New EASA Drone Regulations 2020

DR 2019/945 | IR 2019/947

As we told you in the post about Spanish drone laws, during this year, there are many novelties concerning the use of drones, as well as their design and manufacture by the different drone brands.

The new EASA drone Regulations aims to standardize the different regulations of the Member States and to regulate the civil use of drones regardless of their size or weight.

In this way, it will be possible to provide a common regulatory framework that covers all possible operational scenarios, and which is in line with current technological reality.

As we shall see below, the new EASA drone regulations establishes significant differences concerning current Spanish regulations, especially in the requirements for training drone pilots, the process of registering new operators and the technical features that the aircraft must have to obtain EC certification.

When is the EASA drone Regulations
2019/947 and 2019/945 applied?

Although they have been in force since their publication in 2019, it is not until this year 2020 that their application begins. Thus, the timetable for the implementation of the new EASA Regulations on UAS is as follows:

July 1st 2020

  • The partial application of Regulation EU 2019/947 begins.
  • European Registry of Operators (AESA registration and European EASA repository).

July 1st 2021

  • The Spanish regulations are no longer in force.
  • Deadline for the operators’ registry and pilot certification conversion to the standard established by the new EASA drone regulations.

July 1st 2022

  • Only EC marked drones may be sold.
  • Authorisations for model aeroplane clubs and associations.

Who is affected by the new EASA drone Regulation 2020?

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.

What do these new European regulations consist of?

As we have indicated previously, two new documents must be dealt with:

  • Delegated Regulation 2019/945 of 12 March 2019, aimed at regulating the requirements and specifications of UAS (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.

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.

Delegated 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.

A 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

Direct Electronic
Remote ID

One of the requirements for the new drones to be marketed, according to Reg. 2019/945, is a new real-time in-flight emission system. The drone’s emission will respond to a specific protocol that it will include:

  • Operator’s registration number.
  • UAS serial number.
  • Geographical position and height above the ground.
  • Direction and speed of the UAS.
  • Take-off coordinates.

Besides, the drone must include a manual for the correct installation and configuration of this system; this will serve for the accurate identification and monitoring of the operation by the competent authority.

Online Registration
Introduction

UAS REGISTRATION

  • All drones whose design is subject to certification according to ICAO Annex 7 must be registered (in addition to nationality and registration).

OPERATOR REGISTRATION

  • In all certified and specific category operations.
  • In the open category: Drones of more than 250 g, and those that incorporate cameras or other sensors and are not considered toys.

UAS Geographical Areas

The new EASA drone Regulations also introduces a broader concept of geographical areas where drone operations can be expressly permitted, restricted or excluded.

It helps to control and avoid risks to public safety, privacy and data protection, and environmental risks.

In these geographical areas, the Member States of the European Union may:

  • Prohibit certain or all operations.
  • Require specific authorisation or require certain conditions.
  • Restrict flying to certain types of aircraft.
  • Introduce specific environmental regulations.
  • Allow the flight of drones incorporating certain intelligent systems or specific functionalities.
  • Modify the general requirements to operate in the open category.
  • Self-built drones will also be governed by the new EASA regulations.

Implementing 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.

1. OPEN CATEGORY

This operational category includes low-risk flights for which no prior authorisation or declaration by the operator is required.

The explicit prohibitions for the open category are:

  • The overflight of groups of persons.
  • The carriage or dumping of dangerous materials or goods.
  • Autonomous operations.

Besides, three different subcategories are established based on operational limitations, requirements to pilots and technical requirements of the UAS.

SUBCATEGORY

A1

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.

SUBCATEGORY

A2

This subcategory is established for C2 type drones, i.e. 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.

SUBCATEGORY

A3

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.

2. SPECIFIC CATEGORY

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.

If not flying in the standard scenarios, which are specified in Appendix 1 of the new regulation, the drone operator must own an operational license.

In the following scheme, you can see the applicable operational requirements, according to the nature of each operation.

3. CERTIFIED CATEGORY

The general requirements for operations within the certified category are:

  • Drones certified under the Delegated Regulation EU 2019/945.
  • 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 Safety Study (SORA) submitted, indicates the need for certification of the UAS, the operator and the obtaining of the relevant pilot’s license.

With the New European Regulation on drones,
what about Spanish regulations?

As we have defined previously, there are periods of implementation of the new European regulatory framework. Therefore, all the above changes will be implemented progressively in response to the need for adaptation in the sector.

Until that time, Royal Decree 1036/2017, which regulates the use of drones in Spain, will remain in force. Also, national regulations will be applied in the transition periods contemplated in the new European Regulation and operational situations not covered by it.

As usual, at Grupo One Air, we are up to date with all the news on current regulations to inform you of everything you need to know to fly your drone with maximum safety.

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