New rules for drone flying in Iceland and rest of Europe

New rules on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) have been implemented within the EU member states. Unlike the current Icelandic regulation (990/2017) where only drones used for commercial purposes need to be registered, drone operators will have to register according to the new regulations and certain requirements will be made for the training of remote pilots.

The Icelandic Transport Authority has adopted part of this new EASA regulation, i.e. registration of remote pilots and exams in the so-called open category, but the vast majority of drone pilots belong to that category, whether they fly for fun or in a limited commercial capacity. In order to obtain a certificate of competency for flying in the open category, an examination in subcategory A1/A3 must be taken. That test is taken online and is free of charge. It is also possible to obtain a certificate of competency to fly in subcategory A2. An examination fee must be paid for the examination in subcategory A2, but it is taken at the premises of the Icelandic Transport Authority or with entities that have been approved by the Authority. Later, there will be exams in the specific category, where many of those who fly drones commercially belong.

Information about the two categories:

 

Open category

The open category contains low-risk operations with drones weighing less than 25 kg.

In the open category, these common rules apply:

 

  • The drone must weigh less than 25 kg
  • The pilot must maintain a visual line of sight (VLOS) with the drone
  • The drone must always fly within 120 meters from the closest point of the earth
  • No flying over assemblies of people
  • No carriage of dangerous goods
  • No dropping of items
  • The drone must be marked with the operator's registration number

The open category is divided into three subcategories: A1, A2 and A3. These are the main differences:

A1- Fly light drones with few distance restrictions to uninvolved persons.
A2 - Fly drones in built-up areas with a minimum of 50 meters from uninvolved persons. (30 meters with a C2-class drone).
A3 - Fly drones up to 25 kg, minimum 150 meters from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

Registration and competency requirements

In order to fly in the open category, all pilots must be registered on the Icelandic Transport Authority's registration website (excluding pilots of C0 class drones without camera equipment). In order to fly drones which weigh more than 250 gr. pilots must read the learning material and pass the A1/A3 exam on the registration website. After passing the exam pilots can fly drones up to 900 gr in subcategory A1 and up to 25 kg in subcategory A3. In subcategory A2 it is allowed to fly very close to people and therefore it is considered the riskiest subcategory in the open category. There are more requirements for pilot competency in the A2 subcategory and pilots must pass a special A2 exam which is held at the Icelandic Transport Authority or other approved organization.

Drones-table1 (click on the table to get it in full size)

Maximum altitude

Maximum altitude must be 120 m from the nearest point of the earth. It is also possible to fly even higher if you fly within 15 meters from an artificial object and have the owner's approval.

Drone-maximum-altitude

Night flying

It is allowed to fly at night, as long as you can see the drone (VLOS). In order to do that, some lights on the drone will be necessary. It is mandatory to have a green flashing light on the drone when flying at nighttime.

Operation manual requirement

If you are one person that acts both as operator and pilot, no operation manual (OM) is required.
If you are an operator with several pilots, it is minimum required that you:

  • Have procedures for the operations.
  • Have a list of all personnel with responsibilities.

Specific category

If the drone weighs 25 kg or more, or the flight operation does not fit within the open category it is possible to apply for a permit to fly in the specific category.

In order to fly in the specific category you need an operational authorization from the Icelandic Transport Authority. There are three different methods to get an operational authorization:

  • STS, Standard Scenarios
  • PDRA, Pre-defined risk assessment
  • SORA, Specific Operations Risk Assessment

STS, Standard Scenarios

The standard scenario (STS) is the simplest way to conduct a flight which requires an approval. Each STS defines a specific scenario and the associated conditions which must be fulfilled in order to be able to fly a drone under that scenario. This is a relatively simple approval process because the risk analysis (based on the SORA methodology) is already included in the STS.

Drones-table_2 (click on the table to get full size)

Information on STSs can be found in Appendix 1 to EU regulation 2019/947.

PDRA, Pre-defined risk assessment

EASA has also created predefined risk assessments to simplify the application process for operators intending to fly in the specific category and operations may fall under the PDRA.

Drones-table_3

SORA, Specific Operations Risk Assessment

If the planned flight does not fall into the open category and neither STS nor PDRA can be used to apply for an operational authorization, a risk assessment based on the SORA methodology must be submitted. SORA was developed by JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems) to facilitate risk assessments by applicants and aviation authorities by creating a harmonized approach for drone flights. AMC1 to Article 11 of EU Regulation 2019/947 contains instructions on the preparation of SORA. Basically, SORA is based on 10 steps that an applicant must go through.

 

  1. Make a concept of operations document (ConOps). A ConOps describes the UAS and the operations to be flown.
  2. Decide intrinsic Ground Risk Class (GRC). This is a classification of the risk that the drone will hit a person on the ground. It is indicated with a number from one to seven.
  3. Decide final GRC after risk reducing measures have been taken. Measures can for example be buffer zones, parachute, and if an emergency response plan (ERP) are in place.
  4. Decide initial Air Risk Class (ARC). This is a classification of the risk to hit another aircraft. The risk is classified with a letter ranging from A to D.
  5. Decide residual ARC. This can be done if the actual traffic in the airspace is lower than what the initial ARC classification implies. It can also be done through using common rules and structures as mitigating measures. These may be e.g. limiting the flight to a specific area or time of day, or using equipment which makes the drone more visible to other aircraft or ATC.
  6. Decide residual ARC. This can be done if the actual traffic in the airspace is lower than what the initial ARC classification implies. It can also be done through using common rules and structures as mitigating measures. These may be e.g. limiting the flight to a specific area or time of day, or using equipment which makes the drone more visible to other aircraft or ATC.
  7. Decide residual ARC. This can be done if the actual traffic in the airspace is lower than what the initial ARC classification implies. It can also be done through using common rules and structures as mitigating measures. These may be e.g. limiting the flight to a specific area or time of day, or using equipment which makes the drone more visible to other aircraft or ATC.
  8. Make sure that Tactical Mitigations Performance Requirements (TMPR) are satisfied. These requirements are measures to mitigate the risk of in air collisions. The requirements are derived from the ARC.
  9. Make sure that Tactical Mitigations Performance Requirements (TMPR) are satisfied. These requirements are measures to mitigate the risk of in air collisions. The requirements are derived from the ARC.
  10. Identify Operational Safety Objectives (OSOs). These are derived from the SAIL value and defines requirements for technical systems, training and procedures. OSOs are 24 in total and the SAIL value indicates to what extend the OSOs must be fulfilled.
  11. Adjacent areas and airspace. This step is about considering the risk for nearby areas and airspace, in case of a fly-away. Requirements can be found in the AMC from EASA.
  12. Create a safety portofolio that describes:

- How risk is reduced for GRC and ARC.
- How TMPR is satisfied.
- How the OSOs are satisfied.

More information regarding the SORA process can be found in Easy Access Rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Regulations (EU) 2019/947 and (EU) 2019/945) .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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