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Are all remote pilots required to train to fly a drone?

Yes, in general, you need to have training that is proportionate to the category of drone you are going to operate.

Training is not required only if you are using very light drones:

A. if the drone bears a CE class mark 0, you only must be familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions; or  

B. with privately built drones with a weight less than 250g, you are not required to undergo any training.

However, all other remote pilots must undergo the required training. 

What is covered by the regulations?

These EU Regulations adopt a risk-based approach, and as such, do not distinguish between leisure or commercial activities. They take into account the weight and specifications of the drone and the operation it is intended to undertake.

The Regulations cater for drones sold on the market, meaning:

     1. when operating in the ’open’ category:

  • i.  those that will bear a class identification label (according to Regulation (EU) 2019/945) ranging from 0 to 6 from lighter to heavier models; or

  • ii.  those privately built; or

  • iii. those placed on the market before 1 July 2022.

     2. when operating in the ’specific’ category, all drones falling under this category including those without a  class identification label.

EU Regulation 2019/947 caters for most types of operation and their levels of risk. It does so through three categories of operations: the ‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified’ categories. 

Do I need to register my drone?

Unless they are in the Certified Category, drones do not need to be registered, but you, as drone operator/owner, must register yourself. You do so with the Irish Aviation Authority at 
You register once, independently of how many drones you have operating in the ’open’ or the ’specific’ category. Your registration will be valid for a period of 5 years, after which you need to renew it.
However, you do not need to register yourself if your drone(s):

  1. weighs less than 250g and has no camera or other sensor able to detect personal data; or

  2. even with a camera or other sensor, weighs less than 250g, but is a toy (this means that its documentation shows that it complies with ‘toy’ Directive 2009/48/EC);

Relevant regulation: article 21 of EU regulation 2019/947.

What happens once I register?

Once registered, you receive a ‘drone operator registration number’ that needs to be displayed with a sticker on all the drones you own, including those privately built. You must also, upload it into the ‘Drone’s remote identification system’ if this is available on your drone.

Regulatory reference: article 14 EU regulation 2019/947.

Who is a drone operator?

A drone operator is any person, whether natural or an organisation, who owns the drone(s) or rents the drone. You can be both a drone operator and a remote pilot if you are also the person who actually flies the drone. However, you could be the remote pilot without being a drone operator, if, for example, you are a pilot working for a company which provides services with drones. In that case, the company is the drone operator and you are the remote pilot.

If you bought a drone to fly it in your leisure time, you are both the drone operator and remote pilot.

If you bought a drone to give away as a gift, the person who will receive the gift and then fly the drone will be the drone operator and the remote pilot.

What is the difference between autonomous and automatic drone?

An autonomous drone is able to conduct a safe flight without the intervention of a pilot. It does so with the help of artificial intelligence, enabling it to cope with all kinds of unforeseen and unpredictable emergency situations.   This is different from automatic operations, where the drone flies pre-determined routes defined by the drone operator before starting the flight. For this type of drone, it is essential for the remote pilot to take control of the drone to intervene in unforeseen events for which the drone has not been programmed.   While automatic drones are allowed in all categories, autonomous drones are not allowed in the ’open’ category.

Autonomous drones need a level of verification of compliance with the technical requirements that is not compatible with the system put in place for the ’open’ category. Autonomous operations are, instead, allowed in the ’specific’ category, where the Regulation includes a tool flexible enough to verify requirements with the appropriate level of robustness. 

Autonomous operations are also allowed in the ’certified’ category.

Can I fly over people?

Generally when you operate in the ‘open’ category, you are not allowed to fly over uninvolved people, unless you have a privately built drone with a weight below 250 g or a drone purchased on the market with a  class identification label0 or 1 mark. In any case, try to minimise the time during which you fly over people.

If you have a drone with a CE class 2 mark, under subcategory A2, as a general rule, keep the UA at a lateral distance from any uninvolved person that is not less than the height at which the drone is flying (this is the ‘1:1 rule’, i.e. if the UA is flying at a height of 40 m, the distance from any uninvolved person should be at least 40 m), and never fly closer than 30 metres horizontally from any uninvolved person. If your drone is equipped with a low-speed mode function and this is active, you can fly as close as 5 metres from uninvolved people.   


