On 1 July 2020, the European Commission introduced new European rules for drones. As a result, the national rules expired on 31 December 2020. In the European legislation, there's no distinction between hobby and professional drone pilots. These rules divide drone pilots into 3 categories, open, specific, and certified. We'll explain what this means for you below.
For more information about the new drone regulations that are in effect across the EU visit European Aviation Space Agency (EASA)
Three Drone Categories
Open, Specific, and Certified are the three categories, which correspond to Low, Medium, and High risk drone flights, respectively. Each category has its own set of guidelines, limitations, rules, and preflight procedures to follow. Generally speaking, the Open category is for recreational drone flights, Specific is for expert drone flights, and Certified is for the largest drone firms that may eventually use drones to deliver people and cargo.
Open Drone Category
Prior approvals or a pilot's license are not necessary for operations in the open category. However, they are only permitted to be used for activities in visual line of sight (VLOS), at altitudes below 120 meters, and when using privately made drones or drones that meet the technical specifications outlined in the rule. Drones that can be operated in the open category will have a class identification mark on them to show that they are in compliance. Each class of drone is subject to additional operational limitations. For more info please visit EASA
Specific Drone Category
The operator should think about operating under the "specific" category (medium risk) if the anticipated activity surpasses the limitations of the "open" category. Only high-risk operations fall under the "certified" category and are subject to traditional aviation regulations (such as flying in controlled airspace). Operations involving drones weighing more than 25 kg or being flown outside of a person's line of sight are usually classified as "specific" operations. For more info please visit EASA
Certified Drone Category
Operations utilising large drones in regulated airspace fall under the "certified" category (high risk). The same regulations that apply to manned aviation will also apply to the "certified" category: pilots must have a license, drones must be certified as being airworthy, and the relevant National Aviation Authorities and EASA will be in charge of overseeing safety. For more info please visit EASA