EUROPEAN DRONE REGULATIONs

EASA DRONE Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Since the 31st of December 2020 we have new European drone regulations. You would say this is fantastic news as all the European countries now have the same crystal clear drone rules. Unfortunately, that’s not the case as every European country has the option to add or omit their own set of drone regulations next to the basic drone laws from EASA. On this drone page, we will tell you all about the general basic new European drone laws. Check our European drone authority page for contact information and drone No-Fly zone maps for each individual European country.

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BASIC DRONE REGULATIONS

EASA basic drone rules

Most of the old drone regulations in all countries where based on the fact if the drone flight was commercially or privately executed. The new European drone regulations are based one specific fact, namely the amount of risk! Another big change in the new drone regulations is that every drone pilot needs to have an official pilot certificate, even if the drone is only used privately. These pilot certificates come in different degrees that coherent with the type of drone flights you want to perform which is categorised in the amount of risk that comes with the flight. Check our drone authority page to see where you can get your drone pilote certificate for your country. The European drone regulations have now three different kind of categories that are the base of all new European drone rules.

THREE DRONE CATEGORIES

The three categories are: Open, Specific and Certified which stand consecutively for Low, Medium and High risk drone flights. Each category has its own rules and restrictions and its own regulations and action plan to execute before flight. In general you can say that the Open category is for amateur drone flights, Specific for professional drone flights and Certified is for the biggest drone companies that in the future will transport people and packages with drones. Let’s break these three down to get a good understanding of how they work and to see in what category your drone flight belongs.

Frequent abbreviations in the European Drone regulations

  • BVLOS: beyond visual line of sight
  • CE marking: Conformité Européenne
  • CAA: Civil Aviation Authority
  • CTR zone:  Controlled Airspace Region
  • EASA: European union Aviation Safety Agency
  • MTOM: Maximum takeoff mass
  • NOTAM: Notice to airmen
  • OSO: operation Safety objectives
  • PDRA: Pre-Defined Risk assessment
  • ROC: Rpas Operator Certificate 
  • ROC-light: Rpas Operator Certificate Light
  • RPAS: Remotely Piloted Aircraft System
  • SORA: Specific Operation Risk Assessment
  • STS: standard scenario
  • UAS: Unmanned Aircraft System
  • UDP: Uniform Daylight period
  • VLOS: Visual Line of Sight

OPEN CATEGORY

OPEN CATEGORY

The open drone category will probably be the most used category as this mainly aimed at the private drone users that fly the smaller drones in the lower weight class. The OPEN category is divided in three categories which all have their own pilot certificate so it’s really important to know in which of these categories your drone flights will take place.  Check the OPEN category drone rules on the EASA website for most current regulations: 

Next to the rules in each subcategory, there are also some general drone regulations:

  • The pilot must be at least 16 years old
  • You have to register yourself as a pilot when the drone is above 250 grams. 
  • You have to make an exam and get your official EASA pilot certificate
  • The maximum altitude is 120 meters
  • You can only fligh during the daylight period (UDP)
  • These flights do not require any approval of aviation authorization.
  • Every drone flight has to be in Visual line of sight of the pilot (VLOS)
  • Not allowed to fly in no-fly zones
  • FPV drones are allowed when an extra observer is on sight to have VLOS
  • You can not film or photograph people without there permission
  • You need to have Liability insurance specifically for drone flights
  • The drone must be registered to get its own registration number.

WHERE TO register?

Check the buttons below for the European drone authority page on this website. Here you can see where you have to register your drone and yourself as a drone pilot for each European country. You can also find all the European Drone no-fly zone maps.

OPEN SUBCATEGORY: A1

This category is ment for the smallest drones between 0 and 250 grams when no exams are needed and the 250 and 900 grams when you do have to get your pilot certificate. In this category you are actually allowed to fly over people (not enormous crowds though) that are not notified about your drone flight. So say you can fly above groups of people up to 12 persons. With a ‘follow me mode active’ the drone must stay within 50 meters of the pilot.

OPEN SUBCATEGORY: A2

This category contains drones in a weightless between 900 grams and 2KG or even up to 4KG when the drone has the newly required C2 Marking (Which stands for that the product is tested by European Standars). Drones that have been build before 2022 don’t have this CE marking yet but this will be required by 2022. It’s not clear yet how this will work for already bought drones so we will keep you updates on this and do check the EASA website for current updates. In this subcategory you have to maintain a distance of 50 meters minus of people and buildings with the drone. Future drone which will have a ‘slow speed’ option can fly in this setting up to 5 meters away from people.

