European safety agency publishes regulatory framework for drone service deliveries

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published the full regulatory framework setting the parameters for drone services such as parcel delivery in urban areas, railway and power lines inspection, or delivery of essential supplies into crisis zones.

The framework enables unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in urban environment categorised as medium risk in the specific category. It comprises the agency decision amending the risk assessment methodology – known as Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) – with regard to flight over-populated areas and assemblies of people, and the Airworthiness Standards known as Special Condition Light UAS Medium Risk. The easy access rule document will be updated in January, and Special Conditions Light UAS for high risk operation in specific category will be published in 2021.

This signals everything is now in place for the application of the Eu drone regulation by 31 December 2020.

The standards are the result of a proposal published in July and take into account the comments received from stakeholders. Standards for the operations characterised by a high risk in the specific category are scheduled to be published by EASA in 2021.

“With the publication of these documents, European drone operators can now safely operate drones in populated areas,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. “This is a matter of concern and interest for many European citizens and we are pleased to now have the needed regulatory framework in place to allow industry to go ahead and implement new innovative service solutions.”

To complete the package EASA will soon provide further advisory/guidance material addressing a proportionate approach to type certification, approval of design organizations and continuing airworthiness, already applicable with the current framework, for drones operated in the specific category medium risk. These clear rules mean the drone industry can estimate the cost of their activities and define their business plan.

All elements to implement the new EU drone regulation, that will become applicable from December 31, 2020, are now available. Drone operations may provide public services including the possibility to safely transport medical equipment and vaccines.

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