The new EU rules that apply from 31 December 2020 allow each Member State to choose to continue its current national rules for the operation of model aircraft without any major changes. To do so, the national authorities of each EU Member State need to define and (from 1 January 2023) provide an authorisation for “activities in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations”. Any activities that fall outside this “framework” (from 31 December 2020) or are not covered by the authorisation (from 1 January 2023) automatically fall under the EU-wide rules for unmanned aircraft activities in the “open category”. For many countries these “open category rules”, which include age limits, training requirements and a height limit of 120m, are stricter than rules that currently apply to the operation of model aircraft.
Central for answering the question what rules apply to model aircraft operations in an EU country from 31 December 2020 is thus the definition of “in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations”. What activities fall within this “framework” is for each Member State to decide. Some Member States only include members of national associations. Others also include visiting pilots. Some Member States may also apply a broader definition, for instance including pilots that agree to comply with national rules for the operation of model aircraft.
To find out whether you will be flying “in the framework of” or under the “open category” you should check with the rules of the Member State where you intend to fly (see also our section on Implementation in EMFU member countries and on visiting pilots).