EU-wide drone operation rules released

flying quadrocopter drone

This June saw the release of EU-wide rules on the safe, secure and sustainable operation of drones. The rules will help to protect the safety and privacy of EU citizens while enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the EU.

Both documents, Commission Delegation Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, 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 incidents similar to those that happened in 2018 at Gatwick and Heathrow airports when hundreds of flights were cancelled due to reports of drone sightings. The rules also 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. The new rules will replace existing national rules in EU Member States, and overall, allow drone users a clear understanding of what is allowed and what is not.

Once drone operators have received an authorisation in the state of registration, they are allowed to freely circulate in the EU, meaning that they can operate their drones seamlessly when travelling in the EU or when developing a business involving drone around Europe, it also enables them to operate across borders.

Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), 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.”

While the EU regulation will enter into force in the next 20 days, it will be applicable only in one year’s time, 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 EASA will soon publish 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 U-space service regulation to enable complex drone operations with a high degree of automation.

To read the documents and to check the timeline for application, visit the EASA drone page.