OPEN SUBCATEGORY: A3

Drones up to 25kg MTOM (maximum take of weight) are flying in this catagory. Because the drone is more have and thereof of bigger risk to people the minimum distance the drone has to keep from people or buildings is 150 meters. Flying drones this heavy in this category means you can not fly within residential, industrial or recreational and commercial areas.

SPECIFIC CATEGORY

SPECIFIC CATEGORY

The Specific category is ment for all drone operations that do not fit the OPEN category. If you are a commercial drone company like us (European Drone Company) flying the bigger camera setups like with ARRI or RED cameras but also the Inspire 2 drone you will probably want to fly in this Specific category as you want to fly close up to people and buildings. You also want to fly this category if the drone is heavier than 25KG or if you want to fly above 120 meters. Other than in the open category In the Specific category your risk assessments of the drone flight will always have to be controlled and approved by the CAA of the country you want to fly in. These risk assessments will be based on three parts that will be explained below. For the most updated drone regulations in the Specific catgory, Check the EASA page through this button: 

SORA: Specific Operation Assesment

The SORA stands for Specific Operations Risk Assessment. This is an assessment to safely create, conduct and evaluate a drone operation through a STS or PDRA. These risk assessments are build up of two parts: The GRC, Ground Risk Class in which you have to make a risk assessment about all the potentials risks that can occur on the ground. And the ARC, Air Risk Class in which you have to note the risks and mitigating measures for the Airspace and other airspace users. These two parts will determine the so called SAIL: Specific Assurance and Integrity Levels. The Sail shows us the level of confidence regarding that the drone operation will stay under control for the intended operation. The SAIL levels start at level I (one) up to level VI (six). Depending on the SAIL level the drone company has to come up with the OSO, Operation Safety Objectives. This is a description of the mitigating measures based on the three most important elements: Pilot, Machine, and Organisation.

STS - Standard Scenarios

The risk assessment can be based on one of the so called ‘Standard scenarios’. In the coming year the EASA will come up with multiple STS for which you have to make. A standard risk assessment. When this risk assessment is approved by your national CAA you are always to deploy your drone flight as long as the drone flight is within the scenario you have approval for. At the moment (Jan 2021) there are only two Standard scenarios but more will follow in the coming months.

PDRA: pre-Defined Risk Assesment

When you drone flight and the associating risk are not witting the Standard scenarios you have to make a Pre-Defined Risk Assessment. This means you have to sum up all the potentials risks of the drone flight and come up with all the mitigating measures that need to be taken to make sure the flight is as save as it can be.  This risk assessment has to be made for each drone flight and has to get approval of your local CAA.

CERTIFIED CATEGORY

CERTIFIED CATEGORY

The last category in the new European drone regulations is the Certified category. This is the category which contains the highest level of risk when an accidents occurs. This drone category is ment for bigger drones above 25KG that for example carry people (drone taxi) or deliver packages in city center to hospitals or consumers. This means this category is probably only for the bigger companies that are really heading towards the future of drones. As the risks of the drones in this category are the biggest of all three categories the regulations are also really strict. As this category is more meant for the future the EASA is still working on the latest regulations and will probably keep on adapting the rules as new inventions and ideas will come up. Check the EASA website Certified page for the latest updates on this subject.

U-SPACE and Light UAS

The Certified drones will probably fly in there own piece of airspace, called U-space. This will be a layer of airspace in which the drones in this category will perform their flights. They ays to make these regulations for this type of drones will take another five to ten years to develops at the moment no-one is flying the Certified category. It’s said that this category will also contain sub categories which will be developed in the coming years. One of the subcategories is already worked out for the first part, this is the Light UAS for drones up to 600KG. More information about this can be found on the EASA Light UAS page.

TRANSITION PERIOD

DRONE TRANSITION PERIOD

In most European countries there will be a transition period of a year in which both the old and the new aviation drone rules are operative. This means you can still follow the old drone laws of your own country until January 2022. Keep an eye on the EASA website to see when the new European drone regulations will be the only regulations you have to fly by. You don’t want to be flying your drones and having the risk of having a fine or even worse that you have an accident and the insurance company will not cover it because you where (unknowing) not following the new drone rules.

EASA DRONE REGULATIONS PDF

If you are really in to the exact law, articles and regulations of the EASA, you have to check this PDF document that contains over 300 pages of content about every single rule and law in the European drone regaulation. PDF download behind the button. If you are looking for the European drone regulations for each individual country you can check our European drone authority page. Here you will find all the National Aviation Authorities per European drone country. 

#DISCLAIMER No rights can be derived from the information provided here. Always check the EASA Aviation website for the latest updates and most accurate European drone regulations. And sure, please let us know if you have information that is not on this page or when something we write is not completely accurate. Just contact us via the email adres of Tom in the footer of this page.