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Regulation 2019/947 - rules and procedures for unmanned aircraft

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COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) 2019/947 of 24 May 2019 on the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft - text published in the Official Journal of the European Union

Subject Matter

This Regulation lays down detailed provisions for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems as well as for personnel, including remote pilots and organisations involved in those operations.

Summary

Three categories of UAS operations are defined:

  • "Open". These are not subject to any prior operational authorisation, nor to an operational declaration by the UAS operator before the operation takes place.
  • "Specific". These require an authorisation by the competent authority or a declaration by the UAS operator. Note: The latter option is not available at the time the Regulation is published and will apply after Appendix 1 to the Annex is updated.
  • "Certified". These require the certification of the UAS pursuant to Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and the certification of the operator and, where applicable, the licensing of the remote pilot.

The "open" category is further split into 5 classes (C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4) based on size, weight (including payload), speed and other requirements (e.g. lights, presence of geo-awareness system, contents of the User manual, etc.). The maximum take-off mass of this category is less than 25 kg (classes C3 and C4). Operations in the open category must meet the following requirements:

  • the remote pilot ensures that the unmanned aircraft is kept at a safe distance from people and that it is not flown over assemblies of people.
  • the remote pilot keeps the unmanned aircraft in VLOS (visual line of sight) at all times except when flying in follow-me mode or when using an unmanned aircraft observer.
  • during flight, the unmanned aircraft is maintained within 120 metres from the closest point of the surface of the earth, except when overflying an obstacle.
  • during flight, the unmanned aircraft does not carry dangerous goods and does not drop any material.

UAS operations in the "open" category are divided into three sub-categories (A1, A2 and A3) based on the conditions to be complied with, e.g.

  • restrictions on overflying of uninvolved persons and maintaining safe distances (e.g. from people, residential, commercial, indurstrial and recreational areas, etc.).
  • requirements to be fulfilled by the remote pilot (e.g. to be familiar with the user manual, to have completed appropriate theoretical and practical training, etc.).
  • requirements to the aircraft (e.g. A1 must be C0 or C1 class, A2 must be C2 class and A3 must be C2, C3 or C4 class).

UAS operations in the "open" category must comply with the operational limitations set out in Part A of the Annex to this Regulation.

If the requirements for the "open" category cannot be met, the UAS operator must obtain an operational authorisation to operate in the "specific" category from the competent authority in the Member State where it is registered. When applying for this, the operator must perform a risk assessment and if the competent authority considers that the operational risks are adequately mitigated it will issue an operational authorisation which may apply to a single operation or to a number of operations. An operational authorisation or a declaration shall not be required for:

  • UAS operators holding an LUC (light UAS operator certificate) with appropriate privileges.
  • operations conducted in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations that have received a specific authorisation.

UAS operations in the "specific" category must comply with the operational limitations set out in their authorisation, or in a standard scenario defined in Appendix 1 to the Annex (unless the UAS operator holds an LUC with appropriate privileges).

UAS operations in the ‘specific’ category are also subject to the applicable operational requirements in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 923/2012.

Operations are classified in the "certified" category if both the following requirements are met:

  • the UAS meets any of the following conditions:
    • has a characteristic dimension of 3 m or more, and is designed to be operated over assemblies of people;
    • is designed for transporting people;
    • is designed for the purpose of transporting dangerous goods and requiring a high level of robustness to mitigate the risks for third parties in case of accident.
  • the operation is conducted in any of the following conditions:
    • over assemblies of people;
    • involves the transport of people;
    • involves the carriage of dangerous goods, that may result in high risk for third parties in case of accident.

In addition, UAS operations are classified in the "certified" category where the competent authority, based on the risk assessment, considers that the risk of the operation cannot be adequately mitigated without the certification of the UAS and of the UAS operator and, where applicable, without licensing remote pilot.

UAS operations in the "certified" category are subject to the applicable operational requirements in Regulations 923/2012, 965/2012 and 1332/2011.

The Regulation also contains:

  • Rules and procedures for the competency of remote pilots, including minimum age requirements.
  • Rules for conducting an operational risk assessment.
  • Provisions for cross-border operations or operations outside the state of registration.
  • Procedures for registration of UAS operators and certified UAS.
  • Provisions for perational conditions for UAS geographical zones.
  • Provisions for UAS operations in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations.
  • Procedures for the designation of the competent authority and its tasks.
  • Procedures for collecting safety information.
  • Special provisions, e.g. for UAS that do not comply with Regulation 2019/945, UAS that have been certified in accordance with national law, etc.

The Regulation contains an Annex that further clarifies UAS operations in the "open" and "specific" categories and contains three parts:

  • Part A, containing provisions for UAS operations in the "open" category. Specific provisions for operations in subcategories A1, A2 and A3 are provided as well as general provisions for the responsibility of the UAS operator and the remote pilot, including duration and validity of competency and certificates.
  • Part B, containing provisions for UAS operations in the "specific" category, e.g. application for and issuing of an operational authorisation, responsibilities of the UAS operator and remote pilot, etc.
  • Part C, containing requirements for light UAS operator certificate (LUC).

Amendment

The first amendment to this Regulation was made by Regulation 2020/639. The most common changes are summarized as follows:

  • Added 11 new definitions
  • Added a provision for cross-border operations for LUC certificate holders as well as an applicability date of that provision (02.12.2021). Until that date Member States may accept declarations made by UAS operators based on national standard scenarios. Such declarations shall cease to be valid from 02.12.2023.
  • In order to improve the conspicuity of UAS flown at night and make it easily distinguishable from a manned aircraft, a green flashing light should be activated on the UAS. This requirement is applicable from 01.07.2022
  • The responsibilities of the UAS operator in the "specific" category with respect to record keeping are desrcribed in more detail. These include records for personnel, their qualification and the UAS operations performed, including unusual technical or operational occurrences.
  • Added 2 standard scenarios for UAS operations in the "specific" category (Appendix 1 to the Annex):
    • STS-01 – VLOS (visual line of sight) over a controlled ground area in a populated environment
    • STS-02 – BVLOS (beyond VLOS) with Airspace Observers over a controlled ground area in a sparsely populated environment

Details about the scenarios may be found in Regulation 2020/639 and the consolidated version of this Regulation.

The second amendment to this Regulation was made by Regulation 2020/746. Recognizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry as a whole and on the emerging UAS field in particular, the following dates are postponed by six months:

  • Some UAS types are allowed to continue to be operated if they have been placed on the market before 01.07.2022 (now 01.01.2023).
  • Deadlines for adaptation of authorisations, declarations and certificates.
  • The transitional period for UAS in the "open" category which do not comply with the requirements of Regulation 2019/945 is extended from 2 years to 30 months.
  • The applicability of Regulation 2019/947 is postponed to 31.12.2020.
  • The deadlines for making information on UAS geographical zones publicly available (and in a common unique digital format) is extended to 01.01.2022.

A consolidated version of this Regulation is available here.

Entry into Force

The Regulation entered into force in July 2019 and is applicable from 01 July 2020 (this was postponed to 31.12.2020, see section above).

Regulation 2019/947 - rules and procedures for unmanned aircraft (OJ, 11.06.2019)

Further Reading

European Commission

EUROCONTROL