Our Take on the New EASA Regulations

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As many of our readers will be aware, the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) have proposed a new set of guidelines which regulate drone usage.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this announcement with complaints and even petitions appearing online to urge EASA to reconsider its stance.

Now that the dust has (somewhat) settled on the unveiling of their plans and the UK’s CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) is planning its own review of their current legislation ‘the Dronecode’, it’s time to take a look at what it all really means for the average drone user.

 


READ OUR INITIAL BLOG ABOUT THE EASA REGULATION PROPOSAL
Learn more about the different categories and risk factors involved.


 

In our capacity as a CAA approved NQE, as well as a member of the drone community since its inception, Heliguy has taken a look through these regulations to give you our opinion on what they mean for the industry moving forward.


THE NEW RULES 

This section provides a high-level outline of what you can expect from the current draft of the EASA’s proposed drone regulations.

Note: This is still subject to change and, according to numerous industry insiders, these amendments will likely not come into effect before 2018. For a more detailed analysis of each point raised in the report visit our initial blog post HERE.

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We’ve had a lot of customers requesting information on how these changes will affect them. As measures such as the mandatory registration and demarcation of aircraft start rolling out, the industry will need to adapt fast to remain ahead of the rules. This is also true, in the higher risk categories, of safety features and integrated redundancy.

Here is a brief overview of the two categories our customer and trainees are most likely to fall under.

 

OPEN

Official Description: “LOW RISK – No authorization is required to operate the unmanned aircraft, as long as forbidden or restricted drone zones, as defined by the national aviation authority (NAA), are respected. Safety is ensured through compliance with operational limitations, mass limitations as a proxy of energy, product safety requirements, and a minimum set of operational rules.”

This will be where many casual and first-time drone users find themselves placed on the EASA scale. This category covers smaller, entry-level drones and model aircraft that don’t weigh a great deal and are highly unlikely to be used for commercial purposes. With such a low weight allowance it’s less likely that many people will fall into this category unless they’re flying micro drones like those manufactured by Hubsan but this will still affect some users.

 

Key Points: OPEN

  • Weights of up to 250g
  • 100m Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)
  • 150ft maximum altitude

 

SPECIFIC

Official Description: “MEDIUM RISK – Authorisation is required by a national aviation authority (NAA), following a risk assessment performed by the operator. Some standard scenarios will be published by EASA providing the evaluation of the risk of that specific operation and the list of the required mitigation measures. For certain lower risk scenarios, a simple declaration sent by the operator to the NAA will be sufficient to start the operation.”

There are 4 sub-headings within the ‘SPECIFIC‘ category: ‘0’, ‘1’ and ‘2’ which offer 50m worth of altitude and ‘3’, allowing for 150m. Read on for the main takeaways from these classifications.

 

Categories 0, 1 and 2

The majority of operators (i.e. aerial photographers and videographers) will fall under this classification because of the aircraft most prevalently used such as the DJI Phantom and Inspire series which do not meet the requirements for Cat 3.

Users that qualify for this categorisation will no longer be required to undertake training courses to operate professionally, however, although this may seem like a shortcut to commercial operation, this will pose problems as aircraft insurance is mandatory and insurance companies require evidence of competency.

It’s not a total catch 22 though as, here at Heliguy, we have an extensive understanding of the drone insurance market and are in a position to offer fast-track competency-based courses to give pilots evidence to present to their selected provider and ensure that everything remains above board.

 

Category 3

This is the category that most people will want to fit into however it is likely to be expensive due to the craft requirements and documentation that needs to be implemented. Those looking to apply for Cat 3 classification will require a full training course such as the PfCO’s currently on offer through NQEs such as Heliguy.

As for the aforementioned aircraft requirements, to operate professionally under Cat 3, you’ll require something along the lines of the DJI Matrice 600 with its triple redundancy and A3 Pro flight controller to meet the levels of safety necessitated by EASA’s guidelines.

This category currently allows for operating altitudes of up to 500ft which would place the SUA in very close proximity to general aviation airspace which shares the same lower limit. It will be interesting to see how this conflict will be resolved as the regulations continue to evolve

 

Key Points: SPECIFIC 

  • Weights from 1-25kg
  • 500m VLOS
  • Maximum altitude
    • Categories 0, 1 and 2: 150ft
    • Category 3: 500ft
  • A separation of 25m from congested areas

 

 


OUR TAKE 

Now that you’ve had a chance to look through what to expect, here’s our perspective on the changing regulations and how we’re well-positioned to support our customers and trainees through the transition.

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Heliguy’s Training Team have looked into the EASA’s proposals and listed what they believe to be the main pros and cons with relation to drone usage in the UK.

 

ProsImage

  • The new regulations should reduce overall costs and administrative requirements if you’re able to operate within the guidelines for a SPECIFIC class 0, 1 and 2
  • If the operator has the correct kit it should make it easier for companies to adapt the tech as 25m is much better than the current 150m on 7-20kg craft
  • We are still in a position to help trainees gain insurance as the assessment criteria that is required is the same as we currently offer throughout our PfCO process

 

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  • Equipment will need to be compliant, showing registration details and also including a device to send out flight information which will be hard to integrate on old hardware
  • Gaining insurance could become a confusing process for those with class 0-2 aircraft as no training is required to fly – however, Heliguy can offer support with this issue
  • The regulations look set to hinder custom built aircraft which could have a serious effect on the development of UAV tech in the UK as they will have to go to proprietary technology

 

Despite the overwhelmingly negative response to these changes, it’s not all doom and gloom. Heliguy is in a great position to adapt alongside these new regulations by supporting our customers with the guidance, equipment and training they need.

Our in-house technical team are capable of ensuring aircraft are up to code and will be able to make any necessary changes, not to mention our highly experienced training staff who offer up industry leading courses which set pilots up on their first steps towards commercial SUA operation.

As a growing company with an extensive understanding of the ecosystem we inhabit, we have the ability to effectively preempt or, at the very least, stay up to date with all of the latest trends and changes to SUA legislature.

We will continue to monitor the EASA guidelines as they develop and will provide updates with any information that affects our customers and trainees.

Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider blog for more information regarding the ever-changing regulatory landscape and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

Full post available at – https://www.heliguy.com/blog/2016/10/12/our-take-on-the-new-easa-regulations/