Unmanned Air Systems (UAS)
22/07/2020 EASA publishes FAQ on European Drones Regulation
EASA published its first set of FAQs on the European drones regulation: Regulations (EU) 2019/947 and 2019/945.
With the regulation becoming applicable on December 31, 2020, phase 1 of the FAQs focuses on the Open and Specific category and is designed to support the drone community in flying and operating drones safely.
The FAQs explain the regulation and help understanding of key concepts. They are divided into the following categories:
- Regulations on UAS (drone) explained
- Registration requirements
- Training requirements
- Operational Authorisation Requirements
- Requirements once in the air
- General requirements
- Drones without CE class markings
- Racing and/or flying drones with goggles (FPV)
- Building your own drones (privately built)
- Providing services (commercial and other) with drone(s)
- Non-EU visitor / Drone Operator
- Model aircraft
- Light drone operator certificate (LUC)
20/07/2020 Commission Delegated Regulation 2020/1058
Regulation (EU) 2019/945 as regards the introduction of two new unmanned aircraft systems classes.
20/07/2020 EASA publishes FAQ on European Drones Regulation
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has published a proposal of airworthiness standards for the certification of the vast majority of light unmanned aircraft. These standards will greatly contribute to the safe operation of drones for a wide variety of services, such as parcel delivery in urban environments, railways and power lines inspection or delivery of essential supplies into crisis zones.
The proposed standards, now open for public consultation, are known as Special Condition Light UAS and will be applicable to unmanned aircraft under 600 Kg operated in the specific or certified category in accordance with regulation (EU) 2019 / 947, which enters into force on December 31, 2020. Most drones currently under certification in EASA will adopt this certification basis.
“This proposal forms part of EASA’s wider initiative to ensure drones can be operated safely and acceptably, particularly in areas which are densely occupied by people and moving or static objects,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said.
“With large parts of the economy looking at ways to use drones to streamline their operations, it is essential that we have strong rules in place to ensure there is no danger to people or property from drone usage, and that noise levels are acceptable. It is our job to ensure that Europe’s citizens are kept safe as drone use increases,” he added.
04/06/2020 Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/746 issued
Amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 as regards postponing dates of application of certain measures in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic
12/05/2020 Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639 issued
Amending Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 as regards standard scenarios for operations executed in or beyond the visual line of sight
16/04/2020 NPA 2020-07
The objective of this Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) is to clarify the conditions under which unmanned aircraft system (UAS) beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations over a populated area or an assembly of people can be authorised in the ‘specific’ category.
This NPA proposes to amend the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. The AMC and GM to Article 11 ‘Rules for conducting an operational risk assessment’ of said Regulation are proposed to be amended to define the intrinsic UAS ground risk classes (GRCs) for the following operational scenarios:
- BVLOS operations over a populated area; and
- BVLOS operations over an assembly of people.
The proposed amendments are expected to increase safety, improve harmonisation among EASA Member States, and facilitate societal acceptance of UAS BVLOS operations in the ‘specific’ category.
06/04/2020 EASA publishes Opinion on drone use
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published the first view worldwide on the use and control of drones in an urban environment, balancing the desire to maximise the commercial and convenience benefits of drones against the need to ensure the safety and privacy of citizens and the potential environmental impact on our cities.
The challenge of integrating drones into urban environments is that these areas are already densely used by ground traffic, other types of air traffic – such as commercial airplanes, other civil aviation and police or hospital helicopter services – and also people, concerned about noise, privacy and the possibility of low-level flights causing accidental injury.
The term “U-space” has been adopted to describe the management of unmanned aircraft traffic to ensure the safe interaction with other entities using the same space in any location, not just urban areas.
07/11/2019 Standard scenarios for UAS operations
EASA has published it’s Opinion on operating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) with the objective of providing cost-efficient rules for low-risk UAS operations in the ‘specific’ category.
It proposes the addition of two standard scenarios (STSs) amending (EU) 2019/947, defining the conditions when UAS operators can start an operation after having submitted a declaration to the competent authority. Moreover, the Opinion proposes the introduction of two new Parts to (EU) 2019/945, including the technical requirements that UAS need to meet in order to be operated in the STSs, and establishing two new UAS classes — classes C5 and C6. The conditions to conduct the STSs are based on the in-service experience of some Member States and they have been validated through the application of the specific operations risk assessment (SORA).
EASA expects that the proposed changes will increase the cost-effectiveness for UAS operators, manufacturers and competent authorities, and to improve the harmonisation of UAS operations in the MSs.
12/07/2019 Regular update to (EU) 2019/947 and (EU) 2019/945
The unmanned aircraft industry is rapidly evolving and hence, EASA is committed to updating the corresponding rules regularly to ensure that they are fit for purpose, cost-effective and can be implemented.
EASA states that regular updates to the two Regulations (EU) 2019/947 and 2019/945, shall be issued when the experience gained highlights a need for improvements or to resolve a safety issue. They will also consider updates when, based on the experience gained by the Member States when evaluating applications for authorisations in the specific category, an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operation is considered mature to be covered by a standard scenario.
The process for the regular updates, along with the scope is described in this rulemaking activity (ToR RMT.0729). Any subsequent changes to the soft law (AMC/GM) will be managed through another rulemaking activity, notably ToR RMT.0730
11/06/2019 Drone regulation
(EU) 2019/947 outlines the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft. Some highlights summarising the requirements are here:-
- Unmanned aircraft, irrespective of their mass, can operate within the same Single European Sky airspace, alongside manned aircraft, whether airplanes or helicopters.
- As for manned aviation, a uniform implementation of and compliance with rules and procedures should apply to operators, including remote pilots, of unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft system (‘UAS’), as well as for the operations of such unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft system.
- Considering the specific characteristics of UAS operations, they should be as safe as those in manned aviation.
- Technologies for unmanned aircraft allow a wide range of possible operations. Requirements related to the airworthiness, the organisations, the persons involved in the operation of UAS and unmanned aircraft operations should be set out in order to ensure safety for people on the ground and other airspace users during the operations of unmanned aircraft.