Distance from uninvolved people in the case of flying with a class C2 drone

In all other cases (drones with  class identification label3, 4, 5 or 6 marks or privately built and heavier than 250 g), you need to ensure that no uninvolved people are present within the range of the operation.  

Regulatory reference: article 4 (1) (c) and UAS.OPEN.040 of EU regulation 2019/947.

Who is an ‘uninvolved person’?

‘An uninvolved person is a person who is not participating in the UAS operation or who is not aware of the instructions and safety precautions given by the UAS (drone) operator’. 

A person is considered involved if he/she decides to be a part of the operation, understands the risk and is able to check the position of the drone while it is flying. 

Therefore, in order to be considered ‘involved’ in the operation, a person needs to:

  • give consent to be a part of the operation (e.g. consent to be overflown by the drone); the consent needs to be explicit; 

  • receive from the drone operator/remote pilot instructions and safety precautions to be applied in case of an emergency situation; and

  • not be busy with any other activities that would make the person unable to check the position of the drone and, in case of an incident, take action to avoid being hit. 

Writing on a ticket that a drone will be used during an event is not considered sufficient, since the drone operator needs to receive individual explicit consent and make sure people understand the risk and the procedures to be taken in case of an emergency.

During the operation, it is expected that involved persons will follow the trajectory of the drone and be ready to take action to protect themselves in case the drone behaves unexpectedly. If, during the UAS operation, people are busy working or watching something that is not compatible with monitoring the trajectory of the drone, than they cannot be considered to be involved.

Examples of uninvolved people: 

  • spectators gathered for sport activities, concerts or other mass events;

  • people in a beach or in a park, or walking on the streets.

An uninvolved person is not only a person who is directly exposed to a drone, but could also be a person who is in a bus, car, etc., and who is indirectly exposed. For example, if a drone is flying over a car, its driver should be considered to be an ‘uninvolved person’. The reason is that a drone flying close to a car (even if it does not impact it) could possibly distract its driver and therefore cause a car accident.

Regulatory reference: GM1 Article 2(18) Definitions, ED Decision 2019/021/R

What is an ‘assembly of people’?

An assembly of people is a crowd of people. It is not defined by a specific number of people, but is related to the possibility for an individual to move around in order to avoid the consequences of a drone which is out of control. If a group of people are so densely packed that their possibility to freely escape or move away from the drone is limited, then it is considered to be an assembly of people. 

Examples of assemblies of people are the people in: 

  • sport, cultural, religious or political events;

  • beaches or parks on a sunny day;

  • commercial streets during the opening hours of the shops; or

  • ski resorts/tracks/lanes.  

Regulatory reference: GM1 Article 2(3) Definitions, ED Decision 2019/021/R

How high can I fly my drone?

Your maximum flight height is generally 120 m from the earth’s surface. Please check whether the National Aviation Authority imposes a geographical zone with a lower limit in the area where you fly. If you need to fly over an obstacle taller than 120 m, you are allowed to fly up to 15 metres above the height of the obstacle, but only if there is an explicit request from the owner of the obstacle (e.g. a contract with the owner to perform an inspection). In such a case, you may fly within a horizontal distance of 50 metres from the obstacle. 

When you are operating in hilly environments, the height of the drone above the surface of the earth should be within the grey zone in the picture below: you need to keep the drone within 120 m of the closest point of the terrain. This means that there may be conditions such as on top of a hill where even if you keep your drone 120 m from the side of the hill, you are actually flying at a distance higher than 120 m above the bottom of the valley. So as long as you keep your drone within 120 m of the shoulder of the hill (as in the grey area in the picture below), your flight is legal.

Is there a minimum age to fly a drone?

The minimum age for remote pilots of drones in the ‘open’ and ’specific’ categories is 16 years old, however, check with your local National Aviation Authority, as they can lower the minimum age requirement.

However, there is no minimum age for flying a drone with a CE class 0 mark under subcategory A1.

Regulatory reference: Article 9 EU regulation 2019/947.

Do I need a licence to get insurance?

In most cases yes. There are insurance companies who will insure you at a premium without training but they are very rare. Training and certification decrease your chance of having a crash and so insurance companies reward this. For most commercial work, the person hiring a pilot will insist on the pilot being licenced and insured.


How much should I charge for drone photos and videos?

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