EASA publishes “Easy access rules for UAS” including U-space interactions and drone registration details

The European Aviation Safety Agency has published its Easy Access Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Regulations (EU) 2019/947 and (EU) 2019/945) regulation, which lays down detailed provisions for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems as well as for personnel, including remote pilots and organisations involved in those operations.

Although the regulation is aimed principally at drone operators its provisions cover the interaction between drone operators and U-Space providers and details of the drone registration system which each European Union member state should follow.

The following paragraphs outline the interaction between drone operators and U-space providers

  • While the ‘U-space’ system including the infrastructure, services and procedures to guarantee safe UAS operations and supporting their integration into the aviation system is in development, this Regulation should already include requirements for the implementation of three foundations of the U-space system, namely registration, geo-awareness and remote identification, which will need to be further completed
  • UAS operator — The UAS operator is responsible for the safe operation of the UAS, and hence the safety risk analysis. In accordance with Article 5 of the UAS Regulation, the UAS operator must substantiate the safety of the operation by performing the specific operational and risk assessment, except for the cases defined by the same Article 5. Supporting material for the assessment may be provided by third parties (e.g. the manufacturer of the UAS or equipment, U-space service providers, etc.). The UAS operator obtains an operational authorisation from the competent authority/ANSP.
  • Tactical air risk overview – Tactical mitigations take the form of detect and avoid (DAA) systems or alternate means, such as ADS-B, FLARM, U-space services or operational procedures. Depending on the residual risk of a mid-air collision, the tactical mitigation performance requirement(s) (TMPR(s)) may vary
  • As part of the SORA process, the UAS operator should cooperate with the relevant service provider for the airspace (e.g. the ANSP or U-space service provider) and obtain the necessary authorisations. Additionally, generic local authorisations or local procedures allowing access to a certain portion of controlled airspace may be used if available (e.g. the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability – LAANC – system in the United States).
  • Strategic mitigations for ground risk – The applicant evaluates the area of operations by use of authoritative density data (e.g. data from the U-space data service provider) relevant for the proposed area and time of operation to substantiate a lower density of people at risk. If the applicant claims a reduction, due to a sheltered operational environment, the applicant: (a) uses a UA of less than 25 kg and not flying above 174 knots4 , and (b) demonstrates that although the operation is conducted in a populated environment, it is reasonable to consider that most of the non-involved persons will be located within a building..
  • SORA U-space assumptions – The SORA has used U-space mitigations to a limited extent, because U-space is in the early stages of development. When U-space provides adequate mitigations to limit the risk of UAS encounters with manned aircraft, a UAS operator can apply for, and obtain credit for these mitigations, whether they are tactical or strategic.
  • Common airspace structures – In the future, as U-space structures and rules become more readily defined and adopted, they will provide a source for the strategic mitigation of UAS operations by common structures and rules that UAS operators could more easily apply.
  • Example of mitigation by common flight rules – The UAS operator intends to fly in a volume of airspace in which the competent authority requires all UAS to be equipped with an electronic cooperative system1 and anti-collision lighting. The rules further require the UAS operator to file a flight plan with the designated ANSP/U-space service providers, and check for potential hazards along the whole flight route. The operator complies with these requirements and installs anticollision lights and a Mode-S Transponder. The operator further agrees to file a flight plan prior to each flight. These rules enhance the safety of the flight in the same way as a notice to airmen (NOTAM). The UAS operator should also have a system in place to check for high airspace usage in the intended operational volume (e.g. a glider competition or a fly-in). In those situations where the UAS operator does not own the airspace in which the operational volume exists, the rules require the UAS operator to request permission prior to entering that airspace.
  • Lowering the initial ARC by common structures and rules (optional) – ….With the advent of UAS operations, VLL airspace is expected to soon become more crowded, requiring more common structures and rules to lower the collision risk. It is Easy Access Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Regulations (EU) 2019/947 and (EU) 2019/945) Cover regulation to Regulation (EU) 2019/947 Powered by EASA eRules Page 83 of 265| Mar 2020 anticipated that U-space services will provide these risk mitigation measures. This will require mandatory participation by all aircraft in that airspace, similar to how the current flight rules apply to all manned aircraft operating in a particular airspace today.

And the following paragraphs lay down the general principals for establishing a drone registration system:

  1. Member States shall establish and maintain accurate registration systems for UAS whose design is subject to certification and for UAS operators whose operation may present a risk to safety, security, privacy, and protection of personal data or environment.
  2. The registration systems for UAS operators shall provide the fields for introducing and exchanging the following information: (a) the full name and the date of birth for natural persons and the name and their identification number for legal persons; (b) the address of UAS operators; (c) their email address and telephone number; (d) an insurance policy number for UAS if required by Union or national law; (e) the confirmation by legal persons of the following statement: ‘All personnel directly involved in the operations are competent to perform their tasks, and the UAS will be operated only by remote pilots with the appropriate level of competency’; (f) operational authorisations and LUCs held and declarations followed by a confirmation in accordance with Article 12(5)(b).
  3. The registration systems for unmanned aircraft whose design is subject to certification shall provide the fields for introducing and exchanging the following information: (a) manufacturer’s name; (b) manufacturer’s designation of the unmanned aircraft; (c) unmanned aircraft’s serial number; (d) full name, address, email address and telephone number of the natural or legal person under whose name the unmanned aircraft is registered.
  4. Member States shall ensure that registration systems are digital and interoperable and allow for mutual access and exchange of information through the repository referred to in Article 74 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139.
  5. UAS operators shall register themselves: (a) when operating within the ‘open’ category any of the following unmanned aircraft: i. with a MTOM of 250 g or more, or, which in the case of an impact can transfer to a human kinetic energy above 80 Joules; ii. that is equipped with a sensor able to capture personal data, unless it complies with Directive 2009/48/EC. (b) when operating within the ‘specific’ category an unmanned aircraft of any mass. 6. UAS operators shall register themselves in the Member State where they have their residence for natural persons or where they have their principal place of business for legal persons and ensure that their registration information is accurate. A UAS operator cannot be registered in more than one Member State at a time. Member States shall issue a unique digital registration number for UAS operators and for the UAS that require registration, allowing their individual identification. The registration number for UAS operators shall be established on the basis of standards that support the interoperability of the registration systems;
  6. The owner of an unmanned aircraft whose design is subject to certification shall register the unmanned aircraft. The nationality and registration mark of an unmanned aircraft shall be established in line with ICAO Annex 7. An unmanned aircraft cannot be registered in more than one State at a time.
  7. The UAS operators shall display their registration number on every unmanned aircraft meeting the conditions described in paragraph 5.

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