- The rules and procedures applicable to UAS operations should be proportionate to the nature and risk of the operation or activity and adapted to the operational characteristics of the unmanned aircraft concerned and the characteristics of the area of operations, such as the population density, surface characteristics, and the presence of buildings.
- The risk level criteria as well as other criteria should be used to establish three categories of operations: the ‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified’ categories.
- Proportionate risks mitigation requirements should be applicable to UAS operations according to the level of risk involved, the operational characteristics of the unmanned aircraft concerned and the characteristics of the area of operation.
- Operations in the ‘open’ category, which should cover operations that present the lowest risks, should not require UAS that are subject to standard aeronautical compliance procedures, but should be conducted using the UAS classes that are defined in existing Regulations
- Operations in the ‘specific’ category should cover other types of operations presenting a higher risk and for which a thorough risk assessment should be conducted to indicate which requirements are necessary to keep the operation safe.
- A system of declaration by an operator should facilitate the enforcement of this Regulation in case of low risk operations conducted in the ‘specific’ category for which a standard scenario has been defined with detailed mitigation measures.
- Operations in the ‘certified’ category should, as a principle, be subject to rules on certification of the operator, and the licensing of remote pilots, in addition to the certification of the aircraft pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/945.
- Whilst mandatory for the ‘certified category’, for the ‘specific’ category a certificate delivered by the competent authorities for the operation of an unmanned aircraft, as well as for the personnel, including remote pilots and organisations involved in those activities, or for the aircraft pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/945 could also be required.
- Rules and procedures should be established for the marking and identification of unmanned aircraft and for the registration of operators of unmanned aircraft or certified unmanned aircraft.
- Operators of unmanned aircraft should be registered where they operate an unmanned aircraft which, in case of impact, can transfer, to a human, a kinetic energy above 80 Joules or the operation of which presents risks to privacy, protection of personal data, security or the environment.
- Studies have demonstrated that unmanned aircraft with a take-off mass of 250 g or more would present risks to security and therefore UAS operators of such unmanned aircraft should be required to register themselves when operating such aircraft in the ‘open’ category.
- Considering the risks to privacy and protection of personal data, operators of unmanned aircraft should be registered if they operate an unmanned aircraft which is equipped with a sensor able to capture personal data. However, this should not be the case when the unmanned aircraft is considered to be a toy.
- National registration systems should comply with the applicable Union and national law on privacy and processing of personal data and the information stored in those registrations systems should be easily accessible.
- UAS operators and remote pilots should ensure that they are adequately informed about applicable Union and national rules relating to the intended operations, in particular with regard to safety, privacy, data protection, liability, insurance, security and environmental protection.
- Some areas, such as hospitals, gatherings of people, installations and facilities like penal institutions or industrial plants, top-level and higher-level government authorities, nature conservation areas or certain items of transport infrastructure, can be particularly sensitive to some or all types of UAS operations. This should be without prejudice to the possibility for Member States to lay down national rules to make subject to certain conditions the operations of unmanned aircraft for reasons falling outside the scope of this Regulation, including environmental protection, public security or protection of privacy and personal data in accordance with the Union law.
- Unmanned aircraft noise and emissions should be minimised as far as possible taking into account the operating conditions and various specific characteristics of individual Member States, such as the population density, where noise and emissions are of concern. In order to facilitate the societal acceptance of UAS operations, Regulation (EU) 2019/945 includes maximum level of noise for unmanned aircraft operated close to people in the ‘open’ category. In the ‘specific’ category there is a requirement for the operator to develop guidelines for its remote pilots so that all operations are flown in a manner that minimises nuisances to people and animals.
- Since model aircraft are considered as UAS and given the good safety level demonstrated by model aircraft operations in clubs and associations, there should be a seamless transition from the different national systems to the new Union regulatory framework, so that model aircraft clubs and associations can continue to operate as they do today, as well as taking into accountexisting best practices in the Member States.
- In addition, considering the good level of safety achieved by aircraft of class C4 as provided in Annex to this Regulation, low risk operations of such aircraft should be allowed to be conducted in the ‘open’ category. Such aircraft, often used by model aircraft operators, are comparatively simpler than other classes of unmanned aircraft and should therefore not be subject to disproportionate technical requirements.
(EU) 2019/945 outlines the requirements on unmanned aircraft systems and on third-country operators of unmanned aircraft systems. Some key elements of this rulemaking are summarisedbelow:-
- The UAS whose operation presents the lowest risks and that belong to the ‘open’ category of operations should not be subject to classic aeronautical compliance procedures. The possibility to establish Community harmonisation legislation as referred to in paragraph 6 of the Basic Regulation should be used for those UAS. Consequently, it is necessary to set out the requirements that address the risks posed by the operation of those UAS, taking full account of other applicable Union harmonisation legislation.
- When manufacturers place a UAS on the market with the intention to make it available for operations under the ‘open’ category and therefore affix a class identification label on it, they should ensure compliance of the UAS with the requirements of that class.
- Considering the good level of safety achieved by model aircraft already made available on the market, it is appropriate to create the C4 class of UAS which should not be subject to disproportionate technical requirements for the benefit of model aircraft operators.
- This Regulation should also apply to UAS, which are considered as toys. UAS that are not toysshould comply with the relevant essential health and safety requirements in so far as this Directive applies to them, to the extent that those health and safety requirements are not intrinsically linked to the safety of the flight by UAS. Where those health and safety requirements are intrinsically linked to the safety of the flight, only this Regulation should apply.
- This Regulation should apply to all forms of supply, including distance selling.
- Member States should take the necessary steps to ensure that UAS intended to be operated in the ‘open’ category are made available on the market and put into service only where they do not compromise the health and safety of persons, domestic animals or property, when normally used.
- In order to provide citizens with high level of environmental protection, it is necessary to limit the noise emissions to the greatest possible extent. Sound power limitations applicable to UAS intended to be operated in the ‘open’ category might be reviewed at the end of the transitional periods as defined in Regulation (EU) 2019/947
- The manufacturer, having detailed knowledge of the design and production process, is best placed to carry out the conformity assessment procedure of UAS intended to be operated in the ‘open’ category. Conformity assessment should therefore remain solely the obligation of the manufacturer.
