New European drone regulation comes into force

The new UAS regulation issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) came into effect on 1st January 2021 in the UK, all EU member states, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

This new set of rules are designed to create a unified framework along the European countries to help drone pilots operate their aircraft in different territories with the same regulation as in their own country, for both recreational and commercial purposes.

It is expected that this regulation will improve flight safety, simplify user approval procedures, enhance user experience, support rapid business development and facilitate users’ personal and business applications.

This new framework divides operation into three categories (open, specific and certified) depending on the operational risk and not exclusively on the type of aircraft. This means that an operation performed with the same aircraft might fall into different categories depending on the ConOps:

  • the ‘open’ category is a category of UAS operation that, considering the risks involved, does not require a prior authorisation by the competent authority nor a declaration by the UAS operator before the operation takes place;
  • the ‘specific’ category is a category of UAS operation that, considering the risks involved, requires an authorisation by the competent authority before the operation takes place, taking into account the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except for certain standard scenarios where a declaration by the operator is sufficient or when the operator holds a light UAS operator certificate (LUC) with the appropriate privileges;
  • the ‘certified’ category is a category of UA operation that, considering the risks involved, requires the certification of the UAS, a licensed remote pilot and an operator approved by the competent authority, in order to ensure an appropriate level of safety.

One of the most relevant aspects will be the introduction of the CE marking process in drones for the Open (low risk) category. The UAS sold for these kind of operations will need to meet the safety, health and environmental protection requirements established by the EU.  

More information about the new regulation can be found here:

https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/Easy%20Access%20Rules%20for%20Unmanned%20Aircraft%20Systems%20November%202020.pdf

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