What the new Legislation says about drones certification

The new Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, together with the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, replaces the national standards of member countries for UAS activities (Unmanned Aircraft System) by defining for the first time the requirements for CE marking of drones. In collaboration with Ileron – an organization specialized in topographic measurement with remotely piloted aircraft -, we will make the point of what types of drones are involved in the new EU standard.

The UAS, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems, are aircrafts piloted by remote control. We are talking about drones that are used for example in agriculture, aerial shots and topographic measurements both for professional and non-professional purposes. The new Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 for the European Community replaces the specifications dictated by the Civil Aviation Agencies of member countries by defining the requirements to CE mark the drones.

The Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 develops into two different regulations:

  • Regulation (EU) 2019/945 which establishes the requirements for compliance during the design and manufacturing phases, in force since 1st July 2019.
  • Regulation 2019/947 which establishes provisions for the operating drones, in force since 1st July 2019 and whose application begins 1st July 2020.

The categorization of drones is now based on the new  UE 2019/947  Execution Regulation based on their operativity,  surpassing the subdivision of ENAC that was rather based on the distinction between recreational activities and professional operations. The new legislation does not refer to toy drones, but rather includes UAS operations carried out in the context of clubs and associations for aircraft modeling.

The EU legislation UE 2019/947 highlights three categories of drones:

  1. Open, which are aircraft whose operation is at low risk, but for which CE mark is now mandatory, as defined by the EU Regulation 2019/945. As we will discuss in the next paragraph, the Open category includes 3 sub-categories (A1, A2 and A3), divided into 5 classes of aircraft with different characteristics (C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4, plus self-built drones), where each class is subject to particular requirements.
  2. Specific, which are drones characterized by a medium risk that are subject to risk assessment. CE marking is not required for this category. Jarus (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems) is the technical committee responsible for defining the guidance material and the standard scenarios for the declarations of conformity that the operators will have to fulfill.
  3. Certified, which are the drones used in high-risk operations, such piloted military drones – naturally excluded from the CE marking process-, for which pilot certification and license is required.

 

Characteristics of drones belonging to Open Category subject to CE marking

The Regulation (EU) 2019/945 imposes CE marking and defines the compliance requirements for each Open sub-category and class. The new standard also imposes in some cases the intervention of a notified body. Class C0 and class C1 with a weight < 250 g – plus self-built drones without CE marking – fall into sub-category A1. Class C2 aircraft belongs to the sub-category A2 and classes C3 and C4 – plus self-built drones with weight < 25 kg and without CE marking – fall into sub-category A3.

The differentiation is based on weight (or – only for class C1 – on kinetic energy) and imposes certain limits related to the safety of people. Indeed, the new drone standard doesn’t allow flying over gatherings and crowds and establishes additional limits even when flying over not-involved people in the vicinity; for example for the subcategories A2 and A3 the overflight on crowdy areas is prohibited. No specific training is required for the use of drones with a weight up to 250 g, while the completion of a theoretical training to acquire the notions of flight rules and airspace is mandatory for pilots of higher-weight UAS (classes C1, C2, C3, C4 and for self-built drones with a weight up to 25 kg). All classes, except the C0 and self-built aircrafts with a weight <250 g, are expected to be equipped with a device able to send data regarding the identification and flight profile in real time.

The differences among the Open category are summarized in the table below:

 UAS Category UAS Class Weight/Joules Fly over people
Maximum height Training Realt-time data
CE Marking
Not-involved people Gathering
A1 Self-built < 250 g Yes No (security distance) < 50 m No No N/A
C0 Yes
C1  < 900 g o

< 80 J

< 120 m Yes Yes
A2 C2  < 4 kg No (security distance)
A3 C3 < 25 kg
C4
Self-built N/A

 

The Regulation (EU) 2019/945 imposes several manufacturing requirements for each class, including the characteristics of the materials, the equipment, the noise emitted and the characteristics of the system. In the next article we will examine the requirements for CE marking of Class C1, the most popular on the amateur and professional markets thanks to its compactness, flight performance and to the possibility of overflying not-involved people within urban areas.

 

Application and transition period of European standard on drones

The Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 on manufacturing requirements has been in force since 1st July 2019, while the Execution Regulation 2019/947 will be applied from 1st July 2020. Before that date, we will await for the revision of the ENAC Regulation which will define what transitional adjustments will have to be made before the complete application of the new European Legislation. In the meantime, drones can be used under the Open Category regime until 1st July 2022, which is the final deadline for the sale and operation of remotely piloted aircrafts that do not comply with the new standard for the European Community.

Are you a drone manufacturer? Contact us for more information on what obligations you must fulfill to obtain the CE marking!

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