- The distributor who makes a UAS intended to be operated in the ‘open’ category available on the market should act with due care to ensure that its handling of the product does not adversely affect its compliance. Both importers and distributors are expected to act with due care in relation to the requirements applicable when placing or making products available on the market.
There is a considerable amount of information contained within the full body of these two regulations and we recommend that after reading this summary, interested parties fully familiarise themselves with the actual text.
16/07/2018 UK CAA AN (amendment) Order - UAS
On 30 May 2018, the UK Government published an amendment to the ANO which contains its changes to the legislation regarding the operation of small unmanned aircraft. The amendment is published as Statutory Instrument (SI) 2018 No. 623. Some articles (parts) of the amendment come into force on 30 July 2018, but others take a further 16 months, coming into force on 30 November 2019.
The SI is structured in the form of a series of textual changes that need to be made to the original ANO document. While the amendment has introduced some ‘completely new’ articles in which the full text is given, the meaning of many of the other changes cannot be fully understood by reading the SI on its own. By way of assistance, a consolidated version of the ANO articles that have been affected by this amendment can be found at Annex A.
Although the SI document consists of eight pages of text, the areas covered by the amendment are relatively few and can be summarised as:
- Effective from 30 July 2018
- A 400 ft operating height limitation for all small unmanned aircraft
- A new limitation on the closest distance that small unmanned aircraft weighing 7 kg or less may be flown near specific types of aerodrome Changes to terminology with the introduction of the terms ‘remote pilot’ and ‘SUA operator’ in place of the previously-used term ‘person in charge’
- Minor corrections to the ANO 2016 to provide clarification or to correct previous errors
- Effective from 30 November 2019
- A requirement for the registration of SUA operators
- A requirement for the competency of remote pilots to be tested
04/06/2018 European regs system to accommodate UAS
Further to NPA 2017-05 reported last year, EASA has updated the RMT as reports on safety occurrences with civil drones are increasing across Europe. There are currently no harmonised rules at EU level, and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operations still depend on individual authorisations issued by every member state, which is a burdensome administrative process that stifles business development and innovation. This rulemaking task, RMT.0230 Issue 2, is far reaching and affects private and commercial operators, competent authorities, flight crews (incl remote crews), maintenance staff, manufacturers and providers of air traffic services.
The objectives of this specific RMT are:
- to ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS, thus enabling operators to safely operate UAS in the single European sky, especially for higher risk operations;
- to foster innovation and development of in the field of UAS;
- to harmonise the regulatory framework in all member states in order to enhance clarity, fill gaps and address the inconsistencies a fragmented system has (e.g. cross-border operation of UA);
- to foster an operation-centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based regulatory framework taking into account various important aspects such as privacy, personal data protection, security and safety.
A key issue is striking a balance between establishing a proportionate regulatory framework and fostering innovation and growth — indeed, not well-designed and burdensome rules for UAS could hinder market development.
12/06/2017 Regulatory framework for the operation of drones
Further to last months article relating to the regulatory framework for the operation of drones, NPA 2017-05(A) and NPA 2017-05(B), the consultation period has been extended until the 15th September 2017.
04/05/2017 Regulatory framework for the operation of drones
EASA has published two NPA’s, NPA 2017-05(A) and NPA 2017-05(B) which relate to the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). These UAS with a maximum take-off mass (MTOM) of less than 150 kg falls within the competence of the EU Member States. EASA states that this leads to a fragmented regulatory system hampering the development of a single EU market for UAS and cross-border UAS operations. A new proposed Basic Regulation (hereinafter referred to as ‘the new Regulation’), currently under discussion aims to solve this issue, by extending the competence of the EU to regulate all UAS regardless of their MTOM.
In view of the adoption of this new Regulation, the objective of NPA 2017-05 is:
- to ensure an operation-centric, proportionate, risk and performance-based regulatory framework for all UAS operations conducted in the open and specific category;
- to ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS;
- to foster the development of the UAS market; and
- to contribute to enhancing privacy, data protection, and security.
This NPA proposes to create a new regulation defining the measures to mitigate the risk of operations in:
- the open category through a combination of limitations, operational rules, requirements for the competence of the remote pilot, as well as technical requirements for the UAS; and
- the specific category through a system including a risk assessment conducted by the operator before starting an operation, or the operator complying with a standard scenario, or the operator holding a certificate with privileges.
The new Regulation will provide flexibility to member states mainly by allowing them to create zones on their territory where the use of UAS would be prohibited, limited or on the contrary facilitated.
Pursuant to the proposed new Basic Regulation, market product legislation (CE marking) ensures compliance with the technical requirements for mass-produced UAS operated in the open category. A dedicated Annex (Part-MRK) is proposed to define the conditions for making UAS available on the market.
The new regulation is expected to increase the level of safety of UAS operations, harmonise legislation among the EU MSs, as well as create an EU market that will reduce the cost of the UAS and allow cross-border operations.
Note: sub-NPA 2017-05 (A) contains the explanatory note and the proposed draft rules, whereas sub-NPA 2017-05 (B) contains the full impact assessment (IA) for this RMT.
As this technology and legislation develops, organisations and competent authorities are advised to keep abreast of developments and familiarise themselves with the content of these NPA’s and make comments where appropriate prior to the deadline of 12th August 2017.
22/12/2016 EASA launches a rulemaking task for drones
Reports across the EU on safety occurrences with civil drones are increasing. At the same time, EASA states that the administrative process is becoming burdensome which is stifling business development and innovation. There are currently no harmonised rules at EU level, and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operations still depend on individual authorisations issued by every Member State. Rulemaking task RMT.0230 is launched to address these issues. Manufacturers, operators (private and commercial), competent authorities, flight crews, maintenance and airworthiness staff amongst others are recommended to familiarise themselves with the details of the RMT.
10/11/2016 Draft rules for drones
Plans to update EU civil aviation safety rules to address emerging risks were amended and approved by Transport and Tourism Committee MEPs. The updated EU regulation will also introduce the EU-level requirements for drones, to ensure safety and privacy.
