Implementing Rule 2019/947 of the European Commission builds the regulatiory foundations for UAS operations in the European single aviation market. It is complemented by Delegated Regulation 2019/945, specifying airworhiness requirements for UAS and associated systems. IR2019/947 is applicable from January 2021 to the entire European single aviation market.
After the publication of the revised version of the Basic Regulation in 2018, the European commission created the legal basis to regulate airborne systems also below a maximum takeoff mass of 150kg. Following this, the regulatory framework for UAS operations was established similar to IR965/2012 for manned air operations. The aim of these rules is to harmonise rules for drone operations in Europe and enable operators to operate within the entire EU, instead of being limited by national approvals.
IR2019/947 foresees 3 operating categories depending on the level of risk induced through the operations:
Open: The open category aims to provide the possibility to operate low-risk missions without the need for special approval of any form. This category is however limited to operations within line of sight (VLOS) and to an altitude below 120 meters above ground level (AGL). Furthermore, UAS operating in the open category cannot approach 3rd parties on ground closer than 30 meters. These limitations prevent certain applications which were previously conducted in a national open category, to be excecuted in the open category under EASA.
Specific: The specific operating category aims to enable missions which do not repsect the limitations of the open category, without requiring full certification of the platforms. Within the specific category, three approaches of safety and risk management can be used, in order to operate in this category. The first one being the operational risk assessment, following the methodology established by JARUS for their Specific Operational Risk Assessment (SORA). Secondly, an operator can declare that his or her operations is conducted in compliance with a standard scenario published by EASA. This does not require any action of the authority, except for ensuring that the limitations are respected. The third approach is the certification of the operator as a light UAS operator. This certification does not go to the extent of manned operator certification, although it requires the operator to nominate an accounable manager and establish a risk management system which is approved by the authority. As a result the LUC-holder is authorised to approve his own risk assessments, without the need of the national authority to review.
Certified: The certified category enables high-risk operations such as the transport of people or dangerous goods. It must be compliant with all applicable manned EU aviation standards such as IR965/2012 and CR748/2012, amongst others. This category has the advantage of all operations being not only compliant with EASA standards but also with ICAO standards. This category currently lacks specifics on how systems for Detect and Avoid (DAA) or Command and Control (C2) can be certified.