Home Blog articles Drone regulations: from ENAC to EASA Part 2 – EASA regulation

Drone regulations: from ENAC to EASA Part 2 – EASA regulation

by Fabio Affortunato
regulation-drones-ENAC-EASA-part 2
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EASA regulation

In the previous post “Drone regulation: from ENAC to EASA part 1 – ENAC regulation” we analyzed the obligations and limitations imposed by the current ENAC regulation, which will be supported from 01/01/2021 by the European regulation on EASA drones.

It is important to remind that the analysis of the operational and regulatory aspects related to the transition from the ENAC drone regulation to the European regulation on EASA drones, are divided into 3 different posts.

This post (the second of the three) will deal in detail with the analysis of the European EASA legislation.

The first post analyzed the aspects relating to the ENAC legislation in force, while the third will carry out a comparison between the two regulations, highlighting the necessary adjustments/obligations. In all three posts, particular emphasis will be placed on the drone license, or the certificate necessary to fly a drone according to the current and future EASA regulations.

EASA European Drone Regulations – (Validity from 01/01/2021)

Until 31/12/2020, the ENAC regulation will be in force for Mezzi Aerei a Pilotaggio Remoto – Ed.3, Emendamento 1 del 14 luglio 2020. It contains the rules that every drone pilot must comply with.

From the  01/01/2021, the EASA regulation Regolamento di esecuzione (UE) 2020/746 on drones will come into force, introducing substantial changes, passing from the principle of operation as a discriminator between the different requirements for piloting a drone of the regulation ENAC drones based on the risk principle envisaged by the EASA regulation.

Essentially, the European drone regulation identifies and defines three different categories of operations with drones:

  • Open (for low-risk operations),
  • Specific (for medium risk operations),
  • Certified (for high-risk operations).
Easa Drones Category Risks

EASA – Drones categories

Open category

The main aspects that regulate the “Open” category are the following:

  • includes all drones up to 25kg of MTOW (MTOW – see Drones – Acronyms & Terms),
  • allows you to fly up to 120 meters above ground and no further,
  • allows flight in VLOS (Visual Line of Sight – see Drones – Acronyms & Terms),
  • the pilot must be at least 16 years old,
  • the flight must take place at a distance from people,
  • prevented from flying in no fly zones,
  • the operation does not imply the request for authorizations,
  • the drone must have CE mark,
  • allows flight in FVP (First Person of View – see Drones – Acronyms & Terms), with the aid of an external observer.
Easa Categoria Aperta - requsiisti base

Basic requirements Open category to be respected

With reference to the CE stamp, the aircraft must have an “additional” stamp, in relation to the class to which they belong, or the following product classes:

Classes Drones Uav Open Category

Classes Drones – UAVs Open Category

Drones belonging to the “Open” category must also:

have a geo-awareness function or alarm signaling in relation to proximity situations,
have a remote ID transmission system, for remote identification of the drone.

Subcategories of the Open category

In practice, all low-risk operations (and therefore drones up to a certain MTOW) fall into the Open category. The “Open” category includes three sub-categories A1, A2 and A3 with operational restrictions. I

n relation to the type of sub-categories it belongs to, it is therefore possible to fly close to people but always in VLOS (Visual Line of Sight), but not on gatherings of people.

EASA Summary Category Rules A1 A2 A3

Summary Table – Limitations and Requirements

The table therefore provides the criteria and limitations for each category, as well as the requirements that must be met.

Category A1

Three subclasses fall into category A1: vehicles of private construction, class C0 and class C1.

So, if for example, if you are in class C1 with your drone, the following limitations apply and the following requirements must be met:

Limitations:

  • weight of the drone between 250 gr and 900 gr,
  • Inability to fly on people not involved, prohibited from flying over groups of people, with Follow me mode active – max distance from the pilot 50 m.

Requirements:

  • training knowledge of the user manual, having followed the online training course and passed the theoretical exam,
  • age: Be 16,
  • technical requirements of the drone: user manual, EASA information, max horizontal speed 68 km/h, no sharp edges, selectable altitude limits, mechanical strength, Data Link loss management, sound power level, low battery level warning, lights,
  • geo-awareness: active,
  • remote ID: required, with unique serial number conforming to ANSI/CTA2063 standard,
  • operator registration: required.

The above information can be deduced from the table :

EASA Open Category C1 Class

EASA Regulations – Open Category – Sub category C1

And so on.

Category A2

In category A2, class C2 falls, with drones whose weight is between 900 grams and 4 Kg. The limitations and requirements are the following:

EASA A2 Category Sub Class C2 Contents

Open Category – sub category C2

The peculiarity of this category is that with the drone it is possible to fly close to people but not above!

Category A3

The A3 category includes three classes: A3, A4 and private construction. The type of UAV-drones that falls into this case has a take-off weight between 4 and 25 kg. Drones belonging to this category, strictly speaking, as they belong to the “Open” category, can only fly far from people.

The reading of the constraints and requirements is similar to that described in the previous sub-categories.

EASA Open Category A3 Releated Sub Categories

Sub categories C3 and C4 of the Open Category

Note that the age restriction for piloting set by the Open category is 16 years except for toy drones.