Quoting Marian-Jean Marinescu (EPP, RO) “EU aviation safety standards are already high. Even so, the growing use of drones and threats from terrorism and cyber-attacks require new rules to ensure aviation safety and security. At the same time, these rules should be performance and risk based - ultralight or business aviation should not have to meet the same requirements”.
“Unmanned aircraft have great potential for the future. Many applications are already providing various services, with better quality and results. At the same time, without proper discipline, these could give rise to serious safety and security problems. Registration and identification are basic requirements. Unmanned aircraft with a take-off mass higher than 250 grammes and all certified ones should be registered”, he added.
A number of topics were discussed and agreed:
- Identify risks early
- The committee text includes provisions for safety management systems at EU and member state levels to identify potential safety risks earlier. A European Aviation Safety Programme should be drawn up and each EU member state should also establish its own national aviation safety programme and a plan setting out key safety risks for its civil aviation safety system and actions to mitigate them.
- “Socio-economic factors” (e.g. employment conditions) should be taken into account, when identifying risks to aviation safety and mitigating measures, MEPs, add.
- Drones to be registered
- The proposed update would also bring all unmanned aircraft, or drones, within the EU civil aviation framework for the first time, setting out design and operation requirements to ensure privacy and safety. Drones lighter than 150kg fall currently under national competence.
- The EU Commission would be tasked with defining detailed safety rules for drone design and drone flights, such as conditions in which additional equipment is required to limit altitude or access to critical zones (e.g. power plants or airports). The Commission should also set out conditions and procedures for mandatory registration, marking and identification of unmanned aircraft, say MEPs. All certified drones, plus those that are not certified and have a maximum take-off weight above 250 grammes, should be registered”, they add.
- Flights over conflict zones and unlawful act risks
- The draft rules would also empower EASA to issue directives and recommendations to address risks that might arise from unlawful acts or from flight paths that cross regions that are the scene of armed conflict. The EASA could take measures to remedy vulnerabilities in aircraft design too.
- Emissions and noise
- Aircraft and parts must be designed to minimise noise and emissions, in compliance with EU law and international standards, adds the text.
08/11/2016 Integration of drones into European airspace
Multiple agencies including EASA and the EDA are stepping up efforts to address the integration of drones into the European aviation and air traffic management (ATM) system.
At a meeting of the organisations’ on 27 October, a new coordination mechanism was agreed upon which aims to address research and development (R&D), as well as regulatory requirements related to all categories of remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).
It was agreed that these requirements should take into account the "dual-use strategy on RPAS regulation", the preliminary implementation roadmap of which was adopted by EDA Member States’ Defence Ministers earlier this year, for the integration of military drones into the European aviation and ATM system.
The coordination mechanism will look at ATM requirements for drone integration and their technical implications. The findings of which will be used in order to support the definition and coordination of policy initiatives with the relevant Commission services.
The overall ATM requirements for drone integration will be incorporated into the next update of the European ATM Master Plan – the roadmap for ATM modernisation planned for 2017.
If anyone has a deeper interest in this strategy, then we recommend you to read more updates on the EASA website.
06/10/2016 Study into Geo-Limitations for Drones (UAS)
The growth in numbers of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or “drones”, is matched by the significant range of benefits that their use promises. Those benefits will not be fully realised, however, unless there can be confidence that such UAS can be operated safely.
Reports of increasing numbers of safety incidents have understandably given rise to concern not just among the manned aviation community but amongst UAS manufacturers, operators and the wider public.
Responding to a call from EASA, representatives of the National Aviation Authorities of Finland, France and United Kingdom joined with EASA specialists to form a Task Force to examine the risk to manned aircraft from the operation of UAS (mainly in the “Open” category) and to consider how best to manage the risk. The Task Force assessed the current understanding of the risk, collated the actions of manufacturers, users and authorities to manage the risk, identified emerging best practice and looked at future options.
The Task Force focused its attention on the means to prevent a conflict with the potential consequence of a collision between a small unmanned aircraft and a large commercial aeroplane operating into a major aerodrome. The Task Force recognised that this constitutes a primary threat to aviation safety and lends itself to mitigation through “geo-limitations” and associated technology. Whilst there are opportunities in product design, operating practices and regulation to manage that risk, too little is known about the likelihood and consequences of such a collision to optimise those opportunities. Thus, further work, including research activities, is needed on understanding that risk.
Since the beginning of its work, the Task Force identified the need to establish globally agreed terminology that includes “geo-limitation” and related terms (e.g. “geo-fencing”), as well as the need to develop the associated concepts, the main of which the Task Force believes to have captured in this report. The definitions of the key concepts used in this report are included in Appendix C.
In forming its views, The Task Force analysed available information and then gathered data and advice by consulting a wide range of stakeholders involved in UAS manufacture, operation and regulation around the World. That consultation was performed in two ways: a survey questionnaire addressing a wide variety of stakeholders, and meetings with some stakeholders (in particular with a number of industry representatives). Appendixes contain both the questionnaire that was circulated and the description of stakeholders' engagement.
Having analysed this information, the Task Force presented a range of conclusions and recommendations. Among the main Task Force conclusions are:
- Geo-limitation solutions cannot be expected prevent malevolent behaviour, a rationale that applies to many of the Task Force recommendations. Thus, the Task Force focused on the prevention of the unintentional breach of limits.
- The Task Force noted that EASA’s work to define rules at EU level for UAS operations had yet to conclude and would, in fact, take note of this report. The current lack of information on a number of aspects prevents the production of the required impact assessments. In this context, the Task Force assessed the foreseeable geo-limitation solutions, their benefits and limitations, what would be needed to make them possible and what further work was needed to accelerate implementation of those solutions.
- With regard to geo-limitations and their implementation, the Task Force identified as main elements:
- Provision to UAS operators of up to date, accurate and easily understandable information that helps them to determine restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to operate. This information could be more easily provided to UAS operators by integrating it into the remote pilot station or make it accessible through a standalone mobile application.
- UAS performance limitations, including height or altitude limitation and range (horizontal distance to the remote pilot station or to the take-off point) limitation. The Task Force favoured height limitation as the main performance limitation that can effectively contribute to mitigate the risk of collision not only in the vicinity of aerodromes.
