Andreas Fankhauser December 21 2022 Switzerland finally adopts EU drone regulations bellpark legal ag | Aviation - Switzerland Andreas Fankhauser Aviation BackgroundEU drone regulationsNew obligations for drone operators and remote pilotsCommentSwitzerland will soon harmonise its regulatory framework for civil drones with the European Union. New rules will apply to drone pilots and the Swiss drone industry from 1 January 2023.BackgroundAt the European level, the framework – which primarily consists of EU Regulation 2019/945 and EU Regulation 2019/947 – entered into force on 1 January 2021. The Swiss government initially planned to apply the two regulations in parallel with the European Union, but the reform faced pushback from the Swiss aeromodeller community and their political representatives (for further details, see "Delay in adoption of EU drone regulations").In the meantime, the concerns have been addressed via consultations with model aircraft hobbyists and all other stakeholders. On 24 November 2022, the joint committee of the EU-Switzerland Air Transport Agreement decided that Switzerland will implement the EU drone regulations.EU drone regulationsThe EU drone regulations set safety standards throughout the European Union and Switzerland for the manufacturing, certification and operation of drones. Depending on the operating risk, new categories – "open", "specific" and "certified" – will be introduced:The open category covers operations that present a low risk to third parties and are subject to no further authorisation requirements. This category is further divided into subcategories to allow for different types of operation without the need for an authorisation.The specific category deals with operations that pose greater risks than those of the open category and that require authorisation from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation.The certified category concerns operations that present an equivalent risk to manned aviation and so are subject to a similar regime, including the certification of the aircraft and operator and the licensing of the pilot.Most small drones, especially those piloted by hobbyists, fall in the open category.New obligations for drone operators and remote pilotsDrone operators will have to register with the Federal Office of Civil Aviation and remote pilots will have to undergo appropriate training for operations to be conducted.Drone operators and remote pilots may be two different persons:The drone operator is the person who is registered and is responsible for the operation (normally the owner of the drone).The remote pilot is the person who controls the drone. The drone operator may also be the remote pilot, or they may employ one or more drone pilots.New maximum flight altitudes, weight limits and area restrictions apply. To address public concerns, regulations have been introduced for environmental protection, privacy and security.Drone operators must have appropriate liability insurance. Some drone accidents and serious incidents, including all accidents resulting in death or serious injuries as well as near misses with manned aircraft, must be reported to the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board and the Federal Office of Civil Aviation.CommentSwitzerland is also committed to adopting and developing the European U-Space regulatory package, which includes EU Regulation 2021/664, EU Regulation 2021/665 and EU Regulation 2021/666. U-Space aims to develop highly automated drone operations, including urban mobility, and their integration in the national airspace system. The long-term vision is that of full integration of manned and unmanned aircraft in the same airspace, with common rules and digital traffic management solutions.For further information on this topic please contact Andreas Fankhauser at bellpark legal ag by telephone (+41 43 204 0090) or email ([email protected]). The bellpark legal ag website can be accessed at bellparklegal.com.