EU Drone Regulations: a Risk-Based Approach

EU drone regulations define three categories of operations: ‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified.’  Within the three broad categories are subdivisions.

Lowest Risk: “The ‘open’ category addresses operations in the lower risk bracket, where safety is ensured provided the drone operator complies with the relevant requirements for its intended operation. This category is subdivided into three further subcategories called A1, A2 and A3. Operational risks in the ‘open’ category are considered low, and therefore no authorisation is required before starting a flight,” says EASA.

Advanced Operations: “The ‘specific’ category covers riskier operations, where safety is ensured by the drone operator obtaining an operational authorisation from the national competent authority before starting the operation. To obtain the authorisation, the drone operator is required to conduct a safety risk assessment, which will determine the requirements necessary for safe operation of the drone(s).”

“In the ‘certified’ category, the safety risk is so high that certification of the drone operator and the aircraft is required to ensure safety, as well as the licensing of the remote pilot(s).”


Categories have specific training requirements.  In addition, drone operators must register their drone in the European country in which they live or have their main place of business. Drone operators will receive a unique registration number which will be valid in all other EASA member States. Drone insurance is also required.

The following is a list of useful links for European drone operators:

Easy Access Rules for Drone Operators

European National Aviation Authorities

EASA: Frequently Asked Questions

EASA has issued this short video for new drone owners.


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