Home Blog articles What the European drone regulation says about the flight terminator

What the European drone regulation says about the flight terminator

by Fabio Affortunato
Terminatore Volo Droni Normativa Scenari
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 3 minutes / minuti

There are two weeks to 31/12/2020, and in view of the entry into force of the European regulation on drones (also known as EASA regulation 2019/947), it is good to deepen what the legislation says about the obligation to mount the terminator of flight.

Flight terminator: what is it?

The purpose of the flight terminator is to interrupt the power supply to the drone motors, stopping them and consequently cause the immediate interruption of the flight.

The need for this “bloody operation” is determined by circumstances inherent to flight safety, when the drone is no longer manageable by the pilot and there are conditions of possible danger created by the uncontrolled flight of the drone.

Physically the flight terminator is a device composed of a transmitter managed by the pilot and a receiver mounted on board the drone.

Activation takes place via the transmitter managed by the pilot; the operation is reversible, in the sense that it is possible to reactivate the drone’s motors via the transmitter managed by the pilot. But be careful! The reactivation itself does not guarantee at all that the drone can regain altitude and return to fly normally as it may be too late to reactivate the motors with the drone in free fall.

Flight terminator and parachute

As the Americans say, you certainly don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that the use of a flight terminator alone can seriously affect the integrity of the drone, as falling even from a height of only 10 meters could both cause serious damage and bring back.

Therefore, alongside the flight terminator, it must always be considered a parachute, which will activate when the power supply to the motors is cut-off. The available parachute models are tied to certain types of drones.

Is the Flight terminator mandatory?

The flight terminator is mandatory for drones with an MTOM (see Drones: Terms and Acronyms) > of 2 Kg. Also for drones whose MTOM is> 4 kg, the flight terminator must be independent and dissimilar, and cannot be part of the remote control used to fly the drone.

Flight terminator and drone regulations

Flight terminator and ENAC regulations

In relation to the new standard scenarios introduced on 15/10/2020 (see Blog article “ENAC – New standard scenarios IT-STS-01 and IT-STS-02“), the standard provides for the following:

Scenario STS-01 Urban

Classification based on the drone’s MTOM:

  • MTOM < 2 Kg, no flight terminator,
  • 2 Kg < MTOM <4 Kg, mandatory flight terminator with the possibility of integration into the remote control,
  • MTOM > 4Kg, mandatory flight terminator without the possibility of integration in the remote control (independent and dissimilar).

Scenario STS-02 Non Urban

Classification based on the drone’s MTOM:

  • 4 Kg < MTOM < 25 Kg, mandatory flight terminator without the possibility of integration in the remote control (independent and dissimilar).

The IT-STS-01 and IT-STS-02 operational scenarios will remain valid until 2nd December 2023.

Flight terminator and European drone regulations (31/12/2020)

Since the standard scenarios IT-STS-01 and IT-STS-02 described above, which anticipate the European scenario STS-01 (see text Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639), the mandatory nature of the flight terminator remains in the limits and in the ways indicated above.

Therefore, for those who have to operate with drones with MTOM> 2 Kg in standard scenarios, they must equip their drone with a flight terminator (and parachute).

Take away about flight terminator

  • The purpose of the flight terminator is to interrupt the power supply to the drone motors, stopping them and consequently cause the immediate interruption of the flight. The need for this operation is necessary when the drone is no longer manageable by the pilot and there are dangerous conditions created by the uncontrolled flight of the drone.
  • The flight terminator is mandatory for drones with an MTOM> 2 kg. For drones with an MTOM > 4 kg, the flight terminator must be independent and dissimilar, and cannot be part of the remote control used to fly the drone.
  • With reference to the standard scenarios IT-STS-01 and IT-STS-02:
    • STS-01 Urban Scenario – Classification-Mandatory based on the MTOM of the drone:
      • MTOM <2 Kg, no flight terminator
      • 2 Kg < MTOM < 4 Kg, mandatory flight terminator with the possibility of integration into the remote control
      • MTOM > 4Kg, mandatory flight terminator without the possibility of integration in the remote control (independent and dissimilar).
    • STS-02 Non Urban Scenario – Classification-Mandatory based on the MTOM of the drone:
      • 4 Kg <MTOM < 25 Kg, mandatory flight terminator without the possibility of integration in the remote control (independent and dissimilar).
    • With reference to the European legislation on drones (Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639), the mandatory nature of the flight terminator remains, within the limits and in the manner described above.

Note regarding the images: The cover image, taken from pixabay.com, free for commercial use and without attribution request – Author OpenClipart-Vectors. The use of the images is exclusively for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the article

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 14/10/2021

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