The European Commission has produced new rules for the operation of drones in the EU, including those used by both professionals and hobbyists.
The new rules were supposed to have been implemented in July, but that was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. As it is, one section of the new rules has yet to be finalised.
The legislation splits drones into three types: open, specific and certified.
The ‘open’ category includes drones used by professionals and amateurs that present a low level of risk. Conditions for entry in this category include a weight maximum of 25kg, a flight that does not take place above a gathering of people, and a maximum flying height of 120m and within visible range.
The ‘specific’ category involves flights with a higher level of risk, out of visible range or above a gathering of people. Flights of this category require a permit from the directorate-general for aviation at the federal mobility ministry.
The rules applying to the ‘certified’ category have still to be worked out.
One rule that applies to all is the need for registration. Everyone who wants to fly a drone, whether professional or amateur, has to apply in advance for a permit from the DG Aviation, and must affix the registration number provided to the drone. That would allow the operator to be identified, for example in the cases of a lost drone or one involved in an accident.
The exceptions to the registration rule are few, an example being a drone for children with a limited altitude ceiling.
The rules also allow for local regulations limiting or even banning drone flights, for example over airfields and airports, prisons or protected nature areas. The local authorities can impose limits for reasons of privacy, safety or the protection of personal information.