New EU-wide rules for unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft)

On 11 June 2019 the European Union published its new legislation on the certification and operation of unmanned aircraft. The timetable for the application and entry into force of the new rules is as follows:

  • Entry into force (relevant for the duty of Member States to start implementation) was on 1 July 2019;
  • Application will be from 1 July 2020 (relevant for the restrictions of the “open category” as well as the duty to register);
  • The exemption for activities in the framework of clubs and associations will end on 1 July 2022.

The new rules, which also cover the operation of model aircraft, are now being implemented in the EU Member States (as well as non-EU countries that will apply these rules, such as Norway and Switzerland). The new rules allow each EU Member State to choose to continue its current national rules for the operation of model aircraft without any major changes by providing a national authorisation for activities in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations. The EU rules thus allow current national rules for aeromodelling to continue to apply, but that choice needs to be made at the national level by the authorities of each EU Member State. Without such national authorisation, pilots will fly under the EU-wide rules for unmanned aircraft under the “open category” from 1 July 2022 onwards.

The new rules

Until 2019 all activities with aircraft lighter than 150kg were under the regulatory competence of the EU Member States. This changed with the adoption of the new Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of 4 July 2018 on common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (commonly referred to as the “Basic Regulation”), which brought all aircraft, regardless of weight, into EU competence. The Basic Regulation provides a mandate to the European Commission to adopt legislation in relation to the operation of unmanned aircraft, as well as requirements for their production and certification. These rules were published on 11 June. The links below provide access to the EU Official Journal, with the text of the new legislation in all EU languages:

On 10 October 2019  EASA finally also published its Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance materials (GM) for the Regulation on UAS operations in the open and specific category. These provide a series of tools to assist national authorities with the implementation of the new legislation.

A summary of the various rules and their implications can be found here.

Implementation in EU Member States, Switzerland and Norway

The EMFU has, together with a number of national associations, been actively involved in helping to accommodate the concerns of model aircraft pilots in the new EU legislation, and many of our proposals were incorporated in the final text of the legislation. The EMFU is now assisting national associations with the implementation and application of the new EU rules within each Member State. The links below provide an overview of the state of play of implementation for a number of countries. The information is provided by the EMFU member associations of each country. Questions or discussions on the new EU legislation and its implementation are welcome in the EMFU Discussion forum on the new EU legislation.

Links to information on the implementation of the new EU legislation in EASA member countries: