As the use of drones becomes increasingly popular, drone operators need to understand their responsibilities when flying these aircraft. While drones can be a fun and useful tool for capturing aerial footage or delivering packages, they also have the potential to cause harm if not used safely and responsibly. As a drone operator, there are several specific responsibilities that you should be aware of to ensure that you are flying your drone safely and legally. What are these? We summarized the legislation for easier understanding.

 As a drone operator flying in the ’specific’ category, you must:

·       check to see whether the drone has a sticker or other means of displaying the drone operator registration number and that the remote identification has the same number;

·       Create operational procedures (when the drone operator uses more than one remote pilot, documented procedures are required; otherwise, it is sufficient for the remote pilot to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer in the user’s handbook);

·       make sure there isn’t any radio interference that could interfere with the drone’s command and control link;

·       Choose a remote pilot for each operation; it is crucial to know who is in charge of each flight;

·       Ensure that the drone operator’s manual and the user’s manual are both familiar to the remote pilot and the team supporting the operation of the drone.

·       make sure that the remote pilot and the team supporting drone operation are knowledgeable about the user’s handbook and drone operator’s procedures, possess the necessary competency, and are given the pertinent information regarding any geographical zones issued by the MS;

·       Unless you are flying in a region where geo-awareness is not necessary, make sure the drone’s geo-awareness system has the most recent maps;

·       Unless you are using a drone that was manufactured privately, make sure it has a CE class mark declaration and that its class label (0 to 4) is attached to the aircraft. You should also make sure that anyone operating the drone is aware of the risks under subcategories A2 and A3.

·       execute each action within the parameters specified in the declaration or operational authorization; create processes to ensure the operation’s security; set up safeguards against unauthorised access and interference;

·       provide the remote pilot with instructions on how to minimise the annoyance caused by noise and emissions, ensure that the pilot conducting the operation and the other personnel in charge comply with all conditions required for operating in the “specific” category, and possibly be required to conduct a data protection impact assessment if the National Aviation Authority so requests;

·       Maintain a record of the drone operation, and keep it in good working order to ensure safety.

What are my responsibilities as a remote pilot in the ‘specific’ category?

As a remote pilot, you must:

Before the flight:

·       complete the education and testing necessary for the operation type you will be participating in;

·       possess pertinent knowledge that is current regarding any geographic zones that the National Aviation Authority has released;

·       Unless flying in the A1 subcategory with a drone that was developed by the operator privately or has a CE class 0 certification, look out for obstructions and the presence of individuals who are not participating in drone operation.

·       verify that the drone is prepared for flight and the task it will do;

·       Verify the remote control’s functionality (if applicable); and confirm that the drone’s weight is within the range allowed for the operation’s category or subcategory.

·       check to see if the operating environment complies with the permitted or stated constraints

·       ensure that the proposed operation is communicated to Air Traffic Services, airspace users, and other stakeholders. ensuring that the operating environment is compliant with the allowed or stated constraints.

·       keep the drone at a distance from you so that you can see it clearly during the flight in the “specific” category; you may use a UA observer to scan the airspace when you want to fly in first-person view; and you must not operate the drone if you are intoxicated, sick, or otherwise unfit to do so.

·       UA observers must be situated next to you so they can speak with you right away if they spot an obstruction and offer you directions like “immediately land the aircraft”

During the flight in the ’specific’ category, you must:

Keep the drone far enough away so that you can see it. If you wish to fly in first person, you can utilise an observer to survey the airspace. UA observers must be situated next to you to communicate with you as soon as they spot an obstruction and offer you directions, for example, to instantly land the drone.

Give way to any manned aircraft you see and stay well away from it if you or the UA observer notice one. You should instantly land the drone if you have any doubts about the operation.

Obey the geographical zone restrictions; fly the drone following the owner’s manual provided by the manufacturer;

Obey the operator’s instructions; refrain from flying where an emergency response service is in progress (for example, if there is an accident, stay away from the scene as an emergency helicopter may need to be utilised);

Respect the permitted or announced restrictions.

What should I do when purchasing a drone to be used in the open category?

According to the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945’s Annex, the operator is responsible for getting a reasonable level of assurance that the drone they are purchasing complies with the regulations that apply to its C classes 1 through 6.

The operator must make sure in particular that direct purchases from outside the EU should be avoided as the UAS may not be designed for the EU market and may not adhere to EU regulations.

The drone comes with a declaration of conformity attesting to its compliance with the Drone Regulation (EU) 2019/945, and it has the appropriate class label from 1 to 6.

When I buy a drone to be operated in the open category or in the standard scenario (STS) in the specific category, what should I do?

The operator is responsible for obtaining reasonable confidence that the drone he/she is acquiring complies with requirements applicable to its C class 1 – 6 (ref: Annex of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945).

In particular, the operator needs to ensure that:

·       buying directly from outside the EU should be avoided as the UAS may not be intended for the EU market and may not comply with EU legislation.

·       the drone bears the appropriate class label from 1 to 6 and it comes with a declaration of conformity showing compliance with the Drone Regulation (EU) 2019/945.

·       when buying a second-hand UAS, obtain reasonable confidence that the UAS has not been damaged or modified in a way that affects its initial compliance with the Drone Regulation (EU) 2019/945.

·       the initial compliance of the UAS to the requirements of its C Class is maintained throughout its lifetime, in particular, that the UAS is not damaged or modified in a way that could affect it.

When buying a second-hand UAS, obtain reasonable assurance that a used unmanned aircraft system has not been harmed or altered in a way that affects its initial conformity with the Drone Regulation (EU) 2019/945.

Throughout its lifetime, the UAS must remain in initial conformity with the specifications of its C Class, in particular by not being hurt or altered in any way that might have an impact.

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