For the time being, it will not yet be possible to become active in the Specific category on the basis of one of the two European standard scenarios for drone flights within visibility over populated areas or flights outside visibility over sparsely populated areas. The European Commission has postponed the introduction of both standard scenarios by two years because there are currently no drones with a C5 or C6 label available.
Possibility to declare European standard scenarios postponed by 2 years
Those who want to become active in the Specific category have a number of options. The most accessible way is to work according to so-called European standard scenarios, based on predefined risk analyzes and operational procedures. To date, EASA has published two such EU-wide standard scenarios: one for drone flights within the pilot’s line of sight over populated areas (STS 01) and one for BVLOS drone flights over sparsely populated areas (STS 02).
However, the problem is that these European standard scenarios are based on a number of technical standards for drones, which have not yet been established. In this case, it concerns the standards for drones with a C5 or C6 label. Manufacturers cannot yet market drones with such a label, simply because conformity assessments cannot yet be carried out.
This has now led to the European Commission publishing an amendment to the Implementing Regulation 2019/947. Initially, it was intended that the Member States could start processing applications for drone operations to become active according to the European standard scenarios on 2 December 2021. That date has been postponed by two years, to December 3, 2023.
To prevent drone operators from getting stuck as a result, Member States may also consider nationally prepared standard scenarios for two years longer. These will be valid until 2 December 2025 at the latest. In theory, this means that until that date drones without a C5 or C6 label can continue to fly in the Specific category, as long as the national scenarios meet the requirements as laid down in the appendix. of Regulation 2019/947.
The question now is what this will mean for new operators in the Specific category, and more importantly, for existing drone operators who still work under the old national regulations. After all, there are no national standard scenarios available on a European model, let alone that there is any prospect of a transition for ROC holders. This means that for the time being it is only possible to submit permit applications based on SORAs that they have drawn up themselves, which entails considerable additional costs, time, and paperwork.
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