EASA’s new role in drone regulation introduced in parallel with new cybersecurity responsibilities

The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) On Air digital publication has given more information about the implications of the 11 September 2018 adoption by the Council of the European Union of updated aviation safety rules for Europe, which include a new mandate for EASA.

“This new mandate consolidates EASA’s scope to cover the full spectrum of the aviation landscape and reinforces the European aviation system as a whole, with the possibility for EASA and European Member States to work closer together in a flexible way,” says the agency. “The so-called new Basic Regulation formalises EASA’s role in the domain of drones and urban air mobility, enabling the Agency to prepare rules for all sizes of civil drones and harmonize standards for the commercial market across Europe. The regulation enlarges the Agency’s role in areas such as in environmental protection, research and development, or international cooperation. The new mandate also gives EASA a coordinating role in cybersecurity in aviation. The regulation was published in the EU Official Journal on 22nd August 2018 and entered into force on 11th September 2018.”

The new mandate which redefines the Agency’s competences is found in Regulation (EU) 2018/1139.

“These first EU-wide regulations for civil drones are based on an innovative way of regulating, where the rules are kept as simple as possible with a strong focus on the particular risk of the operations: flying the same drone over a city centre or over the sea entails a completely different risk. It takes into account the expertise of many international players in the drone domain. They will allow remotely piloted aircraft to fly safely in European airspace and bring legal certainty for this rapidly expanding industry.

“Before the new EASA Basic regulation was formally adopted, Member States were responsible for all drones lighter than 150 kg. Ahead of the extension of competence EASA decided in February 2018, to issue the proposal for a new regulation – EASA Opinion No 01/20181 – to the European Commission. EASA has been working on this draft regulation for the last two years, taking into account both the expertise gained by Member States and all the developments in the international arena (e.g. work done in the International Civil Aviation organisation (ICAO); in the Joint Authorities for the Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS); and thousands of comments received from private citizens, industry and operators during the four-month public consultation period. The proposed regulation will harmonise operations regulations in Europe and create a common EU market for drones. It will allow everyone to buy and operate a drone ensuring:

  • Safety, by keeping drones away from manned aircraft, protecting people and critical and sensitive infrastructure;
  • Security, by keeping drones at an appropriate distance from nuclear reactors, military bases or oil pipelines;
  • Privacy, by means of a proper separation from residential areas;
  • Environmental protection, by reducing the noise level.

One of EASA’s novelties is the combination between product and aviation legislations in these new rules. In particular, design requirements for small drones (up to 25kg) will be implemented by using the well-known CE marking (“Conformité Européenne”) for products brought on the market in Europe. All European drones will have assigned a CE-Marking with a number between 0 and 4, that will specify the class of the drone (C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4). The operator will then find in each drone package a digital consumer information with the “do’s and don’ts” related to each class on how to fly a drone safely.”

“U-Space is the term adopted for a set of services supporting low level drone operations (below 120 m). A fully automated infrastructure will provide the drone pilots with all the information needed to conduct a safe operation, including air traffic management, and will ensure that drones do not enter any restricted zones.  In particular, U-Space will provide support to Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations and will be the fundamental basis for dense operations in urban areas. The latest technology will be used to reinforce the regulation and protect citizen’s rights. Starting in 2019, U-Space will be gradually deployed, the foundation elements will be set up: drone registration, electronic identification and geo-awareness. Additional functionalities will be progressively added until U-Space is operational in 2025, allowing fully autonomous operations.

For more information





1EASA Opinion No 01/2018 “Unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories”

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