The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has passed a new set of drone regulations that centralize and blanket the entire European Union under one set of rules that includes Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and the United Kingdom.
The new rules cover both hobbyists and commercial drone pilots. The EASA has categorized all drones and operators under one of three sections:
- Low-risk or open-category drones will not require authorization but will be subject to strict operational limitations
- Medium-risk or specific-category drones will have to have authorization from the national aviation authority on the basis of a risk assessment
- High-risk or certified-category drones will need to follow aviation rules, and this will apply to future drone flights with passengers
There are additionally three subcategories that cover where and how drones can be flown:
- A1 – drones weighing less than 250g can be flown over people
- A2 – drones weighing more than 250g but less than 2kg must be flown at least 50m away from people
- A3 – drones weighing more than 2kg must be flown well away from people
The low-risk category covers most drones flown as a hobby and is expected to be the most used of the three categories. If a drone was purchased prior to January 1, 2021, those pilots do not need to have a CE class identification label and can be flown in the low-risk/open category for a grace period of two years, after which they will be restricted to operating in one of the two other categories. Drones purchased after January 1, 2021 require a CE class identification label and are subject to the following rules:
Drones now fall into five classes, from C0 to C4.
It’s understandable if this sounds a bit confusing. DJI has created a chart to help users make more sense of the new rules here:
All drone operators are required to register with their country of residence. For those who are looking to fly while the new rules are being rolled out, continue to check with local authorities on the currently enforced rules for flight and to assure that you are in compliance.
While these new set of rules will clearly take time to roll out and will likely involve some growing pains, the clear “win” here for pilots is the consistent set of rules that governs the entirety of the European Union. With the passage of these rules, any pilot traveling through any of the European Union countries (and the United Kingdom) can take to the skies knowing that the same guidelines apply to all locations in the EU.