EU Publish New Rules On European Drone Operations

On 11th June 2019, European drone rules were published to ensure the safety and security of drone operations across Europe. The rules, amongst others, will help to protect the safety and the privacy of EU citizens whilst enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the European Union. The rules will help drone operators, whether they are commercial or recreational, to have a clearer understanding of what is allowed and what isn’t.

The regulation will also enable pilots to operate across borders, as once drone operators have received an authorisation in the state of registration, they are allowed to freely circulate within the European Union. This will allow for pilots to operate their drones freely when travelling across the EU or when developing a business involving drones around Europe.

The new rules include technical as well as operational requirements for drones and will replace existing national rules in EU Member States. They will not only address safety but also contain important building blocks to mitigate drone related security risks. For instance, they define the capabilities a drone must have to be flown safely – i.e. new drones will have to be individually identifiable, allowing authorities to trace a particular drone if necessary. Furthermore, the rules cover each operation type, from those not requiring prior authorisation, to those involving certified aircraft and operators, as well as minimum remote pilot training requirements.

Members States will be able to define so-called ‘no fly zones’ where – through satellite geo-location – drones will not be allowed to enter. ‘No fly zones’ may include airports and airfields or city centres.

Whilst the EU regulation will enter into force in the next 20 days, it will be applicable only in one year, to give Member States and operators time to prepare and implement it. As of June 2020, operators of drones will need to register in the Member State where they have their residence or their main place of business. The applicability will be gradual according to a timeline that can be consulted via the EASA drone page.

What Happens Next?

EASA will soon be publishing guidance material and a proposal for two ‘standard scenarios’ to support drone operators to comply with the adopted rules. Towards the end of the year EASA will make a proposal to the European Commission for the U-space service regulation to enable complex drone operations with a high degree of automation. Furthermore, a systematic review of all existing EU aviation rules is progressing to identify the necessary changes to improve applicability to drone operations.

Patrick Ky, Executive Director of EASA comments on the new rules:

“Europe will be the first region in the world to have a comprehensive set of rules ensuring safe, secure and sustainable operation of drones both for commercial and leisure activities. Common rules will help foster investment, innovation and growth in this promising sector”.

CAP1789 – The EU UAS Regulation Package

Commercial and recreational drone operators are able to view CAP 1789, which provides an outline of the newly published EU unmanned aircraft regulations along with a simple explanation of the general intent behind the key parts of the regulations and our outline plans for their implementation within the UK next year. It is intended to be used as an aid to read and understanding the regulations themselves.