[DRONES] The new European regulation detailed

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Following the previous article informing you of the recent adoption of a new common European regulation on the drone, we wanted to give you more details about it.

As a reminder, this regulation will be implemented according to a schedule and there is a transitional arrangement. The intention is that by June 2021, all national permits, certificates and exemptions will be converted into the new European system.


A transition to a common European core and to national provisions

As announced by the French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, this base will "replace the national frameworks developed by each State Member for the safety of these aircraft. Specific national provisions will, however, remain in force to combat the malicious use of unmanned aircraft on board. "

In addition "these provisions will apply gradually from July 1, 2020. In the meantime, the national regulations in force remain fully applicable. The practical arrangements for the transition to European regulation will be drawn up in consultation with the professional and leisure sectors concerned. "


A new classification

Today to fly your drone, we categorize either as an amateur (recreational drone) or as a professional pilot (and therefore licensed).

The difference is made according to the drone used - more than 25 kg, you have to be licensed - and the flight situation, classified by categories (S1 to S4) Situations S1, S2 and S3 require a certificate of theoretical license mandatory pilot.) Today, this type of classification varies according to the countries of the members and sometimes completely at all.

From now on, with the new regulation, smoothed at the European level, the classification will be common to all the countries member. To this will be added national provisions, specific to each country.

This new classification falls into two broad categories, which will replace the professional and leisure categories. They are established by degree of "risks", called "Open" or "Specific".


The “Open” Category Features

First, the category of "Open" drone operations is divided into three sub-categories A1, A2 and A3 according to several criteria.

It applies when the drone is maintained at a maximum distance of 120 meters from the closest landing point. The measurement of distances is adapted according to the geographical characteristics of the terrain, such as the presence of plains, hills, mountains.

When the drone moves in a horizontal radius of 50 meters around an artificial obstacle greater than 105 meters, the maximum altitude of the drone can be increased up to 15 meters above the height of the obstacle .

The remote pilot keeps a direct view of the drone at all times.

Then come the details of the characteristics by subcategory A1, A2 and A3.

Open Category - Sub Category A1

For a drone weighing up to 900g not going beyond 19m / s; the category C1:

  • The drone pilot does not fly over people's gatherings and can reasonably estimate that no person not participating in the operation will be overflown.

For a drone weighing up to 250g not going beyond 19m / s; the category C0:

  • The drone pilot can fly over people not participating in the operation but can not fly over people's gatherings.

The drone pilot has undergone online training leading to the successful completion of an online theory test organized by the competent authority or an entity recognized by the competent authority of the operator's Member State of registration UAS. The examination consists of 40 multiple-choice questions duly divided into the following subjects:

i) aviation safety; (ii) airspace restrictions; (iii) air regulations; (iv) the limits of human performance; (v) operational procedures; (vi) general knowledge of UAS; (vii) data protection and privacy; viii) insurance; (ix) security;

The drone is of category C0 (maximum 250g load included) or C1 (maximum 900g load included) and equipped with active and updated direct identification systems and geovigilance; for each of the two categories the drone does not exceed the speed of 19m / s.

Open Category - A2 Subcategory

For drones with a weight, payload of less than 4 kg; the category C2:

The flight is carried out in such a way that the drone does not fly over people and takes place at a safe horizontal distance of at least 30 meters from these persons;

The pilot may reduce the horizontal safety distance to a minimum of 5 meters from persons when using a drone equipped with an active low-speed mode function, and after assessing the situation with respect to:

  • (a) weather conditions;

  • (b) the performance of the unmanned aircraft on board;

  • (c) the isolation of the area overflown;

The pilot shall hold a pilot aptitude certificate issued by the competent authority or by an entity recognized by the competent authority of the Member State.

Obtaining this patent is subject to:

  • a) have completed online training and passed the online theory test

  • b) have followed a practical self-study

  • (c) pass a complementary theoretical examination organized by the competent authority or by an entity recognized by the competent authority of the Member State of registration of the drone operator. The examination will include at least thirty multiple-choice questions designed to assess the distance pilot's knowledge of technical and operational mitigation of ground risks, duly divided between the following subjects:

  • i) meteorology; ii) flight performance of UAS; (iii) technical and operational mitigation measures for ground risks;

Open Category - Sub Category A3

For drones with a weight, payload of less than 25 kg; the category C4:

The pilot may reasonably consider that no person not involved in the operation will be endangered within the aircraft's range.

The flight is conducted at a safe horizontal distance of at least 150 meters from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas;

The flight is conducted by a remote pilot who has completed online training and passed an online theory test described in sub-category A1.


The validity of patents, the theoretical skills and the registration of drones

The on-line theoretical competency acquired by the distance pilot and the distance pilot aptitude certificate are valid for five years.

Authorizations issued to drone operators, distance pilot certificates of competency and declarations submitted by drone operators or equivalent documents issued on the basis of national law shall remain valid until 1 July 2021.

 By 1 July 2021, Member States shall, under the new Regulation, convert their existing pilot proficiency certificates and authorizations or declarations of drone operators, or equivalent documents, including those issued up to this date.

Note that drones whose mass is equal to or more than 250g must be registered with the competent authorities and the documents of skills required and obtained to exercise.

A specific category for professionals

Companies wishing to perform higher risk UAV operations (such as flying over people or in controlled airspace) are in the Specific category.

We will then be allowed to fly provided we work according to standard scenarios and have received the approval of the DGAC.

The drone operator may submit to the competent authority of the Member State a declaration of exploitation by which he complies with a standard scenario, for holdings:

Whose drones:

  • Have a maximum characteristic dimension of up to 3 meters in VLOS over a controlled area, except over people gatherings;

  • Have a maximum characteristic dimension of up to 1 meter in VLOS, except over people gatherings;

  • Have a maximum characteristic dimension of up to 1 meter in BVLOS, over sparsely populated areas;

  • Have a maximum characteristic dimension of up to 3 meters in BVLOS over a controlled area;


And whose operation is carried out within 120 meters of the land surface, (i) in uncontrolled airspace (Class F or G), or (ii) in controlled airspace after coordination and individual flight clearance in accordance with published procedures for the area of operation.

Finally, for flights of UAVs presenting an even higher risk (think of flights of drones out of sight or even to the transport of parcels and passengers), there will be the category Certified. The U-Space regulations must ensure that these operations can be carried out safely. Hard work is still underway on the conditions and preconditions.

The new regulations can be consulted in final form and in all European languages via the following links: Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947.


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