- Requirement for UAS designs to include built-in features that warn the remote pilot when the unmanned aircraft is starting up in, or approaching to, a zone subject to UAS restrictions.
- Requirement for UAS to incorporate geo-fencing, which requires position-sensing and control functions, sufficient to comply with any restrictions on where and when a UAS might operate.
- The Task Force concluded that, when establishing geo-limitations of sensitive zones, Member States use the concept of Prohibited and Restricted zones, as defined in the rules of the air.
- To respect these geo-limitations through the use of automatic functions (i.e. geo-fencing, performance limitation functions) and, at the same time, allow the removal of such limitations for authorised operators, the Task Force identified the need to define “hardlocked” and “soft-locked” geo-limitations and the corresponding un-locking processes.
- When regulating the use of such automatic functions the Task Force noted the need to keep rules technology-neutral and to provide the UAS manufacturing industry with appropriate scope to generate solutions and to propose any necessary technology standards. Besides, product requirements and standards must be applicable to UAS operating in Europe, and not just those produced by European manufacturers.
- When mandating automatic geo-limitation functions, the Task Force concluded that the mandate should apply to all products for operation in a given sub-category within the Open category, those sub-categories being established so as not to exclude the majority of UAS sold for recreational use. Mechanisms to grant exemptions in order to cope with specific needs and situations might be necessary.
- With regard to mandating a retrofit of these automatic functions to the existing UAS fleet, the Task Force concluded that, considering the relatively short average lifetime of UAS products and difficulties (or impossibility) of implementation, retrofitting should not be mandated and, instead, further operational limitations should be considered where appropriate.
- Regarding model aircraft, the Task Force concluded that current rights for their operation granted by Member States should be grandfathered. As Member States are best placed to deal with this particular segment of Unmanned Aviation, no “geo-limitation” functions should be required for that segment at European regulations level. Besides, in most cases, the technology involved in model aircraft would not make it feasible to implement automatic geo-limitation functions.
- For homebuilt UAS, the Task Force concluded that requirements similar to those for consumer-retailed UAS should apply in terms of, at least, pilot competencies, registration and electronic identification. Similarly, the COTS guidance navigation control components of homebuilt UAS should be subject to the product requirements applicable to UAS that are subject to geo-limitation function requirements.
- Regarding industry standards, the Task Force identified a number of “geo-limitation” related aspects as candidates. The Task Force identified EUROCAE as the organisation best suited to lead the European effort to develop standards working in coordination with ESOs and other industry standard bodies. Any standards must be a good fit to the characteristics of the small UAS business and be able to achieve tangible results that can be implemented by the small UAS industry in the short timeframe that this particular business segment requires.
These conclusions led the Task Force to formulate a number of recommendations, which have been presented throughout the report and put together in section 7.2.
Finally, it must be noted that this Report is just an initial step to address “Geo-limitation” aspects for UAS. The content of the Report, and its recommendations in particular, indicate follow on activities that are needed.
04/05/2016 Aircraft and drone collision risk
EASA has created a task force to assess the risk of collision between drones and aircraft.
The task force will:
- Review all relevant occurrences including the occurrences collected by the European Member States,
- Analyse the existing studies on the subject of impact between drones and aircraft,
- Study the vulnerabilities of aircraft (windshields, engines, and airframe) taking into account the different categories of aircraft (large aeroplanes, general aviation, and helicopters) and their associated design and operational requirements,
- Consider the possibility to do further research and perform actual tests (for example on windshields).
EASA will chair the task force which will include representatives of aircraft and engine manufacturers. It will consult the European member states and other relevant stakeholders as well as foreign authorities. It is expected that at the end of July, it will publish its results and will organise a workshop with stakeholders to present and discuss its findings and recommendations.
The regulatory framework for the safe operations of drones in Europe currently being developed by EASA already addresses the issue of collision between drones and aeroplanes. A combination of measures are envisaged such as: operate in visual line of sight, fly under 150 m height above ground, be equipped with identification and geo-limitation functions and be registered. Any operation of drones close to aerodromes would require a specific authorization from the national aviation authority based on a risk assessment. EASA has recently published this proposal to create common rules for operating drones in Europe.
We welcome the creation of this task force and look forward to seeing its findings and recommendations. We would recommend that all interested parties fully engage to improve the safety framework on this high public interest topic.
18/12/2015 EASA formalise its Technical Opinion on future rules for RPAS
Further to our article, dated 31/07/2015 EASA has now issued its Technical Opinion on future rules for civil drones (RPAS).
This Technical Opinion is the result of the consultation performed with A-NPA 2015-10. It has been developed in parallel to the draft modifications to the Basic Regulation, included in the 'Aviation Strategy to Enhance the Competitiveness of the EU Aviation Sector’ (‘Aviation Strategy’), published on 7 December 2015.
It includes 27 concrete proposals for a regulatory framework and for low-risk operations of all unmanned aircraft irrespective of their maximum certified take-off mass (MTOM). This regulatory framework is operation centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based, and establishes three categories as follows:
- ‘Open’ category (low risk): Safety is ensured through compliance with operational limitations, mass limitations as a proxy of energy, product safety requirements, and a minimum set of operational rules.
- ‘Specific’ category (medium risk): Authorisation by a national aviation authority (NAA), possibly assisted by a qualified entity (QE), following a risk assessment performed by the operator. A manual of operations lists the risk mitigation measures.
- ‘Certified’ category (higher risk): Requirements comparable to those for manned aviation. Oversight by NAA (issue of licences and approval of maintenance, operations, training, ATM/ANS and aerodromes organisations) and by EASA (design and approval of foreign organisations).
The present Technical Opinion does not include new draft legal text beyond the one that has been proposed by the Aviation Strategy. Its purpose is to lay the foundation for future work, illustrate the contents of the draft changes to the Basic Regulation and serve as guidance for Member States (MS) to develop or modify their regulations on unmanned aircraft.
The concept proposed by A-NPA 2015-10 has been kept, but adaptations and clarifications have been introduced in several parts. Exact definitions and applicability of some proposals will have to be determined by thorough regulatory impact assessment (RIA) during the drafting of implementing rules (IRs). EASA considers this Technical Opinion, including a road map presenting the steps to be taken in the future, is only one step in the development of rules for unmanned aircraft.
