPS – Remote Pilot Station

The ground station where the pilot is steering one or more RPAs. Can be compared to a cockpit, only on the ground.


Other subgroups of UAS where we don’t use abbreviations are:

  • Automatic Unmanned Aircraft Systems

A system where the aircraft flies according to a predetermined route and are carrying out preprogrammed activities. These can often be reprogrammed during the flight, and the degree of this possibility decides if this can be called an RPAS or not.

  • Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Systems

A system where the aircraft flies according to preprogrammed guidelines and makes «own» automatic decisions based on these. It is not possible for a pilot to make corrections during the flight when the system is operated autonomously. Civilian UAS operation are limited to «Remotely Piloted» system for the time being, this means that there is a pilot on the ground who can take over control of the aircraft at all times.