WHAT DO THESE EUROPEAN REGULATIONS CONSIST OF?
As we have indicated, two new documents must be dealt with:
- Delegated Regulation 2019/945 of 12 March 2019, aimed at regulating the requirements and specifications of UAS manufacturers (Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drones).
- Implementing Regulation 2019/947, of 24 May 2019, which regulates the use of UAS by operators and pilots of drones, whether recreational or professional.
- Implementing Regulation 2020/746, of 4 June 2020, amending the implementation dates indicated in IR 2019/947 to take account of COVID-19 context.
Let’s see below, in a detailed way, what each one of them consists of and what interesting novelties they bring to the drone sector.
WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE EASA DRONE REGULATION 2021?
EASA has indicated that the new European regulatory framework applies to all UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), whether autonomous or remotely piloted, and regardless of their mass or use.
What is noteworthy is that drones and military personnel, search and rescue, police, customs and border control agents, firefighters, coastguards and other security forces and various authorities are exempt.
REGULATION 2019/945 ON UAS SYSTEMS
From the application of the Delegated Regulation 2019/945, the technical requirements and specifications that must be incorporated, in a mandatory way, by the drones destined to the operations under open category (that we will see later) are standardized. The systems, applications and accessories accompanying the drone are included. Also, the safety information that the aircraft must detail in the manuals.
REGULATION 2019/947 ON THE USE OF UAS
Of the two new regulations, the one that interests us most, both pilots and operators, is the one that regulates their use, the 2019/947 Implementing Regulation. From now on, three different operational categories are established, according to the level of risk of the operation itself.
Thus, the classification will be as follows: open category for low-risk procedures; specific category for medium risk; and certified category for flights presenting a high level of risk.
New classification of UAS according to weight
Even so, the most important novelty introduced by Reg. 2019/945 is the implementation of a new and much more precise classification of drones, according to their MTOM or maximum take-off mass. This classification will serve to define the specifications that each model must include to guarantee the safety of use.
- C0: MTOM < 250 g
- C1: MTOM < 900 g
- C2: MTOM < 4 kg
- C3: MTOM < 25 kg .
- C4: MTOM < 25 kg .
- C5: MTOM < 25 kg .
- C6: MTOM < 25 kg
open category establishes a certain number of requirements to be met:
- The pilot must be at least 16 years old (it is possible to carry out the flight under the direct supervision of a remote pilot who meets the applicable requirements).
- Registration of the UAS operator (exceptions may apply).
- Pass a theoretical online training and examination (online training and examination for subcategories A1 and A3; classroom examination for subcategory A2).
- Always keep the UAS in the line of sight (the ‘First Person View’ and ‘Follow-me’ flight modes can be considered under certain conditions as VLOS).
- The maximum height of the operation is 120 meters.
- The maximum take-off weight of the drone is 25 kg and, in addition, it must be marked according to the applicable requirements.
Besides, three different subcategories are established based on operational limitations, requirements to pilots and technical requirements of the UAS.
For drones of less than 250 g, of private construction before the standard, or of type C0 and C1, which fly over people not involved in the operation, it is established that it is necessary to know the aircraft manual. Besides, for type C1, it will be necessary to take an online training course and pass a theoretical exam, also online.
This subcategory is established for C2 type drones, (weighing less than 4 kg and incorporating the e-ID, low-speed and geo-awareness systems). The flight is allowed near people outside the operation, provided that a safety distance of 5-30 meters is maintained. For this purpose, it will be necessary to know the drone manual and to have a certificate of competence, obtained through training and theoretical-practical examination.
For privately built or pre-standard drones under 25 kg, operations will be allowed in areas away from residential, recreational, industrial or commercial areas, within a minimum of 150 meters.The requirements will be the knowledge of the user’s manual and the completion of an online course with its respective exam.
The new EASA drone Regulations dictates that the specific category applies to operations that do not fit into the open category, for risk reasons:
- BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) flights.
- Operations over 120 meters high.
- Drones over 25 kg.
- Urban flights with drones over 4 kg or without EC certification.
- Material dumping.
- Flight over crowds of people, etc.
Additionally, the following conditions must be met:
- The pilot must be at least 16 years old.
- The registration of the UAS operator is compulsory.
- A Specific Operations Risk Assessment performed by the UAS operator is required before applying to EASA.
- Also, if NOT flying in the standard scenarios, which are specified below, the drone operator must own an operational license.
- STS-01: VLOS operations in a controlled land area in a urban environment with class C5 drones (UAS).
- STS-02: BVLOS operations in a controlled land area in a sparsely populated environment with class C6 drones.
In the following scheme, you can see the applicable operational requirements, according to the nature of each operation.
To obtain the SPECIFIC category, you must be in possession of the OPEN category
From this stage, having a valid Class 1 license no longer matters.
Once the OPEN A1, A2 and A3 category is obtained, all the remote pilots start from the same point.
There are three ways to perform SPECIFIC operations:
- If you have an L.U.C. you can approve your own scenarios.
- If you follow a standard scenario (also called STS), you can operate without having to ask for permission.
- You can do a SORA-type risk analysis, which will cover and mitigate the risk associated with the mission you want to perform.
The general requirements for operations within the certified category are:
Drones certified under the Delegated Regulation EU 2019/945.
- When flying over people with a UAS with a wingspan of more than 3 metres.
- When flying over crowds of people; transporting dangerous goods with high risk in case of an accident; or when it involves the transport of people.
- If the SORA submitted indicates the need for certification of the UAS the operator and the obtaining of the relevant pilot’s license.
The detailed rules concerning the certified category are still being developed by the EU.