Nowadays, drones have invaded our skies and public areas: they can be used for a wide range of activities, such as filming events, shooting impressive videos or pictures from the sky, or just for the fun of flying, as they can be bought ready-made and are relatively easy to fly.
In order to respond to this rapid development and the associated potential threats to public safety and security, the European Legislator has asked the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to develop a new regulatory framework to address Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), comprising the various types of air drones as well as their control infrastructure.
The EASA published draft rules in February 2018 that will be officially published later this year. In parallel, following the adoption of its new “Basic Regulation” by the European Council and Parliament, EASA’s mandate has been extended to the regulation of unmanned aircraft and cybersecurity.
In order to address the gradual risk proportionally, EASA has established three Categories of drones, based on their Maximum Take-Off Mass (MTOM) and the way they shall be operated:
- Low Risk=”Open” Category for small drones (<25kg) operated within Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) below 120 meters of altitude and away from the public;
- Medium Risk=”Specific” for drones (>25 kg) operated at Very Low Level, Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) and/or above groups of people;
- High Risk=”Certified” drones derived from aircraft, operated in the controlled airspace and which will have to be logically certified by EASA like all other aircraft developed in the EU.
The proposed EASA Regulation on drones is two-fold:
- A Commission Regulation on rules for the operations of UAS
- A Commission Delegated Regulation defining technical requirements for UAS authorised to operate in the "Open" category (harmonisation legislation)
Drones flying in the “Open” category will not require a prior authorisation by the competent authority, nor a declaration by the operator, before the operation takes place. Safety is ensured through a combination of operational limitations, technical requirements for the machine and the competency of the remote pilot. Examples of operations that fall into this category are filming and taking photographs, infrastructure inspections, and leisure activities in which the remote pilot keeps the unmanned aircraft in sight at all times.
Design requirements for small drones (up to 25kg) will be implemented by using the CE marking for products brought to the market in Europe. The operator will find in each drone package a consumer information with the “do’s and don’ts” on how to fly a drone without endangering other people.
Therefore, for this smaller “Open” category drones, the European Commission has asked European Standards Organisations (ESOs) to develop Harmonised Standards, addressing the 5 classes of consumer drones from C0 to C4, proportionally to the risk.
To respond to the request from the European Commission, CEN and CENELEC have established a Drones Standardisation Request Ad-Hoc Group (SRAHG).
The Drone-SRAHG gathers CEN-CENELEC Members, Experts from ASD-STAN (the AeroSpace and Defence-STANdardization organisation), BNAE (the French Aerospace Standardization Organization) and the Professional Federation of Civil Drones, as well as stakeholders from the drones and toy industry and potential users like agricultural companies. Consumers associations such as the European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardisation (ANEC) are also represented in the SRAHG.
The purpose of a SRAHG is normally to study a Standardisation Request, not yet available in this case. However, due to the importance and complexity of the Drone project, the European Commission was eager to start the coordination with the ESOs as soon as possible.
The activities are threefold:
- establish a list of clarification questions on the Unmanned Aircraft Systems draft rules (as prepared by EASA) and engage in discussions with EASA;
- based on those rules, define the elements needed to be covered in future standards (programming);
- prioritize and initiate the work in a timely manner and coordinate with external stakeholders, such as ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and EUROCAE (European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment).
ASD-STAN, CEN’s Associated Body, has initiated a work item on this subject, ASD-STAN committee Domain 5 "General".
For more information, please contact Thierry Legrand