The coming weeks will be interesting for drone owners, operators, and pilots. On January 1, 2021, the new EU drone regulation will come into force. It is intended to ensure uniformity throughout the EU.

The entry into force of the new EU UAV regulation brings uncertainty in many areas. No area in unmanned aviation will remain unaffected. We spoke with Ronald Liebsch from DJI. He tells us what is in store for us and how DJI is adapting to the changes.

Ronald Liebsch
Ronald LiebschTechnical Standards Manager Europe at DJI GmbH

Are the changes as drastic as it seems?

If you look at the current rules in Germany, the same risk-based principles generally apply, e.g. with regard to the distinction between flights with and without a permit requirement, as with the new uniform EU rules. But if you look at the EU today, there is a large regulatory “patchwork carpet”. Each member state has its own rules on how drones may be operated. What therefore changes from a European perspective is that the entire EU plus Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland will be flying under the same rules from 01.01.2021, which of course represents an enormous change in the overall context. From the user’s point of view, the new EU regulations and the use of CE classes on drones will make it clearer what is and is not permitted in the respective class and this in a uniform manner throughout the EU.

If I already own a drone, will I still be allowed to fly it next year?

Generally speaking, you are always on the right track with drones from DJI, as our products are state-of-the-art and, in view of the new EU regulations, are also technically capable of complying with these rules. From the manufacturer’s point of view, there is currently no possibility to provide drones with the new CE classes, as the corresponding standards are still in the finalization phase and there is currently no accredited notifying body in Europe to prove conformity with the EU regulations. However, this should not prevent anyone from buying a new drone until then or from using already purchased drones under the new EU regulations from 01.01.2021 in the so-called “limited” open class.

There will initially be a transitional regulation until December 31, 2022, in which all drones (up to 25 kg) will be allowed to fly without CE classification and will also benefit from the new uniform EU rules, albeit with some gradations. During this transitional period, drones up to 500g take-off weight can be flown in category A1. Drones up to 2 kg can be operated in category A2 and all other drones up to 25 kg in A3. Even after this transitional period (from 2023), the continued operation of drones without CE classification is not endangered and is still possible for drones under 250g in A1 and all other drones up to 25 kg in A3. As soon as the path towards CE classification of the individual products has been clearly defined for drone manufacturers, DJI will work at full speed to implement these new CE classes and inform which DJI models will be assigned a CE class.

New rules must first be understood: What is the CE-Marking all about? What should I know about it? What is the difference between CE-Marking and Class Identification?

The CE marking has been accompanying us in Europe for quite some time now, every day when we use all kinds of products, from computer mice to smartphones, and of course to drones. As a manufacturer for the European market, DJI is obliged to ensure that all products comply with the current EU CE (Consumer Electronics) directives. The EU drone regulations with the new CE classes valid from 2021 are just one more component of this system. Every DJI product currently on the European market has a Declaration of Conformity and a CE mark. The CE Classes are an additional “marking” of the drone, for which use is permitted in the open class. To be able to operate drones in the open class according to the new EU regulations, these products must be provided with the CE classes (C0 to C4) and depending on the CE class, there are certain application possibilities and obligations (e.g. license) in the 3 categories A1, A2, and A3.

We thank Mr. Liebsch for the interview and wish him all the best for the next year.

Your FlyNex Team



Here you will find more blog articles on the topic of the EU drone regulation

Part 1 “The UAV classes”

Part 2 “The operating categories”


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