27 August 2019
This is the third article in our five part series covering UK and EU drone regulation. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Whilst the UK has upgraded its drone laws, the EU has been at work too. On 1 March 2019, the EU published Regulation 2019/945 on the requirements for the design, manufacture and distribution of drones.
On 24 May 2019, it published Regulation 2019/947 on the rules for operating drones, which will generally apply from 1 July 2020. This states that drone operations should be as safe as those in manned aviation. The Regulations will create a level playing field across the EU for drone manufacturers and operators.
Drones may not be made available on the EU market unless they satisfy numerous manufacturing conditions and do not endanger the health or safety of persons, animals or property. The EU Regulations place drones into three main risk categories:
As mentioned in Part 2, under UK law, drone operators must be at least 18 years old, but there is no minimum age for pilots.
Under EU law, the minimum age for pilots in the open and specific categories is generally 16. Individual EU member states can reduce this by up to 4 years for the open category and 2 years for the specific category.
There is no minimum age for pilots of drones weighing less than 250g and which are categorised as toys (ie ones designed or intended for use in play by children under 14). The EU obligations on pilots and operators will be discussed in Part 5.
While there does not seem to be a minimum age specified for operators in the EU, given the responsibilities on operators, it appears that children can't be operators of drones over 250g.
The EU Regulations also provide for a registration system for certain drones and operators. Operators will need to register themselves and display their registration number on their drone if it is:
Drone operators have a duty to report any safety related occurrence to the competent authority.
Any authorisations granted to operators and certificates of pilot competency based on national law of EU Member States shall remain valid until 1 July 2021. After this date, Member States need to convert them so as to comply with the EU Regulations.