The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published a proposal to regulate the operation of small drones in Europe.

The proposal offers a framework to safely operate drones while allowing this industry to remain agile, to innovate and continue to grow. The risk posed to people on the ground and to other aircraft as well as privacy, security and data protection issues created by such drones are also taken into account.

The proposed regulation defines the technical and operational requirements for the drones. Technical requirements refer, for example, to the remote identification of drones.  Operational requirements refer to, among other things, geofencing, a system that ensures drones do not enter a prohibited zone. The proposal also addresses the pilots’ qualifications. Furthermore, under the proposed rules, drone operators will have to register themselves, except when they operate drones lighter than 250g.

“Breaking new grounds”

EASA says its proposal is “breaking new grounds” by combining product legislation and aviation legislation – design requirements for small drones will be implemented using the well-known CE product legislation marking.

The standard CE marking will be accompanied by the identification of the class of the drone (from C0 to C4) and by a ‘dos and don’ts’ leaflet that will be found in all drone boxes. Based on the drone class, an operator will know in which area they can operate and what competence is required.

A statement from EAS says: “The proposal allows a high degree of flexibility for EASA Member States; they will be able to define zones in their territory where either drones operations are prohibited or restricted (for example to protect sensitive areas), or where certain requirements are alleviated.”

It adds: “For operations that pose higher risks, an operational risk assessment will define the requirements that the operator needs to comply before flying the drone. The proposal also provides special alleviations for people flying model aircraft – which are also drones – to recognise the good safety records in aero modelling.”

Interested parties are invited to comment on the proposal from May 12 until August 12, 2017.