What kind of regulations apply to drones in the Specific category?
When a drone does not fit the criteria for the Open category, it might still be operated within the Specific category. In this article, we examine the regulations, training, and certifications these drones require, as well as the duties they demand from operators.
Do all remote pilots in the Specific category receive drone pilot training?
For operations falling under the Specific category, the training depends on the operation you intend to execute. You must thus suggest a potential training session to the National Aviation Authority after the risk assessment unless the operation fits into a regular scenario. Each time, the authority will assess the training’s suitability, and if they certify it in the operational authorisation, the training will become necessary.
If your operation falls under a standard scenario, the remote pilot is required to have the following credentials:
- a certificate of theoretical remote pilot knowledge for operation under standard scenarios;
- a certificate of successful completion of the STS-01 practical skill training.
The remote pilot must first finish and pass an online training course. A competent authority or a designated entity may issue the accreditation as well as the certificate.
Who issues the remote pilot competency certificate for the ‘specific’ category and how long is it valid for?
The National Aviation Authority issues the certificates in typical circumstances. A remote pilot proficiency certificate remains valid for five years. If revalidation is required before the certificate expires, the remote pilot may attend a seminar offered by the National Aviation Authority or by a body recognised by it. Otherwise, competencies must be re-demonstrated. For activities in the Specific category not covered by conventional scenarios, the training will be outlined in the operating authorisation offered by the National Aviation Authority.
Will the competency certificate for the ‘specific’ category be recognised throughout Europe?
Yes, training conducted in one EASA Member State will be recognised in all others.
Do I need authorisation before flying my drone in the Specific category?
Drone operators only need to submit a declaration to the National Aviation Authority when operating under the Specific category if operations can be carried out within the parameters of a standard scenario and using the proper drone. They then need to wait for the confirmation that their declaration has been received and is complete. An operating authorisation issued by the National Aviation Authority is required for all other operations under the Specific category.
I fall under the specific category, so how do I obtain an authorisation?
First, determine whether a standard scenario can handle your operation. If it can, you do not need authorisation but have to provide a declaration to the National Aviation Authority. A typical case would be an operation listed in the drone regulation’s appendix (EU Regulation 2019/947).
Use a drone with a proper class identification marking (5 or 6). You can only operate within the restrictions of the standard scenario after submitting the declaration to the National Aviation Authority and receiving their confirmation of receipt and completeness. In the absence of that, there are other ways to get operational authorization under the Specific category, depending on the level of risk the activity presents.
A possible approach is the SORA (special operation risk assessment), found as AMC1 to Article 11 of Regulation (EU) 2019/947.
Operational authorization is obtained by completing a risk assessment of the intended operation using a methodology for the risk assessment. This methodology assists in determining the operation’s level of risk as well as the necessary mitigations and operational safety goals.
The drone operator submits all the necessary information to the National Aviation Authority and requests operational authorization whenever they feel they have implemented sufficient safeguards to ensure the safety of the operation. After receiving approval from the National Aviation Authority, the drone operator may begin operations.
Alternatively, an authorisation may be obtained by performing a risk assessment of the intended operation using a technique; one potential approach is the SORA (specific operation risk analysis). This methodology assists in determining the operation’s level of risk as well as the necessary mitigations and operational safety goals. The drone operator submits all information to the National Aviation Authority and requests an operational authorization whenever they feel they have implemented sufficient safeguards to ensure the safety of the operation. After receiving approval from the National Aviation Authority, the drone operator may begin operations.
As a streamlined method for the drone operator doing a risk assessment, a predefined risk assessment (PDRA) may take place to authorize operations. The list of measures that the drone operator must take to execute the operation safely will be published by EASA as an acceptable method of compliance with the drone legislation for those operations that will be the most prevalent in Europe.
The standardised practices specified in the PDRA will benefit both the drone operator and the National Aviation Authority, but an application for approval from the National Aviation Authority is still required. EASA publishes the PDRAs as AMC to Art. 11 of Regulation (EU) 2019/947; more are already in the works.
Finally, the last option is a Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC): This certification is optional, and the National Aviation Authority may grant the drone operator some privileges after receiving it. Drone operators may request an evaluation of their organisation by the National Aviation Authority to assess whether they can determine the risk of an operation on their own. Part C of Regulation (EU) 2019/947 defines the standards drone operators have to meet.
The National Aviation Authority will issue a light UAS operator certificate (LUC), and will then provide the drone operators privileges following their level of maturity. These may include one or more of the following: to engage in typical scenario procedures without submitting a declaration and to self-authorize all operations carried out by the drone operator without applying for authorisation, as well as operations carried out by the drone operator covered by a PDRA.
You can find out more about our unmanned aircraft system services here.