It is also clear that for people not involved, repeatedly mentioned as a limitation to flight in the various sub-categories of the “Open” category, are meant those people who, being nearby, are not involved with flight operations (people who stop or walk in the vicinity, etc.). therefore the pilot must carefully evaluate the situation before flying and avoid flying on people who are not involved.

Specific category

The Specific category concerns the more specialized flight operations and also includes those cases which are not part of the “Open” category. In other words, if the activity to be carried out with the drone does not fall within those provided for by the “Open” category, the operator of the UAS (drone) is obliged to request an authorization from the competent authority of the country where the UAS is registered.

The flights in the Specific category – authorized – as specified by the implementing regulation, also allow the flight above 120 meters, the possibility of flight outside the pilot’s field of vision – BLOS (see Drones – Acronyms & Terms), above gatherings of people and in uncontrolled (F and G) and controlled airport areas.

Specific Category - limits

Specific Category – Limits

As already mentioned, all this must be authorized by the competent authorities, by submitting an authorization request.

However, in order to streamline both the bureaucratic aspects and to allow the carrying out of those simplified operations, which fall into one of the standard scenarios, with limitations similar to those of the Open category, it is possible to carry out the activity with the drone without requesting an operational authorization.

The following table therefore highlights both the operational requirements, the type of authorization and the limitations required in the Specific category.

Specifc Category Summary Table

Requisiti Categoria Specifica
Specific Category Requirements Table

The need to register in the member state in which the UAS operator resides is therefore essential for carrying out all the operations in the Specific category.

For the purposes of the operations to be carried out in the Specific category we limit ourselves to examining the first two: operations with risk and operations in standard scenarios STS1 and STS2.

Category specific operations with risk

For operations that present a higher risk, an in-depth risk assessment – SORA (Specific Operations Risks Assessment) must be carried out by the UAS operator.

The purpose of the SORA is therefore to identify the requirements that must be met in order to guarantee the safety of operations. It is therefore a multi-stage process that targets both the identification of the risks related to operations carried out through an unmanned aircraft, as well as the identification of measures aimed at mitigating risks.

The SORA must be presented to the competent authority. If approved it will then be possible to carry out the related operations.

Standard scenarios

With the European regulation, through opinion 5/2019, EASA proposes two standard scenarios STS1 and STS2. Which define the operating conditions and within which the UAS operator can start operations after submitting a declaration to the competent authority.

Standard scenario STS1 (C5 class)

The STS1 scenario has the following limitations:

  • operations in VLOS,
  • maximum height flight 120 meters,
  • MTMO <25 Kg,
  • maximum speed of 5 m / s if not constrained,
  • no flight over crowds of people
  • area of controlled operations (urban area),
  • controlled area must be defined by the operator in order to ensure non-flight over gatherings of people.

Standard scenario STS2  (C6 class)

The STS2 scenario, which includes higher inherent risks than the STS1 scenario, has the following limitations:

  • operations in VLOS (1 km extended up to 2Km with observer) and BLOS
  • maximum height flight 120 meters,
  • MTMO <25 Kg,
  • maximum speed flight of 50 m/s,
  • no flight over crowds of people
  • controlled (and sparsely populated) area of operations.

The operations in the STS2 scenario can therefore be carried out on larger areas and with fewer limitations regarding speed.

Standard scenario considerations

The requirements of class C5 and C6 of the standard scenarios derive from the expansion of the requirements of class C3 of the Open category.

The standard scenarios are therefore suitable for carrying out those activities such as aerial photogrammetry, inspections and surveys with drones.

It should also be noted that according to the EASA European regulation on drones, the carrying out of operations with drones in standard scenarios therefore require a declaration and do not require authorization if the requirements envisaged by the standard scenarios are met.

Certified category

The Certified category concerns high-risk flight operations, relating to drones of greater size and weight, and the main aspects that govern this category are the following:

  • fly over crowds of people,
  • dangerous goods transport,
  • people transport,
  • authorization subject to risk assessment,
  • operational requirements in relation to the type of operations to be performed,
  • remote pilot certificate,
  • certificate of navigability of the drone.

As you can easily understand, this is an authorization and operational process truly linked to very specific activities that go beyond commercial and professional drones.

In summary

The contents of the previous paragraphs relating to the EASA regulation on drones are summarized in the following info-graphics:

EASA European Drones Regulation - 4mydrone Infographic

EASA European Drones Regulation – 4mydrone Infographic

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Easa Regulation Open Category Details 4mydrone

Easa Regulation – Open Category Details – 4mydrone

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Easa Regulation Specific Category Details 4mydrone

Easa Regulation – Specific Category Details – 4mydrone

The info-graphics are available for download at this link.

In the next post, a parallel will be made between the content of the ENAC regulation and the European EASA 2019/947 regulation on drones in order to focus on the salient elements to be kept in mind when the new European regulation on drones will be effective.

Blog articles related to the topic:


Note regarding the images: The cover image was created by 4mydrone. The drone icon in the cover image and in the info-graphics, as well as the “pilot” and “drone” icons, are taken from pixabay.com, free for commercial use and without any request for attribution. The authors are respectively: OpenClipart-Vectors and karlrots. The icons used in the info-graphics, free for commercial use, relating to the “thumbs down” and “bullet points” are taken from Iconfinder.com – authors Kokota and Anastasya Bolshakova in Developer Set. The info-graphics were created by 4mydrone . 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 – 11/03/2021

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