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EU Announces New Drone Rules, Aims to Build Common European Drone Market

BY Zacc Dukowitz
20 June 2019

Flying a drone in the European Union is shaping up to be a lot more simple.

The EU recently published new drone regulations, which cover both recreational and commercial drone operations. Once in effect, these rules will be adopted by all members of the EU, overriding the individual drone laws in each country.

A drone shot taken in France, an EU member

The new rules were drafted by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and will go into effect in just over a year, in July of 2020, giving member countries and operators time to prepare for the adoption.

Common rules will help foster investment, innovation, and growth in this promising sector.

– Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the EASA

So if you’re a commercial drone pilot who travels frequently between EU countries for your work, or just a hobbyist looking to get some great shots while on a Euro tour, this is good news, since now you’ll only need to be aware of one set of rules for your travels instead of having to do exhaustive drone law research country by country (assuming you’re sticking to countries in the EU, of course).

Want to take a look at the new rules? Here are the original documents that contain them:

About the EU’s New Drone Rules

When the EU adopts these new drone rules in 2020, they will be the first region in the world to have a comprehensive set of regulations for all drone pilots.

The rules will help to protect the safety and the privacy of EU citizens while enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the European Union.

– The EASA

Here are a few highlights from the new EU drone laws.

Registration Requirements

Under the EU’s new drone laws, drone pilots will have to register themselves either in their EU country of residence or in the EU country where they primarily fly. Operators will be issued a unique ID, which they’ll be required to display on their drone(s).

As part of the registration process, pilots may be required to demonstrate proof of insurance, in addition to sharing other common identifying information, such as name, address, and birth date.

In addition to the requirement for registering the drone pilot, drones that weigh over .55 pounds (250 grams)—so basically almost all drones—will have to be individually registered.

Three Categories of Drone Operations

The new rules establish three risk-based categories for drone operations:

  • Open—Covers drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) used in the following manner: no flights over people; VLOS flying only; generally flown in low-risk situations.
  • Specific—Covers drones/types of drone operations that don’t meet ‘open’ requirements. This category will require specific authorization.
  • Certified—Covers the highest risk category, and applies to risky and complicated drone operations, such as drone delivery, flying over people, and BVLOS. This category will also require specific authorization.

To learn more about the EU’s new drone rules and the timeline for rolling them out, check out this page on the EASA’s website.

A drone shot taken in Bulgaria, an EU member

What’s Next?

Now that these new drone rules have been created, the EASA says that the next step is to “develop a common European market for drones.”

These efforts will be launched at the EASA’s annual High Level Conference on Drones, which has the title for this year of “Scaling Drone Operations.”

The conference will take place from December 5—6 in Amsterdam, during Amsterdam Drone Week.

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