Operations UAS/Drones — Open Category (Subcategories A1, A2 and A3)

    The ‘open’ operational category covers all operations with UAS that are of low operational risk, as marked by European regulations and do not require any operational authorisation or a declaration by the UAS operator prior to flight.

    UAS operators, who reside if they are natural persons or have their place of business if they are legal persons in Spain, must register electronically via the AESA website as of 31 December 2020, when:

    • Use in the ‘open’ category any unmanned aircraft:
      • With an MTOM of 250 g or more, or which, in the event of a collision, is capable of transferring to a human a kinetic energy greater than 80 joules;
      • equipped with a sensor capable of capturing personal data, unless it complies with Directive 2009/48/EC (“Toys Directive”).
    • Use an unmanned aircraft of any mass in the ‘specific’ category.

    To register as an operator you can access through the AESA website from 31/12/2020 (UAS Operator Registration section)

    Note: A UAS operator is any natural or legal person who uses or intends to use one or more UASs for both professional and recreational purposes.

Availability of compulsory liability insurance


    Following the amendment of the Air Navigation Act, and until the entry into force of the Royal Decree of UAS1 supplementing the legal regime for the civil use of unmanned aircraft systems, it will be necessary to have an insurance policy covering civil liability against third parties for damages that may arise during and because of the execution of each flight that takes place (both recreational and professional purposes) in accordance with Articles 11 and 127 of the Air Navigation Act:

    • UAS with a MTOM equal to or greater than 20 kg for business purposes must comply with Regulation 785/2004, and;
    • Professional UAS with MTOM equal to or less than 20 kg and those for recreational purposes must comply with Royal Decree 37/2001 of 19 January 2001 updating the amount of damages provided for in the Air Navigation Act.

    Regulation 785/2004 establishes a minimum amount for damage to third parties on land of 750,000 SDRs -Special Drawing Rights- (for drones up to 500 kg) while Royal Decree 37/2001 the minimum amount to be covered is 220,000 SDRs.

    Adequate insurance shall be available to cover each flight carried out, and there is no need to contract a policy on a permanent basis.

    1Draft UAS Royal Decree currently under consideration which in its draft submitted to public consultation will exempt class C0 UAS and unmarked class UASs with a maximum take-off mass of less than 250 g operated in subcategory A1 from the mandatory insurance requirement.

Minimum documentation required to carry out operations with UAS in ‘open’ category


    Any operator intending to carry out operations in ‘open’ category shall have the following documentation:

    • Certificate of registration or proof of UAS operator registration (link to registration section). The operator registration number should be indicated for all UAS operated in such a way that it can be read with the naked eye when the drone is tracked. The registration number may be indicated in the battery compartment if the size of the UA does not allow it to be displayed on the outside or if it is a replica aircraft model of an actual aircraft and indicate the operator registration number in the fuselage could affect the realism of the representation.
    • Pilots of the operator must be certified as remote pilot A1/A3 (and A2 as appropriate). More information in the section Training of UAS/dron pilots in ‘open’ category
    • Liability insurance policy as indicated in the previous point.
    • Where the operator has more than one remote pilot, it shall have procedures in place to coordinate activities among its employees and establish and maintain a list of personnel and assigned tasks.

     

UAS/drons without class marking


    The special provisions concerning the use of certain UAS in ‘open’ category are set out in Article 20 of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947. UAS which are not privately manufactured and comply with the Directive on the placing on the market of products currently applicable in the European Union (Decision 768/2008/EC), but do not belong to one of Classes C0, C1, C2, C3 or C4 laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945, may continue to be used if they have been placed on the European Union market before 1 January 2024 as follows:

    • If the maximum take-off mass of the unmanned aircraft is less than 250 g, including payload, operation in subcategory A1.
    • If the maximum take-off mass of the unmanned aircraft is less than 25 kg, including fuel and payload, operation in subcategory A3.

