New European Union UAV pilot regulations


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 Hi everybody, the European Union has introduced new regulations for flying drones within the EU. The most common category is the open category. These are non-professional drone flyers. Professionals are probably well aware of the change so I’m not going too far into the other categories. Amateurs outside the EU, and some within, wishing to fly within the EU may not be aware of the changes. The open category is subdivided by the weight and capability of the drone. Sub-category A1 is for small drones, less than 250 g and these are more the toy or indoor type. The legal flying limitation for A1 is a maximum height of 50 m and a maximum distance of 100 m from the pilot. The next sub-category is A2.  This is where most hobby pilots are likely to be. 250 g up to 4 kg drone weight. For example; my Mavic Pro is 800 g. You need to take, and pass,  an online knowledge test. When you are successful, you may pilot your drone in any EU country. Keep in mind that the UK is no longer a member of the EU so your test result has no value there. Useful to know if you live here or you plan a holiday in Europe after Covid. The only country with English as an official first language within the EU is Ireland. The ‘old’ regulations, like max height of 120 m, drone must be in sight, ‘no fly’ zones, not over urban areas, etc haven’t changed. Professional pilots, flying over towns, covering events, assisting emergency services, etc, are in sub-category A3. A3 covers drones over 4 kg and those are big boys toys, like professional pilots. There are extra regulations for A3. I’m not listing them here as it’s unlikely to apply to you. You can find them on the web. Pro pilots are in the next higher two categories, above the open category.

Post script: I’m taking the test in English, even though I have Dutch nationality. Dutch sites only steer you towards expensive online courses. After I’ve taken the test I plan to post test tips and advice on this forum.

Edited by Brian Jones
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Looking forward to your thoughts on the process.  Thinking about taking a small drone  (<250g but with camera) if we can visit Germany, Austria, and Hungary in December.  Curious how a US citizen can complete this process from outside the EU.

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I’m waiting for my application to join the Irish Aviation Authority membership to be processed. After registration I get more information about the knowledge test.

 I have looked up and read the entire European commission paper on unmanned aircraft. This is titled; the commission implementation regulations for the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft.  Probably the first thing to note is that the European commission calls unmanned aircraft “ unmanned aircraft systems“, abbreviated to UAS.  When Europeans refer to a UAS they are talking about a UAV.

Kaweeka, by definition your drone is sub-category A2 because of its camera.

In order to pilot your drone in Europe you need proof of passing three things; the knowledge test, the practical test and a theoretical knowledge exam.

The knowledge test is online.  This is a 40 multiple-choice question test on:

1. Air safety

2. Airspace restrictions 

3. Aviation requirements 

4. Human performance limitations 

5. Operational procedures 

6. UAS general knowledge 

7. Privacy and data protection 

8. Insurance 

9. Security 

The practical test is a self-test:

You have to sign a declaration of having completed practical training.

The theoretical knowledge examination has 30 multiple choice questions on three subjects:

1. Meteorology

2. UAS flight performance 

3. Technical and operational mitigations for ground risk

There is a difference when flying in the vicinity of uninvolved people, depending on your drone. If your drone has an active low speed mode function then you may fly within 5 m. If your drone has no sensors, then you have to keep a horizontal distance of 30 m. You also have to take weather conditions, segregation of the overflown area and the UAS performance into consideration.

You have to take weather conditions, segregation of the overflown area and the UAS performance into consideration.

 A new listing is keeping a horizontal distance of 150 m from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas. The problem here is that most places you want to fly and film are also recreational areas. 

There is one part of the paper which I thought was funny. There is a limitation on the collision impact your drone can have on people. The impact may not be more than 80 k-Jules.  I’m sure that that is going to be the first thing that goes through somebody’s thoughts when your drone bounces off their head! “Gosh, that felt like a little more than 80 k-Jules.” or words to that effect!

 

Edited by Brian Jones
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Hi Ron, there isn’t a single URL. Each EU country has its own in their native language. I can’t access the Dutch one direct. I have to register for a course. These courses cost around € 900, which more than I paid for my drone. That’s about $ 1,100. I’m still waiting on a response from the Irish site. I trust that is going to be in English because I don’t have Gaelic! When I get a URL from them I’ll post it here.

Brian.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi everyone, Its been a while. I have my official drone pilot license. The delay was verification of my EU residency. I applied to Ireland and I live in The Netherlands. Application are expected from the country in which you are normally resident. There was a video to watch. The animated video has all the rules and regulations. You are required to watch the entire video before you get access to the exam. The 40 question exam is a 4 x multiple choice answer paper. There are sections as Chase shows in his link. When you get a question wrong in a section the programme automatically sends you to that question to try another answer. There seems to be no limit on the number of attempts. I had to deliberately give a wrong answer to discover that. To the question of 120m height limit; I selected the silly answer, 'Because birds only attack drones that fly over 120m high.' which may be true, however it was not the answer they were looking for. :-) 

After completing the exam you have to register. Part of the registration is proof of drone insurance. That's not mentioned in the EU Regulation documents. Once you register you get your License. You then have to register as an Operator. Your Operators number has to be fixed to your drone(s). I think that is so that when you bounce off someone's head, they can note the Operator number.

 

Fly safe!

Brian

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A multiple choice exam that apparently you can't fail.  So what is the point of the exam?  Just to make sure you watched a video?

What is the point of requiring insurance when the operator can just cancel the insurance after they receive their certificate?  I'm not suggesting that people do that, just that having to show proof of insurance is kind of pointless.

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It's kind of like Auto insurance here in Washington.  Auto insurance is required by law.  But no one checks unless there is an injury accident.  Otherwise, there is really no ramification to not having any other than if you are a legit person, you have financial risk if involved in an accident.  If you're a flake, you just disappear.  Much cheaper.  I once got side-swiped by a kid traveling too fast around a corner.  He had no insurance.  Again, it is required by law.  He was not even cited for the poor driving or no insurance.  It makes you feel a little foolish when you purchase it yourself.

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In principle I agree with Chuck and Dave. It would seem easy to take out cover, send in the policy number and then cancel the insurance. Big difference is that over here most official databases are linked. I upgraded my insurance from recreational to commercial. I got notice from the Civil Aviation Authority that they accepted the change, and I didn't tell them. Another example is that the Police within the EU know immediately when they run your vehicle license plate whether or not you have a road safety certificate and whether or not you have insurance.

This probably will not apply to the UK. They left the EU and the data exchange agreements have stopped. Also the registration requirements don't apply in the UK because they are only for the EU.

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@Brian Jones congratulations on getting your license.  It’s one of those accomplishments that just feels great. 

Too often I forget it’s a big world out there and only look at issues from the perspective of the US. As I’ve aged I care less about things beyond my control and focus more on the things in my immediate surroundings. 

Going back through this thread I realized you’ve provided some great advise that certainly helps those in the EU. 

Good luck with your commercial endeavors and keep us informed with what your doing. 

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