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New EU regulation governing the use of drones

News | 22.08.19

EU/EEA and Competition Law
Aviation
On 11 June 2019, the European Union published common rules on the use of drones (the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947), aiming to help protect the safety and privacy of EU citizens while at the same time enabling the free circulation of drones and a level playing field within the European Union.

The rules will replace the existing national rules in the EU member states once they formally become effective 1 July 2020. In Norway, the rules will be gradually included in the existing national legislation, with the government aiming for the rules to be fully implemented by the time they become effective in the EU.

One of the new requirements under the regulation is an obligation on all operators to register with the national aviation authorities, save for operators of drones typically used as toys – i.e. drones under 250 grams and/or without sensors that record sound or take pictures. The new rules also impose detailed technical requirements on manufacturers and distributors, such as an obligation for new drones to be individually identifiable, allowing the authorities to trace a particular drone if required.

The regulation prescribes three categories of drone operation, identified as "open", "specific" and "certified". The division between these categories is determined by the type of drone, as well as the character of the operation, and each category will be subject to its own set of regulations.

The Norwegian CAA has advised that implementation of the new rules will not involve any restrictions on the types of drone activities and operations currently accepted in Norway. On the contrary, they have advised that the rules concerning safety distance requirements in certain circumstances will be more flexible than under the existing regime. Stricter requirements relating to registration, documentation and competence will, however, be imposed on all parties involved with drone activity under the new rules.