Transitional ‘open’ category UAS does not comply with Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945


    UAS to be operated in ‘open’ category and not in Class C0, C1, C2, C3 or C4 laid down in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945, may continue to be used until 31 December 2023 under the following conditions, as set out in Article 22:

    if the take-off mass of the unmanned aircraft is less than 500 g, operation in subcategory A1, by a remote pilot who is recommended to be familiar with the manufacturer’s user manual or, in the absence thereof, equivalent document developed by the UAS operator itself;

    if the take-off mass of the unmanned aircraft is less than 2 kg, and is operated at a minimum horizontal distance of 50 m from persons, by remote pilots with a level of competence at least equivalent to that corresponding to sub-category A2, it is considered acceptable to hold a basic or advanced certificate according to Law 18/2014 or Royal Decree 1036/2017 and to make a declaration of practical self-training; y

    C) If the take-off mass of the unmanned aircraft is less than 25 kg, and the operation is carried out in subcategory A3, by remote pilots with a level of competence at least equivalent to that corresponding to subcategories A1 and A3, it is considered acceptable to be in possession of a basic or advanced certificate according to Law 18/2014 or Royal Decree 1036/2017.

UAS operations in ‘open’ category complying with Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945


    For operations with UAS in ‘open’ category, the following requirements as required by Article 4 of Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947 must be met:

    • The UAS belongs to one of the classes set out in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945, is privately constructed or meets the conditions defined in point “UAS/drones without class marking”.
    • MTOM < 25 kg;
    • maintain a safe horizontal distance from people and do not exceed concentrations of persons;
    • keep the UAS in visual range (VLOS) of the pilot remotely at all times, with the exception of flying in follow-on mode or when there is an unmanned aircraft observed;
    • maximum flight height limit from the take-off point of 120 m.
    • during the flight the UAS will not drop items or transport dangerous goods.

    In turn, the ‘open’ category is divided into 3 subcategories: A1, A2 and A3.

    Subcategory A1

    Operations in subcategory A1 are carried out by avoiding overflight of non-participants and concentrations of persons. UAS suitable to fly within this subcategory must have any of the following characteristics:

    • Be of private construction with a MTOM &LT;250 g and maximum speed of less than 19 m/s.
    • Have a MTOM &LT;250 g, without class marking and have been placed on the market before 1 January 2024, with the requirements set out in point “UAS/drons without class marking”.
    • Carry Class C0 marking label and therefore comply with the following technical requirements:
      • MTOM < 250 g;
      • maximum horizontal flight speed of 19 m/s;
      • power supply.
    • Carry Class C1 marking label and therefore comply with the following technical requirements:
      • MTOM < 900 g or energy transmitted in case of impact < 80 J;
      • maximum horizontal flight speed of 19 m/s;
      • electric power supply;
      • unique serial number;
      • network and direct remote identification system;
      • geo-consciousness system;
      • low battery warning system for unmanned aircraft and control station (CS).

    Subcategory A2

    Operations in subcategory A2 are carried out with a horizontal safety distance of at least 30 m from persons not participating in the operation.

    Operations in subcategory A2 shall only be performed with UAS bearing the Class C2 marking label, i.e. having the following characteristics:

    • MTOM < 4 kg;
    • except if it is a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft, be equipped with a selectable low speed mode limiting the speed to a maximum of 3 m/s;
      • electric power supply;
      • unique serial number;
      • network and direct remote identification system;
      • geo-consciousness system;
      • low battery warning system for unmanned aircraft and control station (CS);
      • be equipped with a data link protected against unauthorised access to command and control functions (C2);
    • equip lights for attitude control and night flight.

     

    Subcategory A3

    Operations in subcategory A3 are carried out in areas where no non-participant is put at risk and at a minimum horizontal safety distance of 150 m from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

    Operations in subcategory A3 are performed with those UASs that meet any of the following requirements:

    • Be of private construction with a MTOM < 25 kg.
    • No class marking and have been placed on the market before 1 January 2024, with the requirements set out in point “UAS/drons without class marking”.
    • Carry class C2 marking label.
    • Carry a Class C3 marking label and therefore comply with the following technical requirements:
      • MTOM < 25 kg and a maximum dimension of less than 3 m;
      • electric power supply;
      • unique serial number;
      • network and direct remote identification system;
      • geo-consciousness system;
      • low battery warning system for unmanned aircraft and control station (CS);
      • be equipped with a data link protected against unauthorised access to command and control functions (C2);
      • equip lights for attitude control and night flight.
    • Carry C4 marking label and therefore meet the following technical requirements:
      • MTOM < 25 kg;
      • be controllable and manoeuvrable safely by a remote pilot following the manufacturer’s instructions;
    • do not have automatic control modes, except for assistance with the stabilisation of the flight without any direct effect on the trajectory and for assistance in the event of loss of the link, provided that a predetermined fixed position of the flight controls is available in the event of loss of the link;
    • be intended for the practice of model aeroplanes.

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