The European Commission, in agreement with the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency), finally gave the green light to the so-called Implementing Acts, i.e. the detailed directives that will regulate from now on air traffic of drones.
Among the most relevant news, is the distinction between recreational and professional drones, and the introduction of some operating profiles that will establish different rules to which everyone must abide. In the near future, we are also considering the introduction of an ECcertificate for the certification of the safety level of the various drones.
The commission has thought of three categories: Open, Specific and Certified. In the first, which represents the lowest level of risk, all current consumer drones will be included, but in general all aircraft weighing within 25 kg. For these you will not need any license but only the frequency of an online course and some flying practice independently. In all cases, however, the drones must always be piloted and can not exceed a maximum flight altitude of 120 meters above the ground.
The Specific category, on the other hand, includes all the drones that can fly outside the pilot’s field of view and which perform different types of operations than those envisaged for the Open, i.e. flying away from people, close to people or above people. An example can be that of medium sized drones that will take care of home deliveries.
The Specific does not provide weight limits, but provides specific certifications for the pilot depending on the level of risk of the specific mission, which will be established by EASA in collaboration with national agencies.
Finally, the Certified category includes drones that transport items such as dangerous goods and those that perform operations in crowded contexts (for example, shooting areas during sports competitions, concerts, etc.). In this case specific certifications will be required for the drone and the operator. The new regulations, however, at the current state have received critical feedback, that several insiders have not failed to remark. Regarding the CE mark, which will be mandatory from 2022, the risk is that those who are about to buy a drone that falls into the open category in three years can no longer use it, but with the current rules there are those who also expected difficulties on the part of current manufacturers to obtain the CE mark.
More doubts have also been expressed on the fact that special authorisations will not be necessary for those flying drones up to 25 kg , even if according to the commission in this case the operations envisaged will be only those belonging to the third sub-category, i.e. far from people. Some, finally emphasised the need to provide geo-fencing systems to limit improper use, for example near airports.
Now the ball passes to the Council and European Parliament that will have to approve the rules definitively, but the path starts to be less fast than you can imagine. The most optimistic estimates, however, provide for the publication of the rules in the European Official Journal by next June.
In any case, the entry into force is envisaged 20 days after publication, while the rules will be applicable in all member states of the European Union one year from the entry into force or, in fact, in 2020, if everything proceeds according to plans. Finally, a further two-year transition period is foreseen, which brings us therefore in 2022. Only after those who want to operate with a drone will they have to comply with the new European Union regulation rather than those of the individual national authorities.