European Union drone laws after June 2020

Starting from June 2020, unified European Union drone laws will become a reality. European published two regulations 2019/945 and 2019/947 that describe the unified rules that all member countries will have to implement before June 2020. Some say that drone hobby is dead in EU and corporations are winning. I took a few hours of my life and I've read both documents and here is a short summary.

Drone registration

No, there will be no drone registration forced by the EU itself. Only a very specific class of drones (UAS they are called in official nomenclature) operating in "Certified" operations category will have to be registered and certified by local authorities. All hobby drones and airplanes operate in "Open" and "Specific" category and do not have to register

Pilot registration, course, and test

On the other hand, pilots that want to fly drones heavier than 250g (commercial or self-made DIY style) will have to register, take an online course and pass an online test to receive a certificate. From the documents we know that:

  • the test will have 40 multiple choice questions
  • questions will be distributed between the following subject: air safety, airspace restrictions, aviation regulation, human performance limitations, operational procedures, UAS general knowledge, privacy and data protection, insurance, security
  • certified pilot will receive a unique identifier
  • pilots who want to operate in Open.A2 class will have to:
    pass an additional test of 30 multiple answer question in following subject: meteorology, UAS flight performance, technical and operational mitigations for ground risk
    perform a self-practical straining under the rules of Open.A3 that will include the following scenarios: weather conditions, the performance of the unmanned aircraft, segregation of the overflown area
  • no extra tests will be required for operations in category Open.A1 and Open.A3

Commercial UAS

Commercial drones and unmanned airplanes (sold in the European Union) will be categorized into the following categories:

  • C0 – sub 250g class limited to 120m altitude (relative to take-off point), 24DC voltage and 19m/s level flight speed
  • C1 – sub 900g class limited to 120m altitude (relative to take-off point), 24DC voltage and 19m/s level flight speed. It has to have battery monitoring and a transponder transmitting its serial number, pilot ID and additional flight parameters. On top of that, it has to meet noise level limits and have to have a space awareness system
  • C2 – sub 4kg class limited to 120m altitude (relative to take-off point), 24DC voltage. It has to have battery monitoring and a transponder transmitting its serial number, pilot ID and additional flight parameters. On top of that, it has to meet noise level limits and have to have a space awareness system and position lights
  • C3 – sub 25kg class limited to 120m altitude (relative to take-off point), 24DC voltage and longer dimension cannot be more than 3m. It has to have battery monitoring and a transponder transmitting its serial number, pilot ID and additional flight parameters. On top of that, it has to meet noise level limits and have to have position lights. It has to have a failsafe system that will safely land it in case of lost signal. It can be capable of autonomous flight.
  • C4 – sub 25kg class, it can not do an autonomous flight.

Privately built drones and airplanes

DIY, self-made, privately built drones and airplanes that are intended to be used by the builder does not have to be classified like commercial ones. There is no voltage, electric only, altitude or transponder requirements like in classes C0-C4. DIY (so including hobby) drones and airplanes are allowed to operate in Open.A1 is they weight below 250g or Open.A3 is weight above 250g.

This means, if you built your own RC model, you can still fly it, do not have to register or actually meet any regulations that commercial drones have to meet even if your own model seems to be close to any of them.

Important: assembling a ready-to-use kit does not count as DIY! Ready to use kits have to be categorized as C0-C4 by manufacturer/seller/distributor.

Categories of operations

There are 3 main categories of operations (flights):

  • Open – can be VLOS only and is limited to 120m of relative altitude. Open flight does not have to be registered and can be performed by C0-C4 classes and DIY models
  • Specific – can be BVLOS (FPV) but needs permission from authorities or LUC certificate. A flying club can share its LUC certificate with its members
  • Certified – reserved for dangerous operations: flying over people, transporting people, transporting dangerous materials. Needs an agreement from authorities and certified UAS

A Open category where most hobby flights will be performed is divided into:

  • Open.A1 UAS.OPEN.020 – it is not allowed to fly over crowds, allowed to fly over a single uninvolved person, VLOS. Reserved for UAS classes C0, C1, and DIY below 250g
  • Open.A2 UAS.OPEN.030 – at least 30m distance (that can be lowered to 5m in special cases) from uninvolved persons. Reserved for C2 UAS class
  • Open.A3 UAS.OPEN.040 – not flying over uninvolved people at all, "be conducted in an area where the remote pilot reasonably expects that no uninvolved person will be endangered within the range where the unmanned aircraft is flown during the entire time of the UAS operation". All flight with UAS from classes C2, C3, C4 and above 250g DIY build have to be in A2 category

Current commercial drones after June 2020

All current commercial drone available on the market (DJI Spark, Mavic Air, Mavic Pro, Phantom, and another ready-made) that are not classified as C0-C4, will be allowed to fly after June 2020 on the same regulations as DIY build.