Our recommendation to industry remains unchanged: all parties, including individuals, manufacturers, operators, ATM/ANS providers, and aerodromes should become fully cognisant with the content of this Technical Opinion and the broader Aviation Strategy so that they may be better prepared to engage with rulemaking process and exploit all possible commercial and operational opportunities in this exciting area, safely.
10/09/2015 UK Reporting of Unnotified Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) Activity
In its Information Notice IN-2015/085, the UK CAA reminds everyone of the risks associated with RPAS operations and the need to notify ATC units when they are conducted near aerodromes.
There has been a marked increase in the number of AIRPROX involving SUAs where such activity has occurred within controlled airspace but without prior notification to ATC, or the SUA activity has occurred at heights of more than 400 feet above the surface. A common theme through these reports is that the SUA encounters have been reported at altitudes above 1500ft. SUA operations at such an altitude is generally beyond the height at which the person in charge of an SUA will be able to maintain meaningful visual contact with it whilst maintaining an awareness of the airspace around it.
Due to the random nature of such SUA sightings and the fact that the SUA will not normally be tracked on radar, their unknown flight duration and the potential for inaccuracies within the sighting report, the provision of traffic avoidance advice to aircraft can be problematic. As a controller can only become aware of non-controlled SUA activity when they or another controller, a pilot or vigilant and concerned third party observes and reports SUA activity, information obtained from these sighting reports will form the basis of a controller’s traffic provision of information regarding such sightings to potentially affected pilots.
The Information Notice details the phraseology that should be used in the event of unnotified SUA activity being reported.
Any reports of unnotified SUA activity should follow a format similar to that used for activities such as bird reports or windshear and that ATC should use the descriptor of the SUA as provided by the individual making the report. Furthermore, in the absence of updated information (including confirmation of the cessation of such activity), any such reports should continue for up to 30 minutes after the initial report. This follows the precedent associated with bird or windshear reports, and is coincidentally the typical maximum useable battery life of SUAs.
We recommend pilots and operators review this IN and make use of the appropriate terminology when reporting unnotified SUA activity.
10/08/2015 Use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) at Aerodromes
In its Information Notice (IN-2015/063), the UK CAA reminds both Aerodrome and RPAS operators of the restrictions and requirements pertaining to operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) specifically at aerodromes. In particular, where the RPAS is being used for survey purposes this is considered as Aerial Work and does require a Permission from the CAA.
We recomend aerodrome operators and any contracted RPAS operator to review theInformation Notice and referenced documents in full before considering such use of RPAS.
31/07/2015 EASA proposes new rules for “drones” (RPAS)
EASA has published its Advanced NPA, A-NPA 2015-10 on the future rules for RPAS, and refers to these using the vernacular term “drones”.
The drone industry is diverse, innovative and international. It has an enormous potential for growth with the associated possibility to create jobs. To ensure a safe, secure and environmentally friendly development, and to respect the citizens’ legitimate concerns for privacy and data protection, EASA has been tasked by the European Commission — following the Riga Conference and its associated Declaration — to develop a regulatory framework for drone operations as well as concrete proposals for the regulation of low-risk drone operations.
Both aspects are included in this consultation document together with a chapter containing background information. Following this consultation, which shall end in 25 September 2015, EASA will submit a technical opinion to the European Commission by the end of 2015.
The A-NPA reflects the principles laid down in the Riga Declaration. It follows a risk- and performance-based approach; it is progressive- and operation-centric, and it introduces three categories of operations as already proposed in the published EASA Concept of Operations for Drones:
- ‘Open’ category (low risk): safety is ensured through operational limitations, compliance with industry standards, requirements on certain functionalities, and a minimum set of operational rules. Enforcement shall be ensured by the police.
- ‘Specific operation’ category (medium risk): authorisation by National Aviation Authorities (NAAs), possibly assisted by a Qualified Entity (QE) following a risk assessment performed by the operator. A manual of operations shall list the risk mitigation measures.
- ‘Certified’ category (higher risk): requirements comparable to manned aviation requirements. Oversight by NAAs (issue of licences and approval of maintenance, operations, training, Air Traffic Management (ATM)/Air Navigation Services (ANS) and aerodrome organisations) and by EASA (design and approval of foreign organisations).
This regulatory framework will encompass European rules for all drones in all weight classes. The amendments to the Basic Regulation which are under way will reflect the above. This change will be part of the ‘aviation package’ legislative proposal to be issued in November 2015 by the European Commission.
As in our earlier article, dated 11/05/2015, we recommend all personnel and organisations involved in the manufacture and/or operations of RPAS (drones) engage with their competent authority and EASA as rulemaking policy evolves in this rapidly expanding area of technology. More specifically they are now recommended to review the content of this substantial NPA in full and comment to EASA using the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT) before 25 September 2015.
Stakeholders are invited to comment in particular on the issues listed in Chapter 3. Key questions to stakeholders and proposals are included in boxes to make them more visible.
30/06/2015 Commission adopts occurrence reporting criteria Regulation
Further to our article, dated 26/03/2015, the Occurrence Reporting Regulation ((EU) 376/2014) requires occurrence reporting systems to be established at organisation, Member State and Union levels, in view for all relevant civil aviation safety information to be reported, collected, stored, protected, exchanged, disseminated, analysed and followed-up. In addition, it provides for rules limiting the use of information collected to the enhancement of aviation safety and appropriately protecting the reporter and other persons mentioned in occurrence reports in view of ensuring a continued availability of safety information. It applies to all aircraft defined and covered by that Regulation, including manned aircraft and Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
The Regulation requires the Commission to adopt a list classifying occurrences to be referred to when reporting occurrences, under mandatory reporting systems set out therein, and which fall within the categories of that Regulation. A second list is also required to contain a classification of occurrences applicable to aircraft other than complex motor-powered aircraft. This second list should where appropriate, be adapted to the specificities of that aviation sector.
