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Legislation governing the operation of drones

The following text is primarily based on European legislation, which uses the more formal designation Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) for drones. Czech legislation has adopted this designation.

The legislative definition regarding UAS is based on the currently valid regulatory framework of the European Union, ensuring harmonised rules for the operation of UAS across all Member States. This framework is applicable from 31 December 2020. The inclusion of the new European rules in the national regulations of individual member states represents an indisputable advantage for the operation of drones. It is gradual, graduated in time. A number of rules contain so-called transitional provisions which allow member states and stakeholders sufficient time to adapt their procedures to the new regulatory framework over a specified period.

EUROPEAN LEGISLATION

Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council


It defines the main competences of the European Union (EU) Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as mandated by the European Commission. The core content is set out for the drone sector in Articles 55-68 and in Annex IX and defines both the main requirements for the design, manufacture, maintenance and operation of drones and the conditions for persons involved in their operation (including remote pilots) and organisations involved in activities related to their design, manufacture, maintenance or operation. The Regulation also imposes an obligation to register all UASs as well as their operators, who are subject to certification.

Validity and effect of the Regulation from 11 September 2018

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945

The intention of this Regulation is to specify the characteristics and capabilities of UAS belonging into all three categories of operation, as defined by Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, in order to enhance operational safety. The main areas addressed in this case include the definition of technical requirements for UAS and for additional equipment for remote identification accessories; defining the rules for third country UAS operators; publishing the rules for the delivery of UAS to operate in the open category together with the rules for remote ancillary equipment available on the EU market. The concept of UAS class, is newly mentioned here, which is related to the open category of their operation. The different classes of UAS and their requirements are based precisely on the way they are operated, which is assessed on the basis of the level of risk.

Validity and effectiveness of the Regulation from 1 July 2019

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947

In addition to supplementing information on the registration of UAS operators (obligations and conditions of registration) and certified UA, this implementing Regulation allows EU Member States to regulate the operation of UAS by publishing a geographical zone for UAS in which the operation of UAS may be prohibited/limited according to the required entry conditions. The Implementing Regulation also introduces a completely new categorisation of UAS operations (open, specific, certified). UAS are divided into these categories and, in the case of the open category, also into sub-categories of operation based on several factors, including, for example, the need to submit an UAS operational authorisation and UAS certificate as well as a UAS operator's certificate; the granting of a remote pilot licence for UAS; maximum take-off weight, maximum flight height from the nearest point of the ground surface, type of transported goods. The Regulation describes the rules for the operation of model aircraft, especially in relation to model aircraft clubs and associations. A completely new concept in the Appendices of this Implementing Regulation in the case of UAS operation in a specific category is the so-called standard scenario. This is a predefined operation procedure which facilitates the entry conditions for the UAS operator belonging into a specific category of operation to carry out his flight. In the event that the UAS operator intends to fly a UAS in this category of operation, i.e. in a specific category, there are several ways for him to obtain an operational authorisation to operate for this category of UAS. These methods include a request from the UAS operator for:

  1. authorisation to operate through a risk assessment of the intended operation (SORA method);
  2. authorisation to operate through a pre-defined risk assessment (PDRA);
  3. Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC).

Validity and effectiveness of the Implementing Regulation from 1 July 2019

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639

The Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) has been created to amend Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. The main additional content is 2 specific standard scenarios (STS). Standard Scenario 1 addresses operation in visual line of sight (VLOS) of the remote pilot at a maximum operating height of 120 m above the controlled ground surface in a populated environment. Operation in Standard Scenario 2 takes place outside the visual visual line of sight of the UAS remote pilot (BVLOS), which moves away from him at a maximum of 2 km. The operation is conditioned by the presence of observers and the maximum flight height of the UAS, which is 120 m above the controlled ground area in a sparsely populated environment.

One of the important additions, apart from the information on standard scenarios, in this Implementing Regulation is a measure to improve the visibility of UA operating at night so that a person on the ground can distinguish it from a manned aircraft by means of a green flashing light.

Validity and effectiveness of the Implementing Regulation from 2 June 2020

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/746

The Regulation was published due to the amendment of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 in order to postpone the date of applicability of certain measures in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to delays in the establishment of digital and interoperable registration systems, modification of authorisations, declarations and certificates, this Regulation allowed all types of UAS to continue to operate under the then existing conditions for an additional 6 months.

Validity and effectiveness of the Implementing Regulation from 6 June 2020

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/1058

Amending Regulation which supplemented the UAS classes defined in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945. The Regulation introduces two new classes of UAS, Class C5 and C6, for which it defines both the requirements for UAS belonging to these classes and the requirements for accessories for classes C5 and C6. These are UAS classes for which EASA has published two standard scenarios, Standard Scenario 1 for the operation of UAS belonging to Class C5 and Standard Scenario 2 for the operation of UAS belonging to Class C6 (see Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/639).

Validity and effectiveness of the Regulation from 9 August 2020

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/665, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/666

A trio of flagship implementing regulations relating to the regulatory framework for U-space, defined as "a geographical zone for unmanned systems defined by Member States where the operation of unmanned systems is only permitted with the support of U-space services". Their main content is set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664, which defines the requirements for the establishment of a U-space airspace, a common information service providers, a UAS operators, a U-space service providers and the requirements for both mandatory and supplementary U-space services themselves.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/665 defines the necessary requirements for air traffic services providers (e.g. ATC of the Czech Republic) within the designated U-space airspace in controlled airspace.

