Common European rules on drones, Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, have been published on 11 June 2019 to ensure drone operations across Europe are safe and secure. The rules will help protect the safety and the privacy of EU citizens while enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the European Union.
Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky said, “Europe will be the first region in the world to have a comprehensive set of rules ensuring safe, secure and sustainable operations of drones both, for commercial and leisure activities. Common rules will help foster investment, innovation and growth in this promising sector”.
EASA also stated in its press release that, “The new rules include technical as well as operational requirements for drones. On one hand they define the capabilities a drone must have to be flown safely. For instance, new drones will have to be individually identifiable, allowing the authorities to trace a particular drone if necessary. This will help to better prevent events similar to the ones which happened in 2018 at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. On the other hand 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.”
Although published today and due to come into force within 20 days member States will get another year, until June 2020, to prepare to implement the requirements.
Drone regulatory key points include:
- Starting June 2020 drone operators will need to register themselves before using a drone, at their place of residence/ of business.
- Additional requirements have later deadlines so countries can gradually switch over.
- The pan-EU framework creates three categories of operation for drones — open’ (for low-risk craft of up to 25kg), ‘specific’ (where drones will require authorization to be flown) or ‘certified’ (the highest risk category, such as operating delivery or passenger drones, or flying over large bodies of people) — each with their own set of regulations.
- Specific privacy provisions are included- owners of drones with sensors that could capture personal data should be registered to operate the craft (with an exception for toy drones).
- The common rules will replace national regulations that may have already been implemented by individual EU countries. Although member states will retain the ability to set their own no-fly zones — such as covering sensitive installations/facilities and/or gatherings of people.
An exception to the drone regulations could be the UK however, with the impending Brexit. In May the UK Government introduced its own set of drone regulations which force owners of devices weighing more than 250g to register on a national drone database in the aftermath of the Gatwick chaos.
The harmonization of drone rules is likely to be welcomed by operators in Europe who are currently having to do a lot of due diligence ahead of deciding whether or not to pack a drone in their suitcase before heading to another EU country.
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