What is covered by the new EU regulations?
The EU regulation adopts a risked based approach and as such does not distinguish between leisure or commercial activities. It takes into account the weight and specifications of the drone and the operation it intends to undertake.
The regulation caters:
A. For drones sold on the market, meaning:
1. when operating in the open category: i. those that will bear a CE class mark (according to Regulation (EU) 2019/945) ranging from C0 to C4 from lighter to heavier models; ii. those currently owned, and produced before the date of 31st Dec 2022, so not bearing a CE class mark,
2. when operating in the specific category, also those without a CE class mark
B. For Privately built drones meaning:
built for their own use.
EU regulation 2019/947 caters for most types of operation and their level of risk. It does so through 3 categories of operations: Open, Specific and Certified category:
The Open Category – addresses operations in the lower risk bracket, where safety is ensured by the drone operator complying with relevant requirements for its intended operation. This category is subdivided into three further subcategories called A1, A2 and A3. Operational risks under the “open” category are considered so low that no authorisation is required before starting the flight.
The Specific category – covers riskier operations where safety is ensured by the drone operator obtaining an operational authorisation from the national competent authority before starting the operation; after conducting a safety risk assessment which will determine the requirements necessary for safe operations.
The Certified category – where safety risk is so high that safety is ensured through the certification of the drone operator and aircraft as well as licensing of remote pilots.
What are the applicability dates under EU regulation 2019/947 and 2019/945?
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the applicability date of EU regulation 2019/947 has been delayed from the 1st July 2020 to the 31st December 2020, meaning:
- as of 31st December 2020, registration of drone operators and certified drones becomes mandatory;
- as of 31st December 2020, operations in the “Specific” category may be conducted after authorisation given by the national authority;
- between 31st December 2020 and 1st January 2023 drones users operating drones without CE class markings can continue to operate, in the limited category under article.22 EU regulation 2019/947 (see FAQ for the ‘Open’ category for additional information);
- as of January 2022, national authorisations, certificates, declarations must be fully converted to the new EU System;
- from 1st January 2022, EASA Member States must make available information on geographical zones for geo awareness in a digital format harmonised among EU countries;
- as of January 2023 all operations in the “Open” category and all drones operators must fully comply with EU regulation 2019/947 and EU regulation 2019/945.
Who is a drone operator?
A drone operator is any person, natural or an organisation, who owns the drone(s) or rents the drone. You can be both a drone operator and a remote pilot if you are also the person that actually fly the drone. However it can be the case where you are the remote pilot without being a drone operator. For example, if you are a pilot working for a company which provide services with drones. In this case, the company is the drone operator and you are the remote pilot.
If you bought a drone to fly it in your leisure time, you are both the drone operator and remote pilot.
If you bought a drone to give away as a gift, the person who will receive the gift and then fly the drone will be the drone operator and the remote pilot.
How do I determine which category I fall under: Open, Specific or Certified?
A drone can be operated in the “Open “category when it:
• bears one of the CE class marks 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4;or
• is privately built and with a weight less than 25kg; or
• it is purchased before the 1st of January 2023, with no CE class marking as above;
• will be operated not directly over people, unless it bears a CE class mark or is lighter than 250g. (Please refer to subcategories of operations: A1, A2 and A3 to find out where you can fly with your drone).
• will be maintained in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) or be assisted by a UA observer ;
• is flown at no more than 120 metres high;
• will not carry dangerous goods and not drop any material.
In all other cases it must be operated in the Specific or Certified category.
Regulatory reference: Article 4 and article 20 of EU Regulation 2019/947; Annex part A and Article 5(1) of EU Regulation 2019/947, Part1 to 5 Annex of EU regulation 2019/945.
Do I need to register my drone?
Unless are certified, drones do not need to be registered but you, as drone operator/owner, must register yourself. You do so with the Civil Aviation Authority of theEU country you residence in (https://www.easa.europa.eu/domains/civil-drones/naa)
You register once, independently of how many drones operating in the open or specific category you have. Your registration will be valid for a period defined by your national Civil Aviation Authority after which you need to renew it.
However, you do not need to register yourself if your drone(s):
- weighs less than 250g and has no camera or other sensor able to detect personal data; or
- even with a camera or other sensor, weighs less than 250g, but is a toy (this means that its documentation shows that it complies with ‘toy’ Directive 2009/48/EC);
A drone is certified when it has a certificate of airworthiness (or restricted certificate of airworthiness) issued by the national aviation authority. In this case it require a registration. A certified drone is needed only when the risk of the operation requires it. So it is never needed for drones operated in the open category.
Relevant regulation: article 21 of EU regulation 2019/947.
Once registered, you receive a ‘drone operator registration number’ that needs to be displayed with a sticker on all the drones you own including those privately built. You must also, upload it into the ‘Drone’s remote identification system’.
As drone operator, will receive a unique registration number and this will be valid in all other EASA member State. You cannot register twice.
Regulatory reference: article 14 EU regulation 2019/947.
Who is an ‘uninvolved person’?
” An uninvolved person, means persons who are not participating in the UAS operation or who are not aware of the instructions and safety precautions given by the UAs (drone) operator”.
A person is considered involved if he/she decides to be a part of the operation, understands the risk and is able to check the position of the drone while it is flying.
Therefore in order to be considered ‘involved’ in the operation, a person needs to:
- give consent to be a part of the operation (e.g. a consent to be overflown by the drone); the consent needs to be explicit;
- receive from the drone operator/remote pilot instructions and safety precautions to be applied in case of emergency situation;
- do not be busy with other activities such that the person cannot check the position of the drone and, in case of incident take action to avoid to be hit.
Writing on a ticket that during an event a drone will be used, is not considered sufficient, since the drone operator needs to receive individual explicit consent and make sure people understand the risk and the procedures to be taken in case of emergency.
During the operation it is expected that involved persons follow the trajectory of the drone and are ready to take action to protect themselves in case the drone has an unexpected behaviour. If people during the UAS operation, people are busy to work or to watch something that is not compatible with monitoring the trajectory of the drone, than these cannot be considered as uninvolved.
Examples of uninvolved people:
- spectators gathered for sport activities, concerts or other mass events;
- people in a beach or in a park, walking on the streets.
Uninvolved person is not only the one exposed directly on a drone, but could also mean a person who is in a bus, car, etc., i.e. is indirectly exposed. For example, if a drone is flying over a car, its driver should be considered as ‘uninvolved person’. The reason behind is that a drone is flying close to a car (even if not impacting on it) could possibly distract its driver and therefore cause a car accident.
Regulatory reference: GM1 Article 2(18) Definitions, ED Decision 2019/021/R.
Please Note: For a comprehensive regulations FAQs guide on the provisions applicable to both ‘Open’ and ‘Specific’ category and other useful documents please refer at the bottom of the page