Share | 10/12/2022
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On 1 January 2021, the European Commission harmonized civil drone regulations across the following countries: European Union’s 27-Member States + Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland (process ongoing), and United Kingdom (partially).
The regulations require all operators of drones above 250 g to register with their country’s National Aviation Authority (NAA). This can be where the operator lives or at their principal place of business. This registration is valid for the period defined by the NAA.
Once registered, the operator receives a registration number that must be displayed on all its drones and uploaded onto the remote identification system. This number is recognized in all European Union member states.
In this blog post, you’ll find detailed information on current European drone regulations.
The European regulatory framework (2019/945 and 2019/947) takes an operation risk-based approach, which considers the drone’s weight, technical and safety specifications and the type of operation being conducted.
There are three categories of drone operations in the EU regulations:
Open Category (including transitional Limited Open Category)
The Open Category for low-risk operations is composed of:
Both are for UAS under 25 kg and have the following operational limitations: max. flight altitude 120 m AGL and visual line of sight (VLOS) flights.
Operations in the Open Category do not require authorization from a National Aviation Authority (NAA) because they are considered low risk.
To give drone manufacturers time to certify their drones for the Open Category, a Limited Open Category transition period is in effect until December 2023.
This Limited Open Category is composed of three subcategories based on the drone’s maximum take-off weight including payload (MTOW):
A1 subcategory – For drones below 500 g MTOW
A2 subcategory – For drones below 2 kg MTOW – eBee X series
A3 subcategory – Drones between 2 kg and 25 kg MTOW – WingtraOne GEN II VTOL, Quantum Trinity F90+ eVTOL and DJI Matrice 300 RTK
The drone entries this category once assessed by a Notified Body and granted with one of the class identifications C0, C1, C2, C3, C4. The higher the class number, the greater the operational limitations. The drone manufacturer is responsible for certifying the drones.
The Open Category is subdivided into:
COMPARISON: C2-A2 vs C3-A3
The most common class identifications for professional drones are C2 and C3, operating in Open Category A2 and A3.
C2 class drone flying in subcategory A2 – e.g. eBee X series
C3 class drone flying in subcategory A3 – e.g. WingtraOne GEN II VTOL, Quantum Trinity F90+ eVTOL and DJI Matrice 300 RTK
Only units sold after January 1, 2024, within the European Union require the C label. Drones already on the market before this date can still be operated, albeit with some limitations.
All eBee X, eBee Ag, and eBee Geo drones shipped within Europe by AgEagle since September 2022 include the C2 label to operate in the Open Category, within the A2 subcategory.
For eBee units already on the market before January 1, 2024 (without the C marking), they can still be operated within the A3 subcategory.
We offer customers a special opportunity to upgrade their existing non-C2 eBee drones to C2 and C6 eBee X drones by January 2024, when the Limited Open Category ends. This upgrade will enhance their operations and eliminate limitations associated with the A3 subcategory. Contact us for more information.
Operational advantages of C2 drones:
If your business operations require flying BVLOS, OOP, or near residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational areas – not accessible to heavy VTOLs and quadcopters – you can now benefit from the regulatory advantages of C2 lightweight drones by upgrading to an eBee fixed-wing UAS.
This category applies to drone operations which pose a level of risk not covered under the Open Category, such as extended visual line of sight operations (EVLOS), beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), operations over people (OOP), or package delivery.
One of four procedures should be followed to operate in this category, for all of which the drone operator is required to obtain a National Aviation Authority (NAA) authorization:
Specific Operation Risk Assessment (SORA): The suggested method for eBee users, as they benefit from a simplified process thanks to eBee X series drones M2 Ground Risk Class (GCR) mitigation. Drone operators are required to perform a risk appraisal using the Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) methodology. This 10-step process defines the risk of the mission, that will be assessed by the NAA. For more info on SORA, read here.
The eBee X series drones are the industry’s first UAVs to receive a Design Verification Report from EASA on the M2 Ground Risk Class (GRC) mitigation, a step in the SORA process to obtain BVLOS and OOP approval.
As a result, eBee X operators benefit from a simplified SORA authorization process by having a lower ground risk score without needing additional verification from EASA.
Predefined Risk Assessment (PDRA): This is an assessment to conduct basic advanced operations (such as EVLOS at 120 m / 150 m) in Europe, with a scenario already covered by one of the EASA published PDRAs. Because the risk of the operation is lower, instead of conducting a full risk assessment, the operator will have to provide some documentation to support the application for NAA authorization.
Standard Scenario (STS): Upcoming January 2024. Analogous to the PDRA, but the drone must have a class marking (C5 or C6). The mission is conducted under a predefined operation published by the EASA. The operator must submit an operation declaration to the NAA where he/she is registered and await confirmation.
The eBee X Series drones – eBee X, eBee TAC Public Safety, eBee Geo and eBee Ag – achieved the C6 class identification label for BVLOS operations within the Standard Scenario STS-02 in October 2023.
The eBee X Series certification allows operators of C6 eBees to conduct BVLOS operations (up to 1 km distance, or 2 km with airspace observers) over a controlled ground area in a sparsely populated environment (STS-02).
Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC): Rare certificate to which only organizations can apply after filling the requirements. It’s mainly for repetitive missions with the same operational characteristics. Organizations with a LUC certificate can self-assess the operation’s risk and self-authorize it under their responsibility.
Operations that fall under the Certified Category are those that are believed to pose the highest risk because they would likely involve the transportation of people or dangerous goods, envisioned for air taxis or cargo drones.
Purchasing a drone that matches your operational needs and with EU drone regulation compliance in mind can simplify your operation processes. We strongly recommend that you check:
For more information about the EU or other drone regulations, contact us directly at email@example.com
eBees are currently the only drones in the market with both C6 and C2 markings, offering significant operational advantages to customers.
AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc provides this information for informational purposes only. The texts, graphics, images, and references don’t constitute legal advice. While we try to keep the information timely and accurate, we make no guarantees. AgEagle Aerial Systems Inc. is not liable for the actions taken based on this document’s information.
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