Dronemaker DJI says it is investigating whether it is possible to provide drones with a Cx CE label retroactively. Such a label will be mandatory in Europe after January 1, 2023, to fly in Open subcategories A1 and A2. As part of the procedure, customers would have to take their drone to a DJI service center to either have their drone upgraded or a self-performed upgrade checked.
DJI investigates the option to assign Cx CE labels retroactively
New product requirements
As part of European drone regulations, stricter product requirements will be imposed on drones sold after January 1, 2023. These requirements are guaranteed through a new Cx product label, which will form part of the well-known CE certificate. Consider, for example, provisions regarding geofencing, remote identification, noise production, and the operation of the return to home function.
The label should make it easier to determine in which Open subcategory you end up. Drones with a C0 or C1 label may be used in Open subcategory A1. Drones with a C2 label can be used in A2, and drones with a C3 or C4 label are for A3. Finally, there will also be drones with a C5 or C6 label. These are for use in the Specific category.
All drones currently on the market do not yet have a Cx label. That means they are classified as “legacy drones.” A transitional arrangement has been created for this. This means that, depending on the weight, you can continue to fly in Open subcategory A1, A2 or A3 until December 31, 2022. After that date, you can only fly with these legacy drones in Open subcategory A3, 150 meters away from people, buildings, roads, and port and industrial areas. (An exception applies only for legacy drones under 250 grams such as the DJI Mavic Mini and Mini 2: they may continue to be used in Open subcategory A1.)
It is unknown at this point what technical requirements will apply to the various Cx CE labels. As a result, drone manufacturers such as DJI cannot yet comply with the new rules. It could well be that existing drones will comply with the new product requirements as soon as they are announced by the European aviation safety organization EASA. Still, the Cx CE labels may not be subsequently awarded to drones already sold.
Nevertheless, there may be a possibility to provide existing drones with the new Cx CE label. DJI says on its website it is investigating the possibility of making drones suitable for the new Cx CE labels through firmware and/or hardware upgrades. Customers would have to visit a DJI service center for this because, formally, the product must be re-marketed.
It is also conceivable that customers will perform the upgrade themselves in some instances. In that case, one must still visit an institution authorized by EASA, which will check whether the upgrade has been performed correctly and then assign the relevant label.
Eligible drones and costs
Unfortunately, it is not yet known which DJI drones will be eligible for the upgrade process. This is because drones’ technical requirements with a Cx CE label have not yet been worked out. As soon as EASA or. the European Commission provides more clarity about the new product requirements, DJI will publish a list of drones eligible for the upgrade process on its website.
There is a chance that the Cx CE upgrade process will only be available for DJI’s business drones from the DJI Enterprise series. Think of the Mavic 2 Enterprise, the Phantom 4 RTK, and the Matrice 300. It is still unclear whether the upgrade process will also be offered to users of recreational drones, such as the “normal” Mavic series.
It is also unclear whether there will be costs associated with the upgrade process and, if so, how high they will be.
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