The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has published a proposal of airworthiness standards for the certification of the vast majority of light unmanned aircraft. These standards will greatly contribute to the safe operation of drones for a wide variety of services. Examples include parcel delivery in urban environments, railways and power lines inspection, or delivery of essential supplies into crisis zones.

The proposed standards, the Special Condition Light UAS, are now open for public consultation. They will apply to unmanned aircraft under 600 Kg operated in the specific or certified category in accordance with regulation (EU) 2019 / 947, which enters into force on December 31, 2020. Most drones currently under certification in EASA will adopt this certification basis.

In the words of EASA Executive Director, Patrick Ky:

“This proposal forms part of EASA’s wider initiative to ensure drones can be operated safely and acceptably, particularly in areas which are densely occupied by people and moving or static objects.

With large parts of the economy looking at ways to use drones to streamline their operations, it is essential that we have strong rules in place to ensure there is no danger to people or property from drone usage, and that noise levels are acceptable. It is our job to ensure that Europe’s citizens are kept safe as drone use increases”.

Setting the standards

Setting certification standards for drones presents particular challenges. Design concepts vary hugely, technologies develop rapidly, and there is a strong economic pressure to market new products quickly.
Firstly, EASA commits to ensuring safety. However, in order to tackle said challenges, it is taking a flexible approach. Therefore, EASA will define certification requirements which are objective and proportionate to the risk of the operation. An approach well suited for such an innovative product segment.

In a second phase, EASA will address detailed means of compliance. However, due to the expected variety of products and operational concepts, a strong link will remain with projects and EASA will continue to assess proposals from applicants.

EASA expects publishing of the proposal for the future certification basis to stimulate new design and certification initiatives for drones. In addition, it will contribute to the safe integration into populated environments of Beyond Visible Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations.

The proposal is open for comments until September 30, 2020. AW-Drones is following this initiative with great interest, as it is an integral part of our work. Don’t miss this chance to have your say!