The division in categories of occurrences to be reported provided for in the Regulation was established in order to allow the identification, by the persons designated therein, of the occurrences to be reported by each of them. In line with that objective, the lists of occurrences should be divided following the categories to which reporters should refer, according to their respective situation.
In order to meet the obligations set out above, the Commission adopted Regulation (EU) 2015/1018 and it comes into effect on 15 November 2015.
For the sake of legal clarity, we understand that EASA and the Commission are working on revisions to existing implementing rules, e.g. Part-ORO, Part-M, etc. to ensure alignment of language, etc. In the meantime readers are reminded that these new Regulations are in place, do apply to them and their activities, and must be complied with.
The UK CAA has also issued an Information Notice (IN-2015/065) with an FAQ section. The document is informative and expands upon and clarifies information published elsewhere, however it does contain a minor error on page 3 where it refers to the Implementing Regulation being “due for publication in July 2015”. The Regulation referred to has already been adopted, as stated on page 1.
We recommend that all personnel and organisations that have reporting (and other) obligations under the Occurrence Reporting Regulation familiarise themselves with the criteria laid out in this new Regulation. Organisations must review and revise, as necessary, their own internal occurrence/hazard/threat reporting systems to ensure all applicable events are captured, reported, investigated and followed up as required by the two Regulations referred to.
This new Regulation is not yet reflected on the EASA Regulations (Other) page at the time of writing, two months after its adoption by the Commission. It can only be accessed via the Eur-Lex website, currently.
We are indebted to Diehl Aircabin GmbH for informing us of the publication of this new Regulation after our RegsUpdates were issued last month.
11/05/2015 Drones - EASA follow-up to the Riga Declaration
In its Information Notice IN–2015/039, the UK CAA advises on proceedings at the recent EASA Committee meeting (22-23 April 2015) where EASA presented its initial views on the drone regulatory framework, including the five principles agreed at Riga and the three categories for regulation (OPEN, SPECIFIC, CERTIFIED).
EASA plans to launch a stakeholder consultation on the concept of operations document by the end of June.
We recommend all organisations involved in the manufacture and/or operations of RPAS (drones) follow and, preferably, engage with their competent authority and EASA as rulemaking policy evolves in this rapidly expanding area of technology.
25/03/2015 UK CAA revises its guidance on RPAS operations in UK
Please note: The UK CAA uses the term Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) in the same way that EASA uses the term Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS).
The UK CAA has recently revised its publication: “CAP 722, Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance”.
The document is intended to assist those who are involved in all aspects of the development of RPAS to identify the route to certification, outline the methods by which permission for aerial work may be obtained and ensure that all requirements are met by the RPAS industry. The document highlights the safety requirements that have to be met before a RPAS is allowed to operate in the UK.
Furthermore, the document highlights the safety requirements that have to be met, in terms of airworthiness and operational standards, before a RPAS is allowed to operate in the UK.
In advance of further changes to this document, updated information is contained on the CAA website.
CAP 722 has been completely refreshed and restructured in this sixth edition. Key changes to the document are:
- Complete restructure of the document.
- Updates to all Chapters (including Abbreviations and Glossary of Terms).
- Introduction of a Concept of Operations Approach (ConOps)
- Introduction of the UAS OSC - Unmanned Aircraft System Operating Safety Case (formerly titled Congested Areas Operating Safety Case).
- Introduction of an Approval Requirements Map.
- Removal of Military Operations Chapters.
- Addition of Alternative Means of Compliance to demonstrate Operator Competency.
- Introduction of Restricted Category Qualified Entities.
Given the maturity of this sector of aviation and the associated rulemaking activity, we appreciate that it is highly likely that many actual or would be operators will not be aware of our website or the publication itself. However, we do recommend that anyone involved in the manufacture, supply or operation of RPAS in the UK review the latest changes and incorporate any changes that are applicable to those operations.
Furthermore, the guidance given by the UK CAA could be considered by other competent authorities within Europe and elsewhere as reflecting good practice within this sector of aviation.
12/03/2015 EASA presents new regulatory approach for Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPAS)
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has recently presented its new regulatory approach for safely operating remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). This marks a significant change in the way aviation safety regulations are developed, becoming proportionate to the risks they aim to address.
Called ‘Concept of Operations’, this new approach foresees safe and proportionate rules for the integration of RPAS into the European civil airspace. It gives flexibility to the new industry to mature and innovate, while at the same time ensures the right level of protection for citizens and goods. For example, the concept defines three RPAS categories, with an ‘open category’ at the lower end. For these drones the intention is to have no specific regulations, with the exception of possibly mandating equipment which would implement ‘no-fly-zones’, like cities or critical sites. The safety rules that will be developed at the European level will be based on this ‘Concept of Operations’ and on the regulations already adopted in some EU Member States (notably the United Kingdom). They will be harmonised at the global level by ICAO with new and revised international standards.
‘This concept is the first tangible result of the new regulatory approach in EASA, where we first listen to the users and then we draft rules proportional to the risks’ said Patrick Ky, EASA Executive Director, ‘these rules will ensure a safe and fertile environment for this much promising industry to grow’.
You can read more about the EASA Concept of Operations on its website.
Rulemaking activity will reflect a progressive introduction in non-segregated airspace. The development of the rules will be ‘market driven’, so a detailed mid/long term planning is not provided by EASA, however it has identified the following short term actions:
- Stakeholder consultation on the regulatory framework taking into account the discussions at the Riga Conference (5-6 March 2015) to be published for consultation by middle of 2015
- Stakeholders consultation on concrete regulatory proposal for open category based on the relevant elements of the regulatory framework and existing National rules to be published for consultation in June 2015
- Draft regulatory framework to be presented to the Commission by end 2015
- Concrete regulatory proposals for open category to be presented to the Commission in December 2015
EASA considers these actions as priority actions for 2015, as they address the foundation of the Regulations for “civil drones” and the pressing need to harmonise operations of small drones in Europe. This harmonisation has been identified as a key priority by operators of small drones.
A communication plan should be developed in coordination with the European Commission and the Member States to explain and promote the concepts included in the regulatory framework.
We recommend that all organisations involved in the design, manufacture, maintenance and operation of RPAS (“civil drones”) of any size remain in contact with their local authorities and keep up to date with EASA rulemaking developments in this rapidly advancing sector of aviation safety.
