JCAB has granted flight approval for the first “Level 3.5 Flight” of an unmanned aircraft


Japan Civil Aviation Bureau(JCAB) granted flight approval for the first “Level 3.5 Flight” of an unmanned aircraft on December 8, 2023, in order to strongly promote the commercialization of unmanned aircraft. JCAB aims to establish a new “Level 3.5 Flight” system by the end of this year to promote the commercialization of delivery services using unmanned aircraft in mountainous areas. As a leading example of a Level 3.5 Flight of an unmanned aircraft, JCAB approved an application from NEXT DELIVERY Co.  on December 8, 2023.

Reference: JCAB Website

What is Level 3.5 Flight?

Unmanned aircraft flights in Japan are classified into Levels 1 through 4, each with different requirements for flight. Level 3 allows unmanned aircraft to fly over uninhabited areas such as remote islands and mountainous areas without being seen. The major difference between Level 3 and Level 4 is that Level 3 aircraft may not fly over third parties.
However, even in unmanned areas, it is possible that pedestrians or moving vehicles may be under the flight path. Therefore, entry control measures are implemented to prevent third parties from entering the area and to ensure that there are no third parties under the flight path, thereby preventing damage to third parties in the event of a fall of an unmanned aircraft. Entry control measures include the “installation of assistants,” “establishment of off-limits zones (physically preventing entry with fences, etc.),” and “implementation of warning signs (e.g., installation of signboard)”.

The purpose of the Level 3.5 Flight is to eliminate entry control measures such as the placement of assistants and signs by utilizing digital technology in unmanned aircraft (using cameras on the aircraft to check for pedestrians, etc.), and to facilitate flights that involve crossing roads, railroads, etc. by holding an unmanned aircraft pilot license and obtaining insurance coverage.