New drone regulations became law in the UK and across Europe on January 1st 2021. Previous to that, there was a patchwork quilt of regulations from country to country across Europe. Some countries were fairly relaxed with little regulation and others with strict laws making it very difficult to fly a drone there.
These new regulations should open up a lot of possibilities and make it easier for those wanting to fly their drones, to do so legally and also provide the authorities with clarity about what to allow and what activities pose a threat.
The new regulations are based on the perceived potential threat that the flight poses. In broad strokes, the new rules mean that flight will be assessed on the weight of the drone, the place where you want to fly your drone and the level of qualifications that you hold.
They have summarised the categories in this chart.
The aim is that the UK regulations will be aligned with Europe. This means that the UK Pfco qualification will be phased out over the next 2 years and will not be recognised in Europe.
The new regulations mean that any drones over 2kg will need to be kept over 150M from uninvolved people. Under 2KG drones and this distance is reduced to 50M. If you want more freedom to be able to fly closer to people and buildings then you will want to consider obtaining the Europe-wide qualification of either the A2 CofC or the GVC qualification. The original plans was that the UK A2 CofC and GVC qualifications would give you permission to fly in Europe, but as yet, that reciprocal agreement has not been set up due to Brexit. So as it stands, you need to get a European qualification to be able to fly in Europe in the A2 category.
As ever, safety is paramount and the location where you intend to fly your drone is key. There are some great resources that will provide you with an international overview like airmap (https://www.airmap.com) and DJI’s international map (https://www.dji.com/uk/flysafe/geo-map). It is important though to check an up to date aviation map from the relevant local aviation authority to ensure that you have the latest info. In the same way that you need to learn the rules of the road before driving a car on the roads, you need to ensure that you have learn the rules of the air before your drone takes to the air.
So whether for recreational or commercial purposes everyone needs to :
Register your drone online and display your registration number on your drone.
Register yourself and take the online learning course and test.
Take out insurance to specifically cover you for flying a drone.
There are some fabulous locations around Europe where it is now possible to fly a drone, but always ensure that you are complying with the regulations.