  • All current commercial drones below 250g will be limited to Open A1
  • All current commercial drones above 250g will be limited to Open A3

New regulations versus FPV

Unfortunately, the new EU drone regulations do not allow for FPV flights. Not even sub 250g is allowed FPV under Open category flights. FPV is possible only in Specific flight category and it requires permission from authorities or a LUC certificate. We have to wait for national, member countries, regulations to know the details.

There is a hope tho. In the second half of 2019, there will additional talks about two new Open flight classes:

  • Urban VLOS – that will allow flying over crowds that consists of involved and participating people
  • Rural BVLOS – Operations in sparsely populated areas using visual observers and below 120m

Rural BVLOS looks like the most interesting proposal. All my flights are performed in sparsely populated areas!

NEW European Union Drone Laws – a complete guide for 2020 changes

European Union is regulating drone and RC airplanes law and starting from June 2020 all member countries will have to align its laws to meet EASA regulations 2019/945 and 2019/947. According to them:

  • drone pilots will have to register and pass an online test
  • commercial drones will be classified into classes: C0, C1, C2, C3, and C4
  • DIY homemade drones and airplanes are allowed
  • Operational classes: Open, Specific and Certified
  • rules for DJI drones
  • Open A1, Open A2, and Open A3
  • Transponders, position lights, failsafe, MTOW and speeds

Low Pass Filter Experiments

All flight controllers we use in RC hobby (FlightOne, Betaflight, INAV, Pixhawk, dRonin, and all the other) use low pass filters. What does a low pass filter do? It passes low-frequency components of a signal (below cutoff frequency) but attenuates high-frequency signal components (above the cutoff frequency).

Since it's hard to make a visualization of this process with a software LPF filter, let's make an analog equivalent using a resistor and capacitor and connect all of that to signal generator and oscilloscope.

Jumper T16 Review – better than FrSky?

Jumper T16 RC transmitter messed around in the RC hobby in the last few weeks. FrSky wants to ban it since according to them it’s a clone of FrSky X10 (bullshit by the way). The question is: is Jumper T16 a good radio transmitter worth the money and what’s more important, is it a real competition for FrSky Q X7, X9D Taranis and X10. The answer is quite simple: Jumper T16 is a good radio but everything else is a little complicated. Let’s do the review then!

Impedance Matching 101

Why do we match the impendance? And what the heck the impedance really is? 50Ohm, 75Ohm, low impedance, high impedance, reflections and all that crap that normal people usually ignore. Nobody said that we are “normal” over here so let’s take a look at this whole input/output impedance matching business.

AKK FX2-Dominator 2W 5.8GHz video transmitter – hands-on and power test

How about a 2W, yes 2000mW, video transmitter you can fit on a mini quad? Today let’s take a look at AKK FX2 Dominator 2W 5.8GHz that, according to specs, delivers an incredible amount of RF power. And, of course, let’s to a power test of it.

AKK FX2 Dominator:

Diatone Mamba F405 and F40 4in1 ESC Power Tower Review

Are you looking for a good, cheap, entry-level, flight controller and 4in1 ESC? Mamba F405 and F40 ESC is an option. With a price tag of around $42-$45, it’s one of the cheapest stacks on the market and after a few months of using it, I can say that it’s also a decent combo. Not perfect, but decent enough to satisfy the need of most beginner and intermediate FPV pilots.

INAV 2.2 – what’s news, what changed, the most important features

INAV 2.2 is almost ready. The list of changes is long, those are the most important ones

  • STM32F7 optimizations. F7 flight controllers are now as fast as F4
  • Better airmode handling for multirotors
  • Betaflight D_min equivalent called D-Boost
  • Iterm Relax
  • Smart Audio 2.1
  • New Mission Planner
  • Continue mission on failsafe
  • waypoints in CLI
  • stick arming removed
  • DSHOT compatibility fixes
  • Blackbox servo logging
  • Emergency arming
  • G force in OSD
  • OpFlow and Surface mode improvements
  • Virtual airspeed (pitot) sensor

Thrust vectoring on a flying wing

If modern fighter jets can have thrust vectoring, maybe RC flying wings also can get one? I’ve decided to test this theory and equip my very old DIY Depron flying wing with a motor tilting mechanism that allows changing the vector of an RC brushless motor and propeller and vector the thrust. My goals were:

  • check if it works at all
  • check if thrust vectoring would improve the flight
  • check if pitch control can be done only with thrust vectoring
  • check if yaw control can be done this way