New EASA opinion clarifies drone classifications, UTM rules roadmap

More clearly defined classes of remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) and their operational environments, a confirmed timeline for the implementation of European Union (EU) RPAS rules and a roadmap for introducing legislation to implement these rules are just some of the elements of opinion 01-2018_180207 from the European Aviation Safety Agency (

The opinion document lays out EASA’s approach to drone operating rule, for consideration by the European Commission. Under the timetable, the Commission will adopt implementing rules by the end of this year.

  • Start – terms of reference – 22.12.2016
  • Consultation – notice of proposed amendment – 4.5.2017
  • Proposal to the Commission – 6.2.2018
  • Adoption by the Commission – implementing rules – Q4 2018
  • Decision –certification, specifications, acceptable means of compliance, guidance material – Q1 2019

The opinion centres on three major areas of UTM functions – registration, e-identification and geo-awareness. According to the EASA document:

  • Registration: this is an essential element for enforcement. The proposed regulation requires the registration of any UAS operator who conducts an operation using a UA with an MTOM greater than 250 g. Since it is expected that some of the services offered by U-Space will also require the unique identification of the UA, a standardised format for the UA SN has been added in the technical requirements
  • E-identification: A ‘local’ e-identification to be broadcast over a close range for enforcement purposes will be required. The functionality is mandatory for all UAS in classes C1, C2 and C3. For the C4 class, this functionality is required when the UA is operated in an area where e-identification is mandatory. UAS in class C0 have been excluded, consistent with the registration requirements. The characteristics of this ‘local’ e-identification function corresponds to the security needs. U-Space services may however require the development of a network identification function presenting the appropriate performances;
  • Geo-awareness: at present, this function is for awareness only, to support the remote pilot in complying with the limitations in the area defined by the MSs. The term ‘geo-fencing’ has been replaced by ‘geo-awareness’ to better reflect the nature of the requirement already proposed in the NPA. It is preferable to give to the UAS operator full responsibility for flying the UA in areas away from prohibited or restricted zones.

Also new is the way the legislation will be introduced into national law – with the operations and registration rules to be introduced via a European Commission regulation while Member States will be responsible for introducing national legislation to cover design and production. According to analysis of the opinion by UVS International (

“The new Basic Regulation revised the adoption process to be used by the European Commission, in particular for UAS: regulation concerning operations and registration is adopted as an implementing rule, while regulation concerning design and production and third country operations is adopted as a delegated act. This has forced EASA to split the regulation in 2 parts: a delegated act, containing the requirement to make products available on the European Union market (Annex II in the NPA), including the technical requirements applicable to UAS classes and the article on third country UAS operators; an implementing rule containing the remaining provisions.”

“Moreover, the new Basic Regulation defined different requirements for registration and it mandates the registration of UAS operators that conduct operations with an Unmanned Aircraft (UA) that: is able to transfer ‘80 J’ of terminal kinetic energy in an impact with a person; poses a security, privacy or environmental risk; or is certified. No UA registration is required, unless the UA is certified…The last change made concerns the applicability. It is anticipated to ask Member States to establish the registration system and the definition of no UAS zones or restricted UAS zones, six months after entry into force.”

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