The rules for the establishment of U-space in uncontrolled airspace, the content of which concerns not only UAS but also general air traffic, are set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/666. The only mentioned solution that will increase situational awareness in such an airspace. U-space, and therefore safety, is the electronic visibility of manned aircraft so that measures can be taken to avoid a collision.

Applicability of the Implementing Regulations from 13 May 2021 Effectiveness of the Implementing Regulations from 26 January 2023



Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1166

Regulation postponing the date of application of some of the provisions contained in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947, specifically Article 23, which introduces the entry into force and applicability of the Regulation. For operations that comply with one of the two standard scenarios set out in the European Regulation, only the declaration of UAS operators (in accordance with Article 5(5) of that Implementing Regulation) may be issued instead of an application for an operational authorisation, as from 1 January 2024.

Validity and effectiveness of the Implementing Regulation from 5 August 2021

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/425

Due to the persistent absence of some of the harmonised standards governing the requirements for UAS Classes C0 to C6, which are necessary for open category operations or for operations under standard scenarios, this Implementing Regulation extends the dates set for the use of such defined operations or standard scenarios, see Articles 20 and 22 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. There is a need for standards to be in place before such operations are assessed by Member States.

Validity and effectiveness of the Implementing Regulation from 4 April 2022

Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) for Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664

This is the first set of AMCs/GMs issued for the regulatory framework for the implementation of U-space (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/665, Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/666), which has been developed taking into account the latest developments of the industry and stakeholders in this environment, i.e. the U-space environment, to reflect the state-of-the-art U-space concepts, systems and technologies. The document aims to increase the level of safety of joint UAS and manned aviation operations and service provision in U-space, and at the same time to support the harmonization of rules within the individual member states. Key topics focusing on the solution of the U-space airspace concept, its implementation across Member States from the point of view of responsibility and risk management, on the solution of the concept of dynamic airspace reconfiguration in the case of U-space, the operation, functioning and certification of the Common Information Service (CIS) and the services provided by the U-space Service Provider (USSP) etc.

NATIONAL LEGISLATION

Act No. 49/1997 Coll., Civil Aviation Act

The backbone legislative document to which all civil use of airspace and aircraft operations are subject to the defined rules of the air (§ 44). In the Czech Republic, the aviation regulations of the Ministry of Transport (Decree No. 108/1997 Coll.) are considered to be flying rules. Amendments are currently being discussed in the Chamber of Deputies and will be published in the form of an amendment to the Act after approval.

On 1 January 2023, the Act of 1 December 2022 amending Act No. 49/1997 Coll., on Civil Aviation and amending and supplementing Act No. 455/1991 Coll., on Trade Enterprise (Trade Licensing Act), as amended, and other related acts came into force. A new and crucial issue in the case of this amendment is the fact that it amends the Civil Aviation Act in relation to the conditions for the operation and control of unmanned systems in such a way that it is already linked to directly applicable European Union regulations in this field of aviation, such as:

  • Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency

  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 of 12 March 2019 on unmanned systems and third country operators of unmanned systems, as amended

  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 of 24 May 2019 on rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft, as amended

  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/664 of 22 April 2021 on the regulatory framework for U-space
  • The Amendment Act also repeals § 52 of Act No. 49/1997 Coll., which referred to the possibility of carrying out flights without a pilot on board on the basis of a permit issued by the CAA. However, this paragraph is replaced by a number of provisions, which are mostly listed in Part Five (Use of the Czech Republic's airspace and air services) and Part Nine (State administration and offences in civil aviation).

    Effectiveness from 1 January

    Aviation regulation L2, Rules of the Air - Supplement X

    Supplement X of Aviation regulation L2, Rules of the Air, defines rules that can only be applied after the transition period to entities that are not subject to the operating rules of the harmonised EU legislation. From 1 January 2023, when the amendment to the Civil Aviation Act was issued, Supplement X still applies, but only to aircraft performing military, search operations or border protection.

    Measures of a general nature (LKR10-UAS)

    A measure of general nature (OOP) issued by the Civil Aviation Authority in agreement with the Ministry of Transport establishes the restricted area LKR10 - UAS. This is a geographical zone over the whole of the Czech Republic established in accordance with Article 15 of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. The content of the OOP contains specific rules and requirements for the operation of UAS within the territory of the established restricted area. The document takes into account the requirements of the applicable European Regulations and partly adopts the content of selected rules of Supplement X of the Aviation Regulation L2, Rules of the Air, in particular in relation to the operational rules for flying around airports that are defined through this geographical zone for UAS (vertical boundary: from GND (ground) to FL660, horizontal boundary: state border of the Czech Republic). The rules of operation set out in this OOP apply only to the operation of unmanned aircraft and aircraft with a pilot on board are not affected by this OOP.

    Effectiveness of the OOP from 31 December 2020

    EASA eRules

    EASA eRules is a complex document which by its nature cannot be placed directly within a national regulatory framework. The document is for information purposes only and has no legal value.

    This is a literal translation of the original EASA eRules document issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, the primary purpose of which is to provide easier orientation of the new and relatively complex EU regulatory framework for UAS operations. The translation has been created by merging the officially published European Regulations together with their associated Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) that have been adopted so far. CAA supplements these texts with current events within the framework of UAS operation, which it itself processes so that the document as a whole represents a complete and up-to-date wording of the regulatory framework.

    EASA eRules were last updated on 18 May 2022