Today we are expanding our blog series on the changes resulting from the new EU drone regulation.
For the third part of the series, we will deal with the knowledge certificates and qualifications that pilots will have to acquire in order to fly drones in the future.
Here you can find the two previous articles, part 1 on the topic “UAV-Classes” and part 2 on the topic “Operation Categories”.
The EU Certificate of Knowledge
Category “OPEN” for A1 and A3
As already explained in part 2, a distinction will be made between different operating categories. If the drone’s take-off weight exceeds 250 g, a certificate of knowledge will be required. For drone pilots, the first thing to do is to complete an online training course. In the future, the examination will be conducted by a competent authority or a certified body. Certified bodies, e.g. model flight clubs or drone schools, will be recognized by the competent authority of the Member State in which the UAS operator is registered.
What does the online training consist of?
The exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions on the topics:
- Flight Safety
- Airspace Restrictions
- Aviation Law
- Human Performance and its Limits
- Operating Procedures
- General Knowledge of UAS
- Aviation Security
The EU Certificate of Remote Pilot Competency
Category OPEN A2
The EU Certificate of Remote Pilot Competency, or “the big EU drone license”, is based on the online training. It must be completed in order to obtain the EU Certificate of Remote Pilot Competency.
A practical flight training must be done. The training has to be conducted in an area where, according to the pilot’s reasonable judgment, no uninvolved persons can be endangered. The area must also maintain a minimum horizontal distance of at least 150 m from residential, commercial, industrial, or recreational areas. The practical flight training can be completed by a simple written declaration.
In addition, the pilot has to undergo a theoretical knowledge examination with at least 30 multiple-choice questions. The topics of the examination include:
- UAS flight performance,
- technical and operational reduction of risks on the ground.
The EU Certificate of Remote Pilot Competency is also valid for 5 years.
Light UAS Operator Certificate
LUC stands for “Light unmanned aircraft operator certificate”. This extended operating permit enables a drone operator to approve his own operations. Of course, this only applies within the scope of what is permitted in the respective LUC.
The LUC certificate can ONLY be applied for by legal entities. The application for a LUC or for a modification of an existing LUC must be submitted to the competent authority and must contain all the following information:
- a description of the UAS operators management system, including his organizational structure and safety management system
- the names of the responsible personnel of the UAS operator, including the names of the persons responsible for authorizing the UAS operation
- a statement that all the dossiers submitted to the competent authority have been examined by the applicant and found to comply with the relevant requirements
For flights in the SPECIFIC operating category, either an operating permit or a prior declaration is required. Those who hold a LUC certificate do not need a declaration and do not have to obtain an operating permit. The LUC holder has the right, within the terms of the permit, to authorize his own operations. Furthermore, an LUC remains valid for an unlimited period of time.
What happens to the national drone license?
There is a transitional period until 31.12.2021. Until then, it is possible to have your old “big drone license” converted into an EU Certificate of Knowledge for A1 and A3.
- licenses issued to UAS operators, certificates of competence of remote pilots and declarations of UAS operators or equivalent documents issued on the basis of national regulations remain valid until July 1st, 2021
- By the 1st of July 2021, Member States shall convert their existing certificates of competence for remote pilots and their UAS operators’ licenses or declarations or equivalent documents.
- Model flying clubs and associations may continue UAS operations in accordance with national law without a permit until July 1st, 2022.
Still Many Uncertainties
The article was written with the information that is currently available. There is still a lack of clear guidelines and answers in the EU drone regulation. Also, the expiration of the examinations is not yet finally specified. It has not yet been clarified which bodies may test drone pilots in the future, or how current training institutions receive certification and what they must do in order to be able to conduct future tests. At present, there is a lack of concrete specifications from the German Federal Aviation Authority.
However, new information is expected in the coming weeks, which we will then also share with you.
In the next blog article, we will deal with the topic of registrations and give you an overview of the timeline so that you don’t lose track!
Your FlyNex Team
This article is part of a series about innovations and changes due to the EU drone regulation. Among other things, we will explain how the new operating categories are divided, which requirements drones and pilots must meet on which deadlines, and what changes are taking place in the airspace for unmanned aircraft. We welcome feedback, additions, and suggestions in order to provide all readers with understandable and up-to-date information.
Further blog articles on the EU UAV regulation: