Drone laws across Europe just got a lot less complicated.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) this week published a set of common rules around drones, intended to apply universally across all 28 European Union countries.
The Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, both published on June 11, make Europe the first region in the world to have a comprehensive set of rules. The rules address both technical and operational requirements.
“The rules will amongst others help to 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,” according to an EASA statement.
And it’s likely a welcome change for drone operators who have found it difficult to keep up with ever-changing drone laws across many countries. Whether it’s vacationers doing a European tour and are unclear whether the rules are different in Italy vs. France, or enterprise drone business owners who have had to use multiple registration systems to operate drone businesses across borders, different drone rules across many European countries have been difficult to parse. By 2020, that will likely change.
Here are some of the most interesting requirements and regulations:
Establishing three categories of drone operations in the European Union
The common rules establish three categories of drone operations:
Open: this category applies to drones that weigh less than 25 kg, don’t fly over people, stay within the pilot’s line of sight, among other stipulations applying to low-risk flights
Specific: this category means that drones don’t meet ‘open’ requirements and will require authorization to be flown
Certified: this is the highest risk category, and it applies to drones that are carrying out complicated operations such as flying over large crowds, delivering items, etc.
Drone registration requirements in the European Union
By 2020, most drone operators will have to register themselves either in the EU member where they live or where they primarily operate drones. Registration would collect personal information such as name, birth date, address, and insurance policy number (if required by national law). Drones operating in the open category that weigh more than 250 grams (as well as all drones in the Specific and Certified categories) will have to be registered.
Member states will have to issue operators a unique identification number, which operators will have to affix somewhere on the aircraft.
Interestingly, the EASA says that drones can only be registered in one member state at a time (though you could be registered in one and still operate in another).
When do the new EASA European drone rules go into effect?
The rules will go into force within less than a month, but EU member states will have until 2020 to implement their enforcement. The new EASA rules will override any existing rules put in place by individual countries.
The EASA also added that the new rules will be discussed heavily at the next High Level Conference on Drones 2019, which will be held this December in Amsterdam.