New regulations from the EU came into effect on the 1st January and the UK has effectively rubber stamped this law, which means drone operators will need to register their drones, plus their own details & qualifications. They will also have to comply with local regulators, so in theory that means the UK can fine tune these rules in the future. Here’s the word from the EU;
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).
Interestingly the new rules also demand a list of drone pilots, which hints that in future this licence – and all the testing and regulation that goes with it – will end up costing time and money. That will inevitably restrict the number of legal drone pilots over time, pricing out the amateur photographers, Instagrammers and low budget estate agents.
“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,” says the EU press statement.
Training is required and proof of training too, as the EU explains;
Your second step is to ensure that you, as drone operator or remote pilot are aware of the rules and risk connected with the operation. The drone operator is the person who is registered and is responsible for the operation. The remote pilot is the person that actually controls the drone. A drone operator may also be a remote pilot or he/she may employ one or more remote pilots. The remote pilot must have the appropriate training for the operation to be conducted. Please see the FAQ for details.
For insurers this simplifies things a great deal, as it places many enthusiast owned, small drones outside the law and are therefore uninsurable. More importantly the technology already exists to take control of rogue drones and land them safely and this should become a default setting for Commercial insurers, offering cover to airports, public infrastructure, prisons, or major sporting events, festivals and so on. Creating a whitelist of drones, and pilots, should soon be a routine part of the underwriting/quote process.