European drone regulation: professional views

European drone regulations released a few months ago reflect a risk-based approach: a group of experts from Commercial UAV News met last week to discuss how these regulations will affect the drone industry.

European drone regulation – expert perspectives from across the pond

By: Dawn MK Zoldi, guest author

On Thursday April 1, 2021, Commercial UAV (CUAV) News hosted a webinar on “How will European drone regulation affect UTM, U-Space and Enterprise fleet management?” included: Eszter Kovacs (CEO Manageld & DroneTalks), Christian Sch Liefer-Heingartner (General Secretary EUROCAE, leader in standards development), Mariya Tarabanovska (Co-Founder Flight Crowd) and Stewart Marsh (Head of Aerospace, Cambridge) consultants) Guided by Danielle Gagne from CUAV, the group provided an informative and diverse assessment of drone regulations in Europe.

Drone regulation and underground space

In case you haven’t seen what’s happening across the pond, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the equivalent of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was busy. Approximately 4 days after the FAA published expanded copies of the Rules for Remote Identification (RID) and Personnel Operations, EASA adopted uniform drone regulations for the European Union (EU), Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and the United States, effective December 31 Kingdom published, 2020. These regulations codify a risk-based approach to the operation of recreational and commercial drones into three categories:

  • Open – flights with the least risk; No pre-authorization is required for three sub-categories (A1 – A3)
  • Specific – high risk operations; requires an operating license and pre-flight safety risk assessment
  • Certified – highest risk; requires certification of drone operators and aircraft as well as licensing of remote pilots (RP)

The regulation requires the drone operator / owner to register with the National Aviation Authority (NAA) of the EU country of residence, unless the drone weighs less than 250 g and is either a toy or has no camera or other sensor that can collect personal data. In addition, drones with certificates of airworthiness must be registered when performing certain or certified operations. The regulation also requires RP training for these higher risk operations, insurance, and an appropriate NAA permit to fly for the geographic zone in question. All of this applies in addition to the CE marking requirements (“Conformité Européenne”) for small drones up to 25 kg (a number between 0 and 4 that indicates the class of the drone as C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4) and a RID requirement (see Regulation (EU) 2019/947; see also previous DroneLife report on the Swiss implementation of RID).

In January 2021, EASA updated the regulation with clarifications on operations on persons in the specific category to ensure interoperability for national registrations and to introduce a new pre-defined risk assessment. EASA has summarized all of these requirements in a practical one-stop-shop publication.

U-Space is essentially the unmanned traffic management system (UTM) that fits into the EU regulatory system. EASA’s Opinion 1/2020 published in March 2020 established a high-level risk and performance-based legal framework for UTM. Similar to the FAA announcement on the creation of public rules for RID, which contained a network-centric solution and a concept for unmanned aircraft service providers (USS), the U-Space Ordinance prescribes U-Space service providers from third parties. These offer four things: permits to fly for controlled and uncontrolled airspace; Geographic awareness information about geographic zones of the UAS; Network identification for tracking drones via network and radio that are transmitted to other providers and operators (in addition to RID); and traffic information. Under the regulation, optional U-Space services could include: tracking services through real-time and historical UAS telemetry data; Weather information and conformity monitoring for adherence to or deviations from the flight path as well as corresponding warning messages. U-Space will come into effect in 2023. The 5 biggest pieces of information about U-Space can be found in this DroneTalks webinar.

Standards Compliment Regulations

Christian Sch Liefer-Heingartner from EUROCAE focused on the fact that his organization is creating standards in parallel with EASA regulations and that the move to performance-based, risk-based regulations enables additional innovation and flexibility. However, this flexibility leads to an additional demand for uniform standards to support the legal framework. EUROCAE, a membership-based non-profit organization and the European leader in developing globally recognized industry standards for aviation, continues to contribute to this standard development process. EUROCAE works in parallel, and sometimes in front of regulators, to develop acceptable compliance tools (MOCs) to enable drones to operate. EUROCAE’s European Coordination Group on Unmanned System Standards has established three key standards that are critical to the implementation of UTM and U-Space services: EUROCAE Document (ED) 269, Minimum Operational Performance Standard for UAS Geo-Fencing ; ED 270, Minimum Operating Performance Specification for UAS Geo-Caging and ED 282, Minimum Operating Performance Standard for UAS E-Identification.

Per Sch Liefer-Heingartner: “If you adhere to this standard, you know that the certification body will issue you an operating certificate.” Against this background, he described the current status as the “industrialization phase” of the process in which the industry is now developing, producing and producing its products can certify.

Technology activates UTM

Stewart Marsh believed that innovation had to play a role in the implementation of UTM because “it’s all about risk reduction”. His company supported three major technological factors: sensors, communication and navigation. On the sensor side, Detect and Avoid (DAA) can help reduce the risk of advanced surgeries, e.g. B. out of the line of sight to decrease. The challenge is to avoid low weight, low power (SWaP) performance degradation. Marsh discussed how his group has borrowed ideas and technologies from other industries such as the autonomous automotive sector to enable a low-cost / high-performance DAA by using low-cost cameras, cheap optics with LiDAR, and other sensors that they use artificial intelligence (AI) combine. For communications, Cambridge Consultants has increased the availability, integrity and security of communications through the use of full spectrum solutions, including satellite communications, advanced 4G networks and 5G solutions. For a reliable location required for navigation, they combined AI with GPS, as well as cellular and WiFi networks as GPS backups. For Marsh, technology is key to regulation, and it needs to precede and inform them.

Community acceptance can drive or hinder the industry

According to Mariya Tarabanovska, co-founder of Flight Crowd, regulations will continue to evolve, but in the end the public will base their opinion on what they see or, perhaps more importantly, what they don’t see. Often regulations and standards are not transparent to the public (author’s note – EUROCAE standards are only available free of charge to its members) and they do not know them. While regulations can enable operations, public pressure can stop them. For example, drone noise can create public resistance and block progress. According to Tarabanovska, responsible policies and actions must include concern for the environment, focus on how drone technology can benefit society as a whole, and involve public voices. She recommended that the public, not just industry, be invited to political rounds.

Eszter Kovacs, CEO of Manageld & DroneTalks, fully agreed. She mentioned the disconnection between industry and public perception regarding the social acceptance of drones. When they ask the industry how the public perceives drones, they believe the public has a positive opinion. They point out newer COVID-19 uses like drug delivery that add to positive perception. However, when she speaks to members of the public, they want to know why a drone is flying near them. This gap needs to be closed.

Regulations and standards require implementation

Kovacs also highlighted the implementation gap. She praised the fact that the U-Space regulation has been published and companies are now ready to move forward. The startups she advises, heavily reliant on investment, pressure to deliver solutions and generate revenue, want the government to take the next steps and approve more advanced projects, opening up airspace capabilities rather than keeping them in a proverbial airbox. according to Kovacs. Regulation is not enough without implementation

One world, the same problem

The regulations are evolving. Still, Europe seems to face the same challenges as the US when it comes to fully integrating drones into complex airspace: technology, implementation and public acceptance. We’re all in the same boat. If we learn from each other, work towards viable solutions and offer wider education, the drone industry will really skyrocket!

Dawn MK Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, retired) is a licensed attorney with 28 years of active military and federal service in the Air Force Department. She is an internationally recognized expert on the law and politics of unmanned aircraft systems, columnist for Law-Tech Connect ™ for Inside Unmanned Systems magazine, recipient of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019 and CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC. You can find more information on their website at: https://www.p3techconsulting.com.

Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing in the drone industry, email Miriam.

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