The forthcoming European rules aims to bring together the regulations of the member countries and to standardise the civil use of drones. Therefore, the next common regulatory framework will cover all possible operational scenarios and be tailored to the current requirements. The Royal Decree 1036/2017 will cease to apply progressively in 2023, which regulates the current civil use of remotely piloted aircraft in Spain. The new European legislation for unmanned aircrafts systems came into force last June and was to be implemented from July 2020. Regarding the COVID-19, the European Commission have postponed it for six months and the new regulation will apply on January 1, 2021.

The new framework will apply alike to recreational and professional flights by covering the technical features of the aircraft, pilot training requirements or the registration of user and operator. It will be taken into account parameters as weight, specification and operation of the drone. The EU regulation 2019/947 is adapted to most types of operations and their level of risk. There exist three categories of operations: Open, Specific and Certified category.  

  • The Open category addresses operations in the lower risk bracket, where safety is ensured by the drone operator complying with relevant requirements for its intended operation. This category is subdivided into three further subcategories called A1, A2 and A3. Operational risks under the “Open” category are considered so low that no authorisation is required before starting the flight.

  • 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 the drone (s) safe operation.

  • The Certified category where safety risk is so high that safety is ensured through the certification of the drone operator and the aircraft as well as the licensing of the remote pilot(s).

According to EU Regulation 2019/947 and EU regulation 2019/945, a drone can be operated in the Open category when it:

  • bears one of the CE class marks 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4;or

  • is privately built and with a weight less than 25kg; or

  • it is purchased before the 1st of January 2023, with no CE class marking as above;

  • will be operated not directly over people, unless it bears a CE class mark or is lighter than 250g. (Please refer to subcategories of operations: A1, A2 and A3 to find out where you can fly with your drone).

  • will be maintained in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) or be assisted by a UA observer;

  • is flown at no more than 120 metres high;

  • will not carry dangerous goods and not drop any material.

In all other cases it must be operated in the Specific or Certified category.  Check this link of The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for more detailed information and find out here the Frequently Asked Questions area about the Open (including subcategories of operations: A1, A2 and A3) and Specific category. 

From December 31st, 2020 begins the progressive implementation of the EU Regulation 2019/947 and the identification of operators and certified unmanned aircrafts systems will be mandatory. Operations in the specific category may be carried out by the authorisation of the national agency. From January 2022, the Spanish rules ceases to be in force but also the deadline for operators and certification of pilots to be transferred within the new common standard. On January 1, 2023, only CE-marked systems are commercialise, and those still operating with non-CE marked drones, must fully comply with EU regulations.