EASA Taking Comments on Rules for Operating Small Drones

The agency has set three categories with different safety requirements, proportionate to the risk.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is taking comments until Aug. 12 on proposed rules regulating the operation of small drones in Europe. The comment period will open May 12, after EASA published them May 5.

Its proposal provides a framework to safely operate drones while allowing the industry to innovate and continue to grow, according to the agency. "The risk posed to people on the ground and to other aircraft as well as privacy, security and data protection issues created by such drones are also taken into account. The proposed regulation defines the technical and operational requirements for the drones. Technical requirements refer for example to the remote identification of drones," its announcement stated. "Operational requirements refer among others to geofencing, a system that ensures drones do not enter a prohibited zone. The proposal also addresses the pilots' qualifications. Furthermore, drone operators will have to register themselves, except when they operate drones lighter than 250g."

Design requirements for small drones are included, with the standard CE marking to be accompanied by the identification of the class of drone (from C0 to C4) and by a "do's and don'ts" leaflet in every drone box. Based on the class, an operator will know in which area he or she can operate and what competence is required.

EASA Member States will be able to define zones in their territory where either drones operations are prohibited or restricted.

Published in a document called a Notice of Proposed Amendment, the proposal has been developed with the support of experts from the EASA Member States, the Unmanned Aircraft Systems industry, UAS operators, aviation representatives, and aero modeling associations. EASA plans to submit the final text to the European Commission at the end of 2017 after taking comments and feedback into account.

The agency has set three categories with different safety requirements, proportionate to the risk:

  • Open (low risk): an operational category that, considering the risks involved, does not require a prior authorization by the competent authority before the operation takes place
  • Specific (medium risk): a category that, considering the risks involved, requires an authorization by the competent authority before the operation takes place and takes into account the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except for certain standard scenarios where a declaration by the operator is sufficient
  • Certified (high risk): a category that, considering the risks involved, requires the certification of the drone, a licensed remote pilot, and an operator approved by the competent authority in order to ensure an appropriate level of safety.

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