06/03/2015 UK CAA revises rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) operations
The UK CAA has issued revised information relating to aspects of SUA operations in the UK in its Information Notice IN-2015/008.
SUA means any unmanned aircraft, other than a balloon or a kite, having a mass of not more than 20 kg without its fuel but including any articles or equipment installed in or attached to the aircraft at the commencement of its flight. Under certain circumstances, operators of SUA are required to obtain and fly in accordance with a Permission granted by the CAA. Examples of such operations include conducting aerial work, flying within congested areas or when flying close (within 50 m) to persons, vehicles or vessels that are not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft. The requirement is detailed in articles 166(5) and 167(1) of the Air Navigation Order 2009 (ANO 2009). Before granting such a Permission, the CAA needs to be presented with acceptable evidence of an applicant’s pilot competency.
The purpose of the Information Notice is threefold:
- To set out evidence/alternative qualifications (critical elements) that are acceptable for the grant of Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) Permission under Air Navigation Order (ANO) articles 166 and 167.
- To notify changes to the application and approval process for organisations seeking approval as a UK National Qualified Entity (NQE) for SUA. In essence, these changes will institute a dual-category system of approvals for UK NQEs based on the range of pilot competency assessment activity each individual NQE can undertake.
- To notify changes to the SUA Permission document related to granting permissions for a class of SUA rather than listing individual aircraft.
Given the maturity of this sector of aviation and the associated rulemaking activity, we appreciate that it is highly likely that many actual or would be operators will not be aware of our website or the publication itself. However, we do recommend that anyone involved in the manufacture, supply or operation of RPAS in the UK, and any National Qualified Entities review the latest changes and incorporate any changes to processes, procedures and operations, as applicable.
Furthermore, the guidance given by the UK CAA could be considered by other competent authorities within Europe and elsewhere as reflecting good practice within this sector of aviation.
21/11/2014 UK CAA issues further guidance on small unmanned aircraft operations within London and other towns and cities
In its Information Notice IN–2014/190, the UK CAA provides further guidance to operators of commercial and recreational Small Unmanned Aircraft (SUA) and Small Unmanned Surveillance Aircraft (SUSA) who wish to operate within congested areas in relation to towns and cities. The latest generation of commercially-available SUA have very advanced capabilities in relation to their size and cost; this has led to a surge in their utilisation for a wide range of cinematographic and survey tasks and an increasing demand for their employment in urban areas. Operations in urban areas require an additional understanding of the complexities of the environment and of the safety and operational limitations that are suitable for London and other towns and cities.
In addition to the general guidance on areas of operation in this Information Notice, additional specific airspace guidance for operators wishing to undertake aerial work and surveillance (filming and photographic) operations within London is given. Most of the principles and procedures described will also apply to other large towns and cities within the UK. London has been featured due to its combined characteristics of population density, commercial air traffic volumes, large blocks of controlled airspace down to the surface, two major airports, a low-level helicopter route system, a central licensed heliport and several specialised restricted areas.
Individuals and organisations operating or considering operating such aircraft in the UK should review the updated guidance given and in particular ensure they are familiar with and implement the requirements of the UK Air Navigation Order 2009 and the guidance published in "CAP 722 Unmanned Aircraft System Operations in UK Airspace – Guidance".
Regulators, operators, and other organisations in other states may also find the information useful in shaping their own standards for RPAS operations.
25/06/2014 UK CAA simplifies some Continuing Airworthiness organisation certificates
In its Information Notice IN-2014/106, the UK CAA explains that the Approval Certificates it issues to continuing airworthiness organisations describe both the privilege and the scope of an organisation’s approval. Over time the way that this information has been presented on the certificate has become varied, such that organisations can find themselves facing significant charges when amending their ‘Scope of Work’.
Following a review of the way that aircraft types have been listed on EASA approval certificates, the UK CAA has decided to consolidate individual aircraft types into generic groups for holders of A2, A3 and A4 ratings. The revised policy applies to non-complex aircraft, except multi-engine helicopters. The new groups are based on the ratings established by EASA for Part-66 aircraft maintenance licenses, and aircraft that fall into the A4 rating (which remain subject to National licensing requirements). These new group ratings will be applied to continuing airworthiness organisations as follows:
- Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisations (CAMO, Part-M Subpart G);
- Maintenance Organisations (MO, Part-M Subpart F); and
- Maintenance Organisations (MO, Part-145)
The UK CAA has started distributing replacement approval certificates to align the content with the changes set out in the Information Notice, and it is expected that all affected organisations will have received a replacement certificate by the end of July 2014.
It explains that where an approved organisation intends to add aircraft within an existing group rating, it will not be necessary to submit a variation application to the CAA. Changes to the ‘Scope of Work’ within an existing group may be accomplished by submitting an amendment to the organisation’s exposition. Where a new group rating or individual aircraft type rating is required, a variation application must be submitted to the CAA along with the fee prescribed in the current Scheme of Charges.
The change to introduce generic approval certificate content still requires approved organisations to fully specify their actual capability in the ‘Scope of Work’ section of the Exposition. This section of the Exposition should include full details of the individual aircraft types for which the organisation has the capability to support. To assist the CAA evaluating expositions for organisations holding group ratings, it recommends that the individual aircraft types are listed in the ‘Scope of Work’ section under the relevant group heading.
The UK CAA goes on to remind organisations that when adding a new type to an existing group, the organisation must ensure that they have the tooling, equipment, documentation and manuals, as well as the appropriately qualified and experienced staff, to support the additional type. For CAMOs, this includes appropriately authorised Airworthiness Review Staff, where applicable, and generic/baseline maintenance programmes for the additional types.
Furthermore it explains that an applicant for a new approval group rating must be able to demonstrate that they have the capability and means to manage/maintain at least two aircraft types within the applicable group to be eligible for a group rating. Individual ratings will remain available for organisations who do not meet the criteria to qualify for a group rating.
We recommend that affected organisations review the Information Notice in full and maintain contact with their Surveyor during this administrative change, that should reduce the regulatory burden in the future.