Italy’s ENAC “re-writes national drone laws to comply with new EU rules”

According to the International Law Office, in a post marked 24 February 2021, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) has issued a new regulation on unmanned aircraft which aligns the existing national rules with EU Regulation 2018/1139.

“The new ENAC regulation covers the matters for which member states are responsible pursuant to EU Commission Delegated Regulation 2019/945 and EU Commission Implementing Regulation 2019/947, including:

  • certifying pilots;
  • implementing a registration system for operators and drones;
  • issuing authorisations, confirming receipt of declarations and supervising operations;
  • establishing airspace restrictions;
  • enforcing operators’ and pilots’ compliance with EU Regulation 2018/1139;
  • promoting flight operation safety;
  • inspecting operators, pilots and drones to verify their compliance with applicable rules; and
  • maintaining, modifying, suspending, limiting or revoking authorisations and certificates needed to perform drone operations in the open and specific categories or imposing other measures or penalties, if necessary.

The ENAC regulation also governs the transitional period to ensure a gradual conversion from the use of the previous certifications to those granted in compliance with the EU Aviation Safety Agency requirements. Until 1 January 2023, drones that have no class marking can be used in the limited open category, where the national authority usually has the right to impose additional requirements on the pilot. ENAC has decided to remain aligned with the open categories of EU Regulation 2018/1139 and has not imposed additional requirements on pilots of unmarked drones.

“Therefore, the following rules apply.

  • For drones with a take-off mass of less than 250g (including self-built drones with a maximum speed of 19 metres per second), pilots need not obtain a certificate and must be registered with the authority only if the drone is equipped with a camera.
  • For drones with a take-off mass of between 250g and 500g, pilots must have obtained a A1/A3 online certificate from the ENAC portal and be registered with the authority. Flights must not be conducted over crowds.
  • For drones with a take-off mass of between 500g and 2kg, flights must maintain a minimum horizontal distance of 50m away from people. Pilots must have obtained an A1/A3 certificate and have passed a further written theory exam.
  • For drones with a take-off mass of between 2kg and 25kg (including self-built drones), flights must be conducted at least 150m away from residential, industrial and recreational areas and only in locations where the remote pilot can reasonably expect not to endanger anyone during the flight. Pilots must have obtained an A1/A3 online certificate from the ENAC portal and be registered with the authority.

In addition, the ENAC regulation prohibits drone operations where the operator has no insurance coverage within the minimum thresholds established under EC Regulation 785/2004. Operators are also responsible for:

  • verifying flight spaces and maximum heights (unmanned aircraft system geographical areas) set out by ENAC;
  • registering on the D-Flight portal; and
  • affixing a QR code to their drone for identification purposes and any operational liability issues that may arise.

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(Image: Shutterstock)

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