Comercial Drones Regulation in EU
The current regulatory system for drones in the European Union is based on fragmented rules, with many Member States having already regulated or planning to regulate some aspects of civil drones with an operating mass of 150 kg or less.
The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has the responsibility for drones over 150kg. However, the conditions and details of national regulations differs between EU Member states.
This article summarizes the main points about operations and UAs (Unmanned Aircrafts) requisites presented in the ‘prototype’ regulation of EASA (22 August 2016) .
EASA CATEGORIES OF OPERATIONS
The EASA regulatory framework for RPAS operations proposes to regulate all RPAS at EU level and to adopt different rules base on their operations and risks (not based on mass).
‘open’ is a category of UA operation that, considering the risks involved, does not require a prior authorisation by the competent authority before the operation takes place. It has four subcategories depending on the risk of the operation (UAS-OPEN.10).
For A0 Operations main rules:
- Maximun take-off mass of 250gr and maximum speed of 15m/s
- In the case of a tethered aircraft, the maximum length of the tether is 50 m, it has no propulsion system. Maximun Take-off is less than 25kg, or volume less than 40m3
- Up to a height of 50 m (150 ft) above ground level
- Within a range such that the remote pilot maintains visual line of sight (VLOS) and the UA does not exceed a horizontal distance of 100 m from the remote pilot
- In first person view: only if the remote pilot maintains a safe separation of the UA from people, property, ground vehicles, public roads and from other airspace users.
- Operate as User Manual defines
For A1 Operations main rules (added to A0):
- be carried out by a remote pilot being at least 14 years old
For A2 Operations rules (added to previous):
- with a minimum horizontal distance of 50 m from uninvolved persons
- with active and up-to-date geofencing and electronic identification systems
For A3 Operations rules (added to previous):
- up to a height of 150 m (500 ft) above ground level, unless otherwise determined by the competent authority for the operational area based on airspace considerations
- with a minimum horizontal distance of 20 m from uninvolved persons if flying a rotorcraft, or 50 m otherwise
- remote pilot shall has received training for UA operation
‘specific’ is a category of UA operation that, considering the risks involved, requires an authorisation 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.
- The operator of UA shall have the ultimate responsibility for their operation.
- The remote pilot shall: obtain information about restrictions published by the competent authority, check that the UAS is in a safe condition, be familiar with the user manual.
- During the flight: avoid reckless manoeuvres with the UA, comply with the limitations defined by the competent authority for the area or airspace, ensure the safe operation of the UA, including a safe separation of the UA from people, property, ground vehicles, public roads and from other airspace users.
- Not use the UA to transport passengers
- The operational declaration shall include all information relevant for the intended operations, a statement of compliance with the limitations and conditions applicable to the relevant ‘standard scenario’, and a signed acknowledgement of responsibility under this Regulation.
- Application for an operational authorisation
- The operator shall provide the competent authority with the risk assessment.
- The authorisation may be issued for a limited or an unlimited duration. The conditions under which an operator is authorised to conduct the intended operation shall be specified in the authorisation.
- If the operation relies on certified UA or certified equipment, the operator shall record the operation or service time according to the instructions and procedures applicable to the certified equipment or the organisational approval or authorisation.
‘certified’ is a category of UA operation that, considering the risks involved, requires the certification of the UA, a licensed remote pilot and an operator approved by the competent authority, in order to ensure an appropriate level of safety.
Classes of drones
A brief of main requirements of each class of UAs are depicted below:
|Class 0||Class 1||Class 2||Class 3|
|Maximun Mass take-off||250 gr||25kg||25 Kg||25 Kg|
|Height||50 m||50 m||50 m||150 m|
|Pilot distance||100 m||-||-||-|
|Training course Required||No||No||-||-|
|Power System||-||<24 VDC||< 48 VDC||<48 VDC|
|Minimise Noise emissions||-||-||Yes||Yes|
 ‘Civil drones in the EU’ Europarlament, 2015
 'Civilian Use of Drones in the EU', House of Lords, 2015.
 ‘Prototipe Commision Regulation UA Operations”, EASA, 2016
 Civilian Use of Drones in the EU - EU Committee 2015