On January 1, 2021, the European Union standardized drone regulations across the continent. The new replaced each EU state’s existing laws and apply to all drone operators. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has passed a new set of drone regulations that centralize and blanket the entire European Union under one set of rules that includes Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and the United Kingdom.
At this point, a two-year “Limited Open Category” transition period goes into effect, giving all parties time to adhere to the new rules and regulations. Drone regulations differ from country to country. What is permissible in one may not be permissible in another.
For example, while drone operators in Philippines must get their RPA License if the weight of their drone is 7kg above, the same rule may not apply in other country like Japan, US, & China.
This difference causes confusions in the EU. But by standardizing the rules, the EU hopes to make drone operations safer and easier for everyone.
As you probably know, now, there are different regulations in each European country, for example, in one country you will be limited to fly at 150 meters altitude and in another, you will be limited to fly at 120 meters. To change that, the European commission has published new regulations in 2019 and these regulations are now split in three categories: The Open Category for low risk operations like flights not over people and VLOS (Visual Line Of Sight), The Specific Category where you can fly, for example, BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) or flights over people, and the last one is the Certified Category, this category is for high risk operations like transporting people. This new regulation is coming into force on the 1st of January 2021, at the same time, we will enter a two years transition period with the Limited Open Category.
What are the differences between Open Category and Limited Open Category?
Open Category – There will be technical requirements. Drones will need a CE marking, which is the process for products sold in Europe to ensure they meet safety standards. For the CE marking, the drone will have some technical requirements like the remote ID or Geo-awareness.
Limited Open Category – There will be no technical requirements but just operational requirements. You will be able to fly drones that are under 2 kilos at 50 meters above people. But if you’re using drones above 2 kilos, it needs to maintain a 150 meters distance from recreational areas, commercial, industrial and residential
So, if you’re considering purchasing your first drone, we strongly recommend that you check whether that drone’s operational capability will be impacted by the new EU rules and regulations.