Webinar Recap: Drone Regulation and Key Topics for 2023

Hendrik Boedecker
February 10, 2023
8 min. read
NOTE: If you are interested in seeing and downloading the presentation slides from the webinar, you can find them here.

Introduction on Drone Regulation in 2023

Drone regulations are structured so that binding aviation law, non-binding aviation law and technical standards interact with one another and form a layered regulatory infrastructure for the drone industry. Binding aviation laws have been developed since the 2000s when the topic of civil rules for drone operation was first addressed by the ICAO in 2005. Starting in 2012, National Aviation authorities started to define the first frameworks of drone regulations (USA, South Africa, Australia). Since then, the rules have been in a constant process of improvement.

From very hard, to too soft, to the modern risk-based rules, drone regulation continues to evolve. As described in our blog, three phases currently impact drone operations: 1) basic rules, 2) advanced flight rules and 3) the introduction of system requirements.

Basic flight rules are common in most of the countries where drones are allowed to be operated. Advanced flight rules include e.g. risk assessment and operation manual requirements. A common procedure here is the SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) process which was initially defined by the JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems) organization. This standard is widely accepted and has been integrated into national legislation (EU, Australia) or is planned to be (China, Indonesia, or Malaysia). Finally, system requirements are requirements for the hardware or software of a drone or flight-associated system (such as a UTM system). These drone regulation requirements are genuinely new. While operational responsibility was initially borne solely by the operator, safety-related systems requirements are now to be implemented already during the manufacturing and design stage.

It is worth noting that without certification of system requirements, there will never be an urban operation to transport cargo. The following example shows how quickly the rules for drone regulation have changed: Before 2019, out-of-sight flights (BVLOS) were only feasible with special permission in very few countries (e.g. France) as a rule. Today, swarm flights out of sight or regular flights in controlled airspace can be performed with minimal lead time. The current focus is on the definition of system requirements and the associated means of compliance, but also the implementation of these by manufacturers and operators.

The focus of system requirements in 2023 will be on remote identification and drone certification. In the US operators need to be compliant with the Remote ID rule by December 16th, 2023. In Europe, the EU member states need to have available an Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system since January 26th, 2023 (compliance with U-space rule (EU) 2021/664) and UAS class certification by December 31st, 2023 (Compliance with (EU) 2019/947 and (EU) 2019/945).

webinar recap drone regulations 2023

Originally published: February 2023

Setting up a UTM system

Guest section by Pawel Korzec, CEO of DroneRadar

Compliance with drone regulation (EU) 2021/664 means that member states must have identified U-space airspace areas where drones will be able to fly advanced drone operations. These operations will be supported by certified USS service providers. In areas where unmanned traffic will be expected to be integrated with manned aviation, USSPs will coordinate drone operations with the Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). To facilitate communication, all the operational data used by/between USPs, ANSPs and drone operators will be managed by the Common Information Service Provider (CISP).

 

Setting up a UTM: the Case of Poland

The idea behind UTM implementation in Poland was trivial but probably not obvious. As General Aviation pilots, we wanted to protect ourselves from unaware and irresponsible drone operators (in 2015, they weren’t called pilots yet). To achieve this, we created an easy-to-understand mobile application called Droneradar, which eventually turned out to be the basis of the UTM system. As pilots, we are aware how complex the airspace is and how much we need to rapidly learn to understand both drone regulations and airspace structure. Therefore, we set ourselves a task in which we decided to aggregate all possible sources of aeronautical information, such as: AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication), AIP supplements, NOTAM (Notice to Airmen), AUP (Airspace Use Plan) and UUP(Updated Airspace Use Plan). Having this data, we wrote an algorithm that interpreted the meaning of drone regulations using a simple, three-color indicator, informing about the possibility of making a flight at a given place and time, using a drone with a certain weight and parameters. The military and civilian ANSP liked this so much that they allowed us to develop software for their TWR and FIS workplaces.

From the very beginning, we have been building awareness for drone users in social media. We knew that the drone regulations themselves are so difficult that the chance that a person who is not interested in aviation will understand them is very little. Then, we concluded that we must test our applications with children before implementation. As bizarre as it sounds, it turned out that children are the best testers.

Despite the fact that many companies with a global reach appeared on the UTM market, we were the only ones who managed to create a system in Poland that was recognized by ANSP, Military ANSP and CAA. From the beginning, we believed in the completeness and integrity of data. We knew there were no shortcuts. We were aware that any misinterpretation or omission of data could have legal or tragic consequences.

From the very beginning, we also knew that communication between air traffic services and UAS pilots would be a challenge. We had to exclude the possibility of communication on aviation frequencies (due to the fact that these frequencies in controlled airspaces are already full, because there is no radio coverage near the ground and finally, there is no aviation phraseology for drone pilots). The phone call connection was also to be ruled out. Ultimately, internet was the only option left. In this way, we created and implemented concept of two-way, non-verbal communication, called CDDLC (Controller Drone Data Link Communication) by analogy with the CPDLC known from manned aviation. Today, CDDLC provides two-way communication where the controller is always informed about whether its message (order) has been delivered, read and executed.

 

Using an UTM system: What is possible now in Poland?

