EASA publishes updated plan for drone and eVTOL operational rules

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has published ToR RMT.0230, the latest version of plan to introduce a regulatory framework for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems and for urban air mobility in the European Union aviation system.

The following is an extract from the document which outlines the latest EASA thinking on how urban air mobility operations will be regulated, including the introduction of new certification specifications for eVTOLs and airspace integration.

“To address UAS operations in the ‘certified category’, which imply the certification of the aircraft, of the pilot, and of the operator, EASA will propose amendments to the existing regulations that are applicable to manned aviation. To cover the maintenance of UAS that are operated in the ‘certified’ category, EASA will propose a new delegated regulation, as required by Article 58 of the Basic Regulation. Such regulation will also cover the continuing airworthiness of UAS that are operated in the ‘specific’ category and are certified pursuant to Article 40(1)(d) of Regulation (EU) 2019/945.

High-risk UAS operations in the ‘certified’ category include the following:

— certification and continuing airworthiness of UAS and related products, parts, and appliances;

— approval of design, production, and maintenance organisations;

 — air operator certificates;

— operational requirements to take off from and land at vertiports;

— aerodrome/vertiport design and operational services;

— safe and efficient integration of UAS into the airspace; and

— licences of personnel, particularly of remote pilots.

The future rules will provide for the necessary requirements to allow for UAS operations, mitigating the increased level of risk to third parties on the ground and in the air. The integration of UAS operations into non-segregated airspace may take some more time as essential technologies are not yet fully mature for implementation.

Therefore, Implementing Regulation (EU) No 923/2012 (‘Standardised European Rules of the Air’ (SERA)) will be progressively updated in two phases:

  • In Phase 1, the SERA Regulation will be reviewed to identify potential issues that could hamper the scale-up of UAS operations and to propose limited rule changes or guidelines to resolve these issues without affecting manned-aviation operations. Comprehensive rule changes are expected only in Phase 2.
  • In Phase 2, more detailed rules of the air will be developed, including specific flight rules in addition to the existing ones, to enable the safe integration of UAS into the airspace and seamless operations of manned and unmanned aircraft.

Based on the first deliverables of the Joint Aviation Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS), two airworthiness certification specifications (CSs) for UAS will be issued:

— Certification Specifications for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CS-UAS): a ‘vertical’ CS containing requirements for the systems peculiar to UAS (e.g. command unit, command and control link, etc.). Requirements for other systems (e.g. structure, landing gear, etc.) will be derived from the available CSs for the related manned aircraft (e.g. CS-23, CS-27, etc.).

— Certification Specifications for Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CS-Light UAS): a ‘horizontal’ CS containing requirements for small UAS for which equivalent manned-aircraft requirements are not available, including for those UAS anticipated to be operated in the ‘specific’ category.

The progress of UAS and urban air mobility (UAM) technologies, as well as the completion of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulatory activities, may drive further proposals to introduce new or amend existing rules in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Regulation. The EASA proposal concerning operations in the ‘certified category’ will address UAM with manned VTOL aircraft, including also other types of operations that may be conducted with manned VTOL aircraft, while UAS and unmanned VTOL aircraft operations will be regulated at a later stage.

For the certification of VTOL aircraft, EASA will develop new CSs (CS-VTOL). The objectives listed in Chapter 2 will be considered when drafting the new rules, which should be design-independent and applicable to all UAS categories, limiting as much as possible the prescriptive requirements.

Considering the level of complexity of the regulatory architecture to enable UAS operations in the ‘certified category’ and UAM, this RMT is split in multiple subtasks and phases, leading to Opinions and Decisions that will establish the regulatory framework to meet the objectives of Chapter 2.

What are the deliverables

4.1 General

— NPAs with draft implementing/delegated rules, CSs, AMC, and GM.

— Opinions with draft implementing/delegated rules applicable to the operation and certification of UAS, and to organisations and personnel involved in these operations, as well as for enabling UAM.

— Decisions with the related acceptable means of compliance (AMC) and guidance material (GM).

— Decisions with CSs detailing the objectives to comply with the essential requirements for operations of UAS in the ‘certified’ category; such CSs may be based on Special Conditions that EASA may publish in the meantime. EASA will coordinate the work on the several subtasks to ensure harmonisation of the various deliverables.

4.2 RMT.0230(A) — Unmanned Aircraft System operations in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories — Completed Opinion No 01/2018 resulted in the adoption of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. The related ED Decision 2019/021/R with the AMC and GM for low- and medium-risk UAS operations identifies when a specific authorisation is needed, and includes provisions for manufacturers, operators, and authorities, as well as the first PDRA. 4.3

RMT.0230(B) — U-space and airspace integration — Partially completed Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664 on a high-level regulatory framework for the U-space provides for the necessary conditions for manned and unmanned aircraft:

— to safely operate in the U-space;

— to prevent collisions between aircraft; and

— to mitigate the air and ground risks.

The regulation also allows for local implementation at MS level or even at regional/local level, which is suitable for and adapted to the local UAS traffic and traffic complexity. A related decision with AMC and GM to ensure such flexibility is being finalized.

4.4. RMT.0230(C) — Unmanned Aircraft System operations in the ‘certified’ category and urban air mobility

— Ongoing UAS operations in the ‘certified’ category are grouped into three types:

— Type #1 operations: Instrument flight rules (IFR) operations of UAS for the carriage of cargo in airspace classes A–C (ICAO airspace classification) and taking off from and/or landing at aerodromes falling under the Basic Regulation.

