EU Drone License

Do I need a flight license to fly a drone in Europe? From December 2020, Drone operators (remote pilots) flying drones that weigh more than 250 grams must complete a training. On completing the training they will get a European drone certificate. The authorised flight licenses are valid in all countries of the European Union.

EU Regulations 2019/947 and 2019/945 set the framework for the safe operation of drones in European skies (EU and EASA Member States). They adopt a risk-based approach, and as such, do not distinguish between leisure or commercial activities. They take into account the weight and specifications of the drone and the operation it is intended to undertake.

EU Regulation 2019/947, which will be fully applicable from December 30, 2020, caters for most types of operation and their levels of risk. It defines three categories of operations: the ‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified’ categories.

The ‘open’ category addresses operations in the lower risk bracket, where safety is ensured provided the drone operator complies with the relevant requirements for its intended operation. This category is subdivided into three further subcategories called A1, A2 and A3. Operational risks in the ‘open’ category are considered low, and therefore no authorisation is required before starting a flight.

The ‘specific’ category covers riskier operations, where safety is ensured by the drone operator obtaining an operational authorisation from the national competent authority before starting the operation. To obtain the authorisation, the drone operator is required to conduct a safety risk assessment, which will determine the requirements necessary for safe operation of the drone(s).

In the ‘certified’ category, the safety risk is so high that certification of the drone operator and the aircraft is required to ensure safety, as well as the licensing of the remote pilot(s).

The management of traffic for drones will be ensured through the U-space.
U-space is another arm of the drones’ regulatory framework. It creates and harmonises the necessary conditions for manned and unmanned aircraft to operate safely in the U-space airspace, so as to prevent collisions between aircraft and to mitigate the air and ground risks. The U-space regulatory framework, supported by clear and simple rules, should permit safe aircraft operations in all areas and for all types of unmanned operations. This is the airspace architecture and services that will ensure the safe flight of drones once in flight. The U-Space regulatory framework is currently under discussion, with publication planned for 2021.

How to be compliant as of December 31, 2020
Once the regulation becomes applicable on December 31, 2020, your first step as drone operator/ remote pilot will be to register in the country in which you live, or have your main place of business. Please see the list of drone website references by country 'Drones - National Aviation Authorities' for more details.

Monitoring of drones in the sky. The regulation of drone licenses also comes with the monitoring of drones in the sky, this is no different to the monitoring of traffic via an ANPR system or monitoring of other transports. Digitpol has developed a custom Drone Monitoring System which is a mesh city-wide sensor network based detection platform that monitors drone activity by MAC address, the platform can be used to collect intelligence on rogue drones, evidence on historic flights and to log activity near protected zones. The cloud platform performs the analysis and sensors can be mounted anywhere, across cities, countries and in vehicles. This system is deployed in a testing phase in the Netherlands, to-date, dozens of rogue drones have been identified.

Digitpol's Drone Monitoring cloud connects by API to manufactures, authorities and response teams, when a rogue drone is detected, the right people are informed instantly.



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