EASA proposes rules for safe drone operations

Europe aviation officials have tabled proposals that will require any drone weighing more than 250g to be remotely identifiable with those over 900g to be fitted with geofencing technology to prevent entry into no-go zones such as airports.

Under the proposals published by the European Aviation Safety agency said anything below the 250g weight threshold is deemed to pose only negligible safety risk.

Geofencing will be required for heavier drones, and those transiting certain operational zones which member states themselves will be able to restrict for security or privacy reasons.

EASA is recommending that such a future geofencing system should provide an interface to update data containing information on airspace limitations and requirements, as well as to ensure the integrity and validity of this data.

It should also provide information about the airspace limitations and requirements where the drone operates as well as the position and movement of the drone relative to those limitations; in addition to providing information on the status of the system as well as on the validity of its position or navigation data.

“If the [drone] has a functionality that limits its access to certain airspace areas or volumes, this functionality shall be used in a manner that it interacts smoothly with the flight control without adversely affecting flight safety,” EASA said in the document. “In addition, sufficient information shall be provided to the remote pilot when the [drone] approaches areas with airspace limitations or when the geofencing system engages with the [drone] flight control system.

The following have been proposed to be classified as certified-category operations:

  • large or complex UAS operating continuously over open assemblies of people;
  • large or complex UAS operating BVLOS in high-density airspace;
  • UAS used for transport of people; and
  • UAS used for the carriage of dangerous goods, which may result in high risk for third-parties in case of crash.

EASA is also recommending that the design requirements for small drones will be implemented using the CE product legislation already applied across Europe accompanied by a “dos and don’ts” leaflet in all product boxes. “Based on the drone class, an operator will know in which area he can operate and what competence is required,” said EASA.

The proposal is now open for comment from May 12 until August 12 and EASA will submit its final opinion to the European Commission at the end of 2017.

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