On June 11, 2019 common European rules on drones, Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 & Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, were published to ensure drone operations across Europe are safe and secure. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said 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.
Its executive director, Patrick Ky, commented: “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 noted that the common rules will help drone operators, whether professional or recreational, to have a clear understanding of what is allowed or not. At the same time it enables them to operate across borders. Once drone operators have received an authorisation in the state of registration, they are allowed to freely circulate in the European Union. This means that they can operate their drones seamlessly when travelling across the EU or when developing a business involving drones around Europe.
EASA said the new rules include technical as well as operational requirements for drones. Firstly, 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. EASA said this will help to better prevent events similar to the ones which happened in 2018 at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, but that statement appears to assume that all potential drone operators would choose to operate their equipment within the law.
Secondly, 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.
While the EU regulation will enter into force by the end of June 2019, it will be applicable only in one year, 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.
EASA said it 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.
During the next High Level Conference on Drones 2019 EASA will give the opportunity to discuss the new rules and the upcoming regulatory proposal in depth.
This yearly conference is organised by EASA and takes place from December 5 – 6, 2019, during Amsterdam Drone Week. EASA said that during that event, the topic of “Scaling drone operations” will bring together regulatory bodies and industry experts from all over the world to discuss the development of a common European market for drones.