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Information note on the European regulation regarding unmanned aircraft

IMPORTANT: This note if for information purposes only. It summarizes the future European regulation on unmanned aircraft. For information on the currently applicable rules, please refer to this website.

The discussed European regulations on unmanned aircraft will be directly applicable in all Member States as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland starting 31 December 2020.
The following information refer to the newest available version of the European regulations. The regulations however might change. The Direction de l’Aviation Civile will do its utmost to keep the information on its website up to date.

Direction de l’Aviation Civile

The Direction de l’Aviation Civile (DAC) is the competent authority for aviation safety and security. Therefore, the DAC is the competent authority for the national implementation of the European regulation on the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft.
UAS operations might lead to questions concerning the protection of data and privacy as well as to noise issues. The Commission nationale pour la protection des données (CNPD) is the competent authority for data protection and privacy issues whereas the municipalities and the Administration de l’environnement deal with issues related to noise.

Definition of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS)

An unmanned aircraft system (UAS) means an unmanned aircraft and the equipment to control it remotely. This includes today’s drones and model aircraft. As the European regulation uses the term “UAS”, the same will apply in the present note.

General information

Currently, every Member State regulates UAS on national level (for the present system applicable in Luxembourg, please refer to the following website). Therefore, if an UAS operator wants to operate in another Member State, he/she has to comply with the rules of that Member State.
In order to enhance, harmonize and facilitate UAS activities in Europe, the European Commission has published two regulations on unmanned aircraft operations:

  • Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 of 12 March 2019 on unmanned aircraft systems and on third-country operators of unmanned aircraft systems. This regulation addresses mostly technical aspects of the UAS and the conformity measures for the European market. It applies mostly to manufacturers of UAS and will not be further discussed.
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 of 24 May 2019 on the rules and procedures for the operation of unmanned aircraft. This regulation addresses the operational aspects of the UAS operations and is summarized in the following paragraphs.

Please note that the regulation 2019/947 is not applicable to UAS operations, which take place inside a building (a house, a warehouse etc.).
An UAS operator or a remote pilot who fulfills the requirements of the regulation 2019/947 will under certain conditions have the possibility to operate not only in his country of registration but also in all other Member states provided that he fulfils certain requirements (like registering the UAS, following an online training course etc.).

New European regulatory structure of the regulation 2019/947

The European regulation 2019/947 establishes 3 categories of UAS operations according to a risk level criterion:

  • The “OPEN” category for low risk level operations
  • The “SPECIFIC” category for operations with a higher risk
  • The “CERTIFIED” category for operations with a high risk
Please note that the European regulation only distinguishes between operations according to the risk level criteria of the operation and not according its objective (commercial or private). The new regulation also focuses on the safety of persons of the ground.
No authorization from the DAC will be required for flights in the OPEN category. It will be the operators’ responsibility to comply with the requirements of the regulations and the Police will control the respect of the generally applicable rules.
Authorizations from the DAC will be required for operations in the SPECIFIC and CERTIFIED categories.
An insurance covering UAS operations will be required for all categories.

Every category of UAS operations sets different conditions :

OPEN Category :

  • Minimum age of the remote pilot: 16 years or operation under direct supervision of a remote pilot who fulfills the applicable requirements
  • Registration of the UAS operator (exceptions might apply)
  • Passing an online theoretical training and examination (training and examination online for sub-category A1 and A3; classroom examination for sub-category A2)
  • Always keeping the UAS in visual line of sight (the “first person view” and the “follow me mode” can under certain conditions be considered as being in visual line of sight)
  • Maximum height of the operation: 120m
  • Operating at a safe distance from people according to the applicable sub-category A1 (no overfly of assemblies of people and expectation that no uninvolved persons will be overflown), A2 (no overfly of uninvolved persons and operations at a safe horizontal distance of at least 30m from them) or A3 (no endangering of uninvolved people within the range of the UAS operation)
  • UAS of a maximum takeoff weight of less than 25kg and marked accordingly to the applicable requirements
  • No carriage of dangerous goods and no dropping of any material

SPECIFIC Category :

If one of the requirements of the OPEN category is not met, the SPECIFIC category becomes applicable. The additional following conditions must be fulfilled in the:

  • Minimum age of the remote pilot: 16 years
  • Mandatory registration of the UAS operator
  • Specific operations risk assessment (“SORA”) performed by the UAS operator before applying for authorization to the DAC

The CERTIFIED category applies when :

  • An assembly of people is overflown with an UAS with a dimension of more than 3m
  • When the operation involves the transport of people or the carriage of dangerous goods that may result in high risk for third parties in case of accident
  • When the risk of the operation cannot be adequately mitigated under the SPECIFIC category

The detailed rules concerning the CERTIFIED category are still under development on the EU level.

Geographical zones for UAS

Together with other administrations, the DAC is elaborating geographical zones in which restrictions or additional requirements will be imposed for UAS operations (i.e additional flight authorization, limitation of maximum weight of the UAS, limitation of the UAS flight height etc.).
There will also be zones where UAS will not be allowed to operate freely, i.e. the proximity of aerodromes or heliports.
The geographical zones and the applicable restrictions/additional requirements will be published before 31st of December 2020.
Remote pilots and UAS operators will have to check the geographical zones and respect the respective additional conditions at all times.

Transition period

The current system of generic and specific authorizations as well as the conditions imposed by these authorizations will remain applicable until 30 December 2020. After this date, the DAC will not be in the position to issue generic or specific authorizations.
A transition period until the end of 2022 will be assured for certain dispositions.
DAC will soon communicate on the transition towards the new regulation as well as on the dates applicable.
Given the important amount of requests, the website of the DAC shall be the primary source of information. Please keep yourself updated by visiting our website on regular occasions.

Additional information

EASA has recently published “Easy rules for UAS”. It is a document summarizing all applicable rules and procedures as defined for UAS operations by regulation 2019/947 (as the respective guidelines) as well as the technical requirements defined by regulation 2019/945. However, this document may not include all the latest amendments to the regulation. You will find all of the European regulations on the internet page of the eur-lex (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/homepage.html).

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