Droneradar was a co-author and principal co-developer of the PansaUTM system. Having the Droneradar application integrated with the PansaUTM system (accredited for operational use) provides most of the U1 to U3 services. Among them, the following should be mentioned in particular:

  1. Information about the possibility of performing the flight at a given place and time
  2. Two-way non-verbal communication between civil and military air traffic services and UAS pilot
  3. Dynamic airspace reconfiguration
  4. Possibility to submit an Operational Flight Plan, where it is required (e.g. at CTR, at selected times). The Droneradar application informs when and where Operational Flight Plan submission is required.
  5. Possibility of automatic flight acceptance at the strategic and tactical level
  6. Air Traffic Services have the ability to decide on the capacity of selected airspace elements (segments)
  7. Possibility of strategic integration with various stakeholders such as LAU (Local Administration Units) – the flight plan will be accepted after all stakeholders have approved it
  8. Definition of Priority Users 112
  9. Definition of Frequent Flyer operators, for whom an automatic permission for Take Off is issued after meeting certain conditions
  1. Integration of all possible aeronautical information

… and many, many others.

Finally, although we provide a great and free tool for communication, it turns out that, the weakest and most unpredictable component of the entire U-space is the human being. In other words, perhaps the one thing that will make or break a UTM system and its successful implementation is the individuals who interact with it. Therefore I encourage you to go through our presentation from the webinar and contact me (pawel.korzec@droneradar.eu) in case of any questions, doubts, suggestions, or just looking for more information.

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UAS Class Certification

Guest Section by Marc Beltran, CEO of EU Drone Port

Why do we need a UAS Class Identification Label?

At EU Drone Port we have learned that the implementation of the EU Class Identification Label serves a crucial purpose in drone regulation and operation of drones. The label is a verification mechanism designed to confirm that drones within a specific class meet the rigorous standards set by the European Union for design and manufacturing. These standards are necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of drones in various industries and applications.

By providing this assurance to customers, the EU Class Identification Label helps to increase confidence in drone technology and encourages wider adoption across industries. This, in turn, contributes to the growth and development of the drone industry and supports the integration of drones into society.

Moreover, the label is essential in ensuring the safe and responsible use of drones. It provides a clear indication of the capabilities and limitations of drones, enabling customers to make informed decisions when choosing a drone for their specific needs. The label also ensures that drones are not operated beyond their intended use, minimizing the potential risk to public safety and property.

In conclusion, the EU Class Identification Label is a crucial aspect of the drone industry, playing a vital role in ensuring the safety, reliability, and responsible use of drones in various industries and applications. It is an essential tool for promoting confidence in the technology and encouraging its wider adoption.

 

In which cases do we need Class Identification Label Certification?

Certification is not a universal requirement for all unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The following are three scenarios outlining the options available and the consequences of each choice.

  1. For UAS that have been commercially available prior to January 1st, 2024:
    1. Certification: Obtaining a Class Identification Label prior to the deadline will allow for operation within any scenario permitted by the designated Drone Class.
    2. Non-Certification: the lack of certification prior to the deadline will restrict operation to the A1 category (for UAS weighing less than 250 g) or the A3 category (for UAS weighing more than 250 g) or operations under Operational Authorisation.
  2. For UAS that have not been commercially available prior to January 1st, 2024:
    1. Certification: In this scenario, certification is mandatory in order to commercialise the UAS within the European Union.
  3. For privately-built UAS:
    1. Certification: Obtaining a Class Identification Label prior to the deadline will allow for operation within any scenario permitted by the designated Drone Class.
    2. Non-Certification: The lack certification prior to the deadline will restrict operation to the A1 category (for UAS weighing less than 250 g) or the A3 category (for UAS weighing more than 250 g) or operations under Operational Authorisation.”

 

Class Identification Label Certification Roadmap

The following are the standard procedures for obtaining EU-Type examination certification, starting from the initiation of an agreement with a Notified Body.

  • DAY 1: Submit Essential UAS Data for Pre-analysis: This includes the User’s Manual, Datasheet, and Maintenance Manual.
  • DAY 5: Notified Body Evaluation of Documents: The Notified Body will review the submitted materials and determine the certification viability. If approved, a testing plan will be developed.
  • DAY 50: Testing Completion and Certification Decision: Upon completion of the tests, a certification decision will be made.
  • DAY 55: Issuance of EU-Type Examination Certification: In case of conformity of all the tests, the final step will be the official issuance of the EU-Type examination certification.

 

Type of tests included in the Class Identification Label Certification:

Each class certification requires different tests. However, these are some of the most representative among the different classes:

  • MTOM
  • Maximum Speed
  • Maximum attainable Height
  • Safely controllable
  • Minimize injury to people
  • Power
  • Follow-me mode
  • User’s manual
  • Information notice
  • Loss of data link
  • Sound power
  • Unique physical serial number
  • Direct Remote Identification
  • Geo awareness
  • Airspace limitation function
  • C2 link protection

 

Conclusion: Certification is Key in Drone Regulation

The EU Class Identification Label is a verification mechanism for drones in the European Union. It confirms that drones meet the rigorous standards set by EU drone regulation for design and manufacturing. The label is essential for promoting confidence in drone technology, ensuring its safe and responsible use, and encouraging wider adoption across industries.

Certification is mandatory for all the future UAS models, and highly recommended for the existing ones.

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