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EU rules on drones have been announced

14 June 2019 by Adrienn Kerekes 0 Comments

On July 1, 2019, the joint EU regulation of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on the use of drones will enter into force.

The agency wants to protect the privacy and security of EU citizens with unified rules applied in all the member states of the European Union, while allowing the free movement of drones and ensuring a level playing field for the industry in the member states.

“Europe will be the first region in the world to have comprehensive rules for the safe, secure and sustainable operation of drones, whether for commercial or recreational purposes. Common rules will boost investment, innovation and growth in this really promising sector," said Patrick Ky, EASA's Executive Director.

The new rules include technical and operational requirements for drones: on the one hand, they define the capabilities that drones must have in order to fly safely. For example, each new drone will have to be uniquely identifiable. This allows the authorities to track a particular vehicle if necessary. The agency hopes this will prevent a repeat of incidents similar to those at Gatwick and Heathrow airports in 2018.

On the other hand, the rules cover each type: from those that do not require prior authorization to those that require both the machines and their operators to have certificates, which can only be obtained above a certain qualification level.

According to a risk-based and proportionate approach, the pan-European framework defines three categories in terms of operation, each of which is subject to unique rules: open, low-risk vehicles weighing up to 25 kg; the special, where the flight of drones remains subject to a license and a certificate is required, is the highest risk category, which will include the package delivery or passenger carrier, as well as drones flying over large crowds and their operators.

When the common regulation enters into force, it replaces the currently valid national legislation of each EU member state. At the same time, member states may continue to define so-called no-fly zones within their territory - in the vicinity of sensitive government and industrial facilities, people gathered in large groups - and, subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions, may restrict flights beyond what is contained in EU regulations for reasons of environmental protection and public safety, or in accordance with EU law, in order to protect personal data.

At the same time, uniform regulations also mean that drone operators can operate drones within Europe for private or commercial purposes without having to worry about regulatory differences.

"Once drone operators have received their license from the registration state competent for their residence or commercial activity, they can move freely in the European Union. This means that they can operate their unmanned aerial vehicles seamlessly when traveling within the EU or setting up a European drone business," EASA writes in a blog post.

Although the regulation will enter into force 20 days after the announcement on June 11, its legal application will only take place after a year, which EASA hopes will provide enough time for member states and service providers to prepare and complete the transition.

The European Commission's delegated decree 2019/945 can be found here , while implementing decree 2019/947 can be found here .

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