Changes for drone pilots in 2024

Since 31 December 2020, the same rules for flying drones have applied across the European Union. These rules have brought us much: the EU Drone Licence that allows you to fly legally in all EU countries, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.

At the end of 2023, we will say goodbye to temporary EU legislation. The 'transitional regime' will end. This has implications for you as a drone pilot.

Technical requirements

Under EU legislation, (new, manufacturer-produced) drones must meet technical requirements, through a Cx label. However, there was a problem: these requirements had not been established at all when the EU legislation was introduced in 2020.

Regardless, the Cx labels were already communicated. DJI's first aircraft with such a label appeared in 2022. You can see an example below:

Drone with C1 label

Thanks to the transitional regime, we could just keep flying drones without worrying about whether they had a Cx label on them. Meanwhile, the requirements have been established. We also see manufacturers equipping aircraft (retroactively or not) with such a mandatory label.

Continuing to fly drones without a Cx label

Although the transitional regime ends, you can continue to fly drones without a Cx label. The table below shows the rules from 1 January 2024.

Drones without Cx label Until the end of 2023 From 1 January 2024
< 250 grams Subcategory A1 Subcategory A1
250 - 500 grams Subcategory A1 Subcategory A3
500 grams - 2 kilo Subcategory A2 Subcategory A3
2 - 25 kilo Subcategory A3 Subcategory A3

With self-built drones, you fly from 250 grams in subcategory A3.

Flying with Cx-label drones

Thanks to Cx labels, it becomes clearer more quickly where you are flying and what you need in terms of certificates.

Cx label Subcategory Certificate
C0 A1 A1-A3 recommended
C1 A1 A1-A3
C2 A2 A2
C3 A3 A1-A3
C4 A3 A1-A3
C5 Specific category STS
C6 Specific category STS

In the case of the C2 label, we note the following further: You may also fly a C2 label aircraft in subcategory A3. However, to fly a C2 label aircraft, you always need the additional A2 certificate.

Remote ID requirement

From 1 January 2024, a new requirement will come into force: Remote ID.

This obligation doesn not apply to legacy drones and C0 label aircraft. With legacy drones from 250, you are flying in subcategory A3 (with a minimum distance of 150 metres to residential zones).

Remote ID is a system that allows drones to transmit identification and location information. This information can be received by air traffic, authorities and anyone with the right equipment, e.g. a specialised receiver.

Doesn't your aircraft have a Cx label in the open category?

You can continue to fly without Remote ID.

Does your aircraft have a Cx label?

Aircraft with a C1 to C6 label meet the Remote ID requirement by default. Aircraft with a C0 label are excluded from this requirement.

Does your drone not have a Cx label in the specific category?

The appliance must meet the Remote ID requirement. You will need to purchase a Remote ID module or have the aircraft upgraded to a Cx label via the manufacturer. If you fly in (future) U-Space, the Remote ID requirement applies from 250 grams.

Sem van Geffen

Co-owner Drone Class B.V.

About the author

Sem is an experienced trainer/developer, with drones as his main interest. He holds the Dutch RPA-L license and the EASA STS theory certificate. His specialism is EU aviation law and he enjoys flying the DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise.

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