Latest update: 11 June 2019
On 12 March the European Commission adopted the so-called “Delegated Act” on unmanned aircraft systems and on third-country operators of unmanned aircraft systems.The final and legally binding version of this Delegated Act was published in the EU Official Journal on 11 June 2019 (Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 of 12 March 2019 on unmanned aircraft systems and on third-country operators of unmanned aircraft systems).
This Delegated Act comes in addition to the earlier “Implementing Act” on the operation of unmanned aircraft and completes the package of rules that are relevant for model aircraft pilots.
The Delegated Act sets the rules for:
- The certification and sale of unmanned aircraft systems for use in the open category;
- The operation of “third country operators” (= non-EU) of unmanned aircraft in the European Union.
The most relevant points for model aircraft pilots are:
- The provisions on “third country operators” (pilots from non-EU countries)(Article 41 of the Delegated Act): Model aircraft pilots from non-EU countries that come to fly in the EU will need to register in the first country where they intend to operate. If they intend to fly in the open category, they also need to do their training and test there. This is in particular important for competitions with non-EU participants. The EU can however also recognise registration and tests in non-EU countries as “equivalent”. Note that countries such as Switzerland, which are likely to apply the EU legislation, are considered as EU countries, and not as third countries.
- Requirements for Class C4, which was designed for “plug and play” model aircraft to be flown under the “open category” (see Part 5 of the Annex, Requirements for a class C4 Unmanned aircraft system, page 10 onwards). These must be less than 25kg and “not be capable of automatic control modes except for flight stabilisation assistance with no direct effect on the trajectory and lost link assistance provided that a pre-determined fixed position of the flight controls in case of lost link is available”. Unlike the other classes, this class has no significant technical requirements for its certification (other classes have geo-fencing, automatic height limitations, illumination etc.), so that the legal production and sale of these models with a CE label is secured for the future.
Note that a “Delegated Act” goes through a different legislative procedure than the “Implementing Act” (see: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/regdel/#/delegatedActs/1202). The European Commission’s EASA Committee does not play a formal role in its adoption. Instead, the Commission was required to seek advice from a so-called “Expert Committee”, which it did in December 2018, and the Act was subject to a 2-month “scrutiny period” from the European Parliament (which did not lead to any changes). Following it’s publication in the EU Official Journal on 11 June 2019, the Delegated Act will enter into force on 1 July 2019. Transitional periods for the use of non-certified model aircraft are set out in the Implementing Act (Article 20 and 22).
The author, Jürgen Lefevere, is a model aircraft pilot with a passion for large scale gliders. He is also a lawyer with more than 25 years’ experience in the area of EU law and has lectured at universities throughout Europe. Jürgen is an EU official, worked for the European Commission from 2003 until 2014 and is now on unpaid sabbatical leave. Since the middle of 2017 he has acted as a legal adviser for the Swiss Aeromodelling Federation (SMV), which is also working with several other aeromodelling associations in EU Member States on their input in the EU regulatory process. This contribution does not represent the views of any of the EU institutions, or the SMV. The author is not responsible for possible errors in the analysis