From 1 January 2024, EU rules require unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operating with operational declarations under the specific category and all UAS with class marks operating in the open category are required to use an active and up-to-date remote identification system. Model aircraft are however generally exempted from this requirement. The below explains in more detail why this is the case.
The remote identification requirement under EU law
Article 2(1)(a) of Regulation 2019/945 introduces a remote ID requirement for all “UAS intended to be operated under the rules and conditions applicable to the “open” category of UAS operations or to operational declarations under the “specific” category of UAS operations pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2019/947, except privately built UAS […]”. Article 22 of Regulation 2019/947 sets the date for the entry into force of this requirement on 1 January 2024.
Two elements of this requirement are particularly important for model aircraft operations:
- it only applies to operations under the “open” category or to operational declarations under the “specific” category;
- it does not apply to “privately built UAS”.
As to point 1):
The vast majority of model aircraft operations in countries that apply the EU rules take place under a so-called “Article 16 Authorisation“, an authorisation provided by the national authorities for operations of model aircraft in the framework of model aircraft clubs and associations. The scope of these authorisations differs between Member States. To check whether a model aircraft operation is covered by this authorisation the pilot will need to check the requirements of these national authorisations. If not covered by the Article 16 Authorisation, flights are most likely to take place under the “open category”, unless the pilot is ready to invest in the operational declaration required for specific category flights. Important to note is however that even model aircraft operating under the “open category” are unlikely to require remote identification, as these are usually “privately built” (see next point).
As to point 2):
The remote identification requirement only applies to commercially produced (now usually certified) unmanned aircraft. It does not apply to “privately built UAS”.
Article 2(16) of Regulation 2019/947 defines “privately built UAS” as “‘a UAS assembled or manufactured for the builder’s own use, not including UAS assembled from sets of parts placed on the market as a single ready-to-assemble kit“.
The interpretation of the EMFU is that only model aircraft that are available in a single kit that includes all elements for their operation (i.e. airframe with electronics, as well as transmitter and batteries) requires certification and is thus subject to the remote identification requirement if operated under the open category. More information on our interpretation of what is “privately built” can be found here.