Introduction
Applicable aerial objects
Operational requirements
Comment


Introduction

The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) recently issued the Regulation on Remotely Piloted Aerial Vehicles (the first draft of which was issued on December 16 2013, and which entered into force on April 30 2014). The regulation provides a legal framework for the operation of drones in the Italian territory.

The use of this kind of aircraft has increased dramatically recently – including for air surveillance, environmental control, public order purposes, traffic monitoring and disaster management – and constitutes a remarkable development opportunity for the national industry. ENAC's initiative thus fills the regulatory gap within which these professional and commercial activities have been taking place.

Applicable aerial objects

The regulation applies to two categories of aerial object: remotely piloted aerial vehicles (RPAVs) and model aircraft. In order to distinguish between the two categories, the regulation takes a functional approach that considers the purpose of the aerial object, rather than its intrinsic technical characteristics, as the relevant distinguishing criterion. 'Model aircraft' are defined as remotely piloted unmanned devices that are used exclusively for recreational and sporting purposes. RPAVs (according to Article 743 of the Navigation Code) fall within the category of 'aircraft' and are defined as remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles that are not used for recreation or sport.

Operational requirements

In order to determine operational requirements, the regulation establishes two categories of RPAV: those with a take-off weight of less than 25 kilograms (kg) and those with a take-off weight of 25 kg or more. For lighter drones employed in non-critical flight operations, the responsibility to assess airworthiness rests with the operator, which must provide a self-declaration of compliance with the regulation. In contrast, critical flight operations require authorisation from ENAC. The critical nature of a flight operation depends on the type of area involved in the activity – whether congested, restricted or hosting critical infrastructure – and on the potential risk of damage to third parties.

RPAVs with a take-off weight of 25 kg or more require airworthiness certification and operator authorisation from ENAC, irrespective of whether the flight operation is critical.

In addition, the regulation establishes mandatory third-party insurance coverage and subjects the treatment of personal data collected by RPAV operations to the Data Protection Code.

With regard to model aircraft, the regulation establishes a more lenient framework by imposing only a number of technical requirements for their flight operations. No self-declarations or authorisations are required.

Comment

The ENAC regulation represents one of the first pieces of legislation to provide a legal framework for this type of aerial object, in the absence of a common European standard and with the International Civil Aviation Organisation still committed to the amendment of relevant annexes to the Chicago Convention in order to include drones.

For further information on this topic please contact Laura Pierallini at Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati by telephone (+39 06 88 41 713), fax (+39 06 88 40 249) or email ([email protected]). The Studio Legale Pierallini e Associati website can be accessed at www.studiopierallini.it.