— Type #2 operations: operations of UAS taking off and/or landing in a congested (e.g. urban) environment using predefined routes in the U-space airspace (part of the operation could be in a non-congested, e.g. rural, environment). These include operations of unmanned VTOL aircraft carrying passengers (e.g. air taxis) or cargo (e.g. goods delivery services).

— Type #3 operations: same as for type #2 operations with VTOL aircraft with a pilot on board, including operations out of the U-space airspace.

EASA will draft three opinions and related decisions with AMC and GM:

— the first opinion will cover type #3 operations of manned VTOL aircraft carrying passengers or cargo in congested (urban) and non-congested (non-urban) environments, as well as UAS operations in the ‘specific’ high-risk categories;

and — the second opinion will cover type#3 operations (in the remaining operational conditions not addressed by the first opinion) and type #1 operations;

and — the third opinion will cover type #2 operations of UAS (passengers and cargo).

The opinions will propose at different stages amendments to the following Regulations: — Regulation (EU) No 965/201212 (‘Air OPS’). The first opinion will propose a new Annex (Part-IAM13) to cover manned UAM operations in congested and non-congested areas, including the operational requirements for taking off from and landing at vertiports. It will also propose amendments to Annex II (Part-ARO), Annex III (Part-ORO), and Annex V (Part-SPA) to the Air OPS Regulation, to accommodate emergency medical services operations with VTOL.

The second opinion will propose amendments to Annex IV (Part-CAT) to said Regulation, to accommodate type#1 operations, as well as related amendments to Part-ARO and Part-ORO, as necessary.

The third opinion will amend the new Part-IAM to accommodate UAS operations. — Regulation (EU) No 1178/201114 (‘Aircrew’).

The first opinion will introduce provisions and criteria to allow holders of commercial pilot licences for aeroplanes and helicopters to be issued with a type rating for VTOL aircraft. The second opinion will propose a new Annex (Part-RPL15) to cover the remote-pilot license, an amendment to Annex I (Part-FCL), to include a new license for manned VTOL aircraft, and amendments to Annex VI (Part-ARA), Annex VII (Part-ORA), and Annex IV (Part-MED). — Regulation (EU) No 748/201216 (‘IAW’).

The amendments will introduce a certification process applicable to UAS and its essential elements (e.g. C2 link, command unit (CU)) and will identify the applicable environmental protection requirements. Note: the environmental protection requirements applicable to UAS subject to certification and to VTOL aircraft to which the provisions of ICAO Annex 16 would not apply are addressed by RMT.0727.

— Regulation (EU) No 1321/201417 (‘CAW’), mainly for harmonisation purposes. Said Regulation will be complemented by a new delegated and implementing regulation (as required by Article 58 of the Basic Regulation) on the continuing-airworthiness requirements for UAS subject to certification. Note: the continuing airworthiness of manned VTOL aircraft is addressed by RMT.0731.

— Regulation (EU) No 923/201218 (‘SERA’) for the safe integration of UAS into the airspace. This update may include amendments to the SERA phraseology.

— Regulation (EU) No 139/201419 (‘ADR’) on UAS operations in aerodromes under EU competence.

4.5 RMT.0230(D) — Certification Specifications for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CS-UAS and CS-Light UAS), Certification Specifications for vertical take-off and landing aircraft (CSVTOL), and CS-ETSO — Planned

 EASA will issue one or more Decisions on the new CSs for UAS (CS-UAS and CS-Light UAS), including at AMC level the safety objectives for the airworthiness of civil UAS. To complement the regulatory landscape of VTOL aircraft, EASA will issue another decision to introduce the new CS-VTOL. In addition, EASA will issue a Decision to amend the Certification Specifications for European Technical Standard Orders (CS-ETSO) regarding equipment that is installed on UAS or used to operate UAS.

4.6 RMT.0230(E) — Airspace Usage Requirements and air traffic management/air navigation services interoperability requirementsPlanned

An Opinion will propose to amend Regulation (EU) No 1332/201120 and other ATM/ANS Interoperability Regulations, as applicable21,22, regarding airspace integration, and the related decisions with the AMC and GM will be published. Another decision will amend the Certification Specifications and Acceptable Means of Compliance for Airborne Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CS-ACNS). The need to amend Regulations (EU) 2017/37323 and (EU) 2015/34024 will be assessed at a later stage: whether to implement the relevant operational procedures and training requirements stemming from the amendments of the aforementioned regulations.

4.7 RMT.0230(F) — Environmental protection

Planned Environmental protection is planned to be addressed in a two-phased approach. EASA will use special conditions to propose the first set of requirements. Once experience is acquired, the regulatory framework will be adapted as necessary. EASA will issue a decision on the environmental aspects of the operation of UAS to amend the Certification Specifications for Aircraft Noise (CS-36). The Decision may also cover the Certification Specification for Aircraft Engine Emissions and Fuel Venting (CS-34) and the Certification Specification for Aeroplane CO2 Emissions (CS-CO2), if these rules need to be amended accordingly.

4.8 RMT.0230(G) — Certification Specifications for vertiports design (CS-VPT-DSN) and Certification Specifications for aerodromes design (CS-ADR-DSN) — Planned

EASA will issue decisions to create Certification Specifications for vertiports design (CS-VPT-DSN) based on the ‘Prototype Technical Design Specifications for Vertiports’25 and to amend the Certification Specification for aerodrome design (CS-ADR-DSN).

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