Differentiation of the operating categories of drones
As regards the operation of UAS (UAS = Unmanned Aircraft Systems) or drones, as they are called in everyday language, three categories are currently distinguished on the basis of the applicable EU Regulation (EU) 2019/947 (German only):
- Open category
- Specific category
- Certified category
Drone operations are classified in the open category, if the drone
- weighs less than 25 kg,
- is not operated over assemblies of people, where ‘assemblies of people’ means gatherings where persons are unable to move away due to the density of the people present,
- is operated at a maximum of 120 m above ground level (AGL),
- is operated in visual line of sight (VLOS) at all times and
- does not carry persons or dangerous goods.
Drone operations in the open category do not require approval and, depending on the specific type of flight planned, are divided into the sub-categories A1, A2 and A3.
Drone operations are classified in the specific category, if the drone
- weighs more than 25 kg,
- is operated at an above ground level (AGL) of more than 120 m or in specific airspaces or
- is operated beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS).
Drone operations are classified in the certified category if the drone is subject to approval and
- is operated over assemblies of people,
- dangerous goods are carried or
- persons are carried.
Drones are divided into drone categories based on the maximum take-off mass and the technical equipment. These categories allow quick conclusions to be drawn as to the classification into a corresponding sub-category. The categories C0 to C6 have been defined for this classification.
The first C-classified drone was certified in August 2022.
The following chart also provides an overview of the requirements of the ‘open’ category and can help with the categorization of drone operations (Source German only).