Operations and maintenance

One drone, one pilot

Does the ‘one drone, one pilot’ rule apply in your jurisdiction?

No. The operator is the subject of the registration, which shall include the entire fleet of drones of such operator. For instance, the QR identifying code is released by the D-Flight website, following the operator registration, and is the same for all drones relating to such operator.

Maintenance

Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of drones?

Drone operators must prepare a maintenance programme to ensure the continuing airworthiness of drones, following the instructions released by the relevant manufacturer. In addition, operators must set up a data recording system with respect to flight hours, safety-related events, maintenance activities and the replacement of components.

Ordinary maintenance can be carried out by the same operator upon having attended a maintenance course with the relevant drone manufacturer, or with external organisations certified by such manufacturer.

Pursuant to article 17 of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority’s (ENAC) Regulation UAS-IT of 1 January 2021 (the ENAC Regulation), in case of high-risk operations, the drone operator must set up a maintenance programme according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the continuing airworthiness of its fleet. This programme must also include a recording system for flight hours, safety occurrences, maintenance duties and the replacement of parts.

Ordinary maintenance can be carried out by the same operator once it has passed a specific course with the relevant manufacturer or other authorised organisations. However, heavy and extraordinary maintenance must be performed by the drone manufacturer or any authorised organisation.

The ordinary maintenance can be performed by the manufacturer, by other authorised organisations or by the operator itself upon having passed a specific maintenance course with the said manufacturer of the authorised organisation.

Basic operational rules and restrictions

What rules and restrictions apply to flights performed in ‘visual line of sight’ (VLOS) and ‘beyond visual line of sight’ (BVLOS)? Is there a distinction in this regard?

Yes, different regulations apply to VLOS flights and BVLOS flights.

During VLOS flights, the operator must always remain able to keep visual contact with the drone without the assistance of devices, to monitor the flight performance at any time and avoid collision with – and damage to – other aircraft, persons, vessels, vehicles and infrastructures.

According to article 4 of EU Implementing Regulation No. 2019/947, unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations are classified in the ‘open’ category only where:

  • the UAS has a class that is set out in EU Delegated Regulation No. 2019/945;
  • the UAS has a maximum take-off mass of less than 25kg;
  • the UAS operation is conducted in VLOS and the UAS is kept at a safe distance of at least 1.5km from inhabited areas, airports and sensitive zones, and at least 100m from infrastructure such as highways, hospitals, power plants, etc;
  • during an operation, the UAS does not carry dangerous goods and does not drop any material; and
  • the UAS’s flying height is limited to 120m above the surface of the earth.

 

Pursuant to article 23 of the ENAC Regulation, the pilot must plan each flight on the D-Flight portal in BVLOS operations.

What rules and restrictions apply to critical and non-critical operations? Is there a distinction in this regard?

Pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, no distinction is made between critical and non-critical operations but there are different categories (‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified’), which are based on the risk of relevant flight operations:

  • the 'open’ category is a category of UAS operation that, considering the risks involved, does not require prior authorisation by the competent authority nor a declaration by the UAS operator before the operation takes place;
  • the ‘specific’ category is a category of UAS operation that, considering the risks involved, requires an authorisation by the competent authority before the operation takes place, taking into account the mitigation measures identified in an operational risk assessment, except for certain standard scenarios where a declaration by the operator is sufficient or when the operator holds a light UAS operator certificate with the appropriate privileges; and
  • the ‘certified’ category is a category of unmanned aircraft operation that, considering the risks involved, requires the certification of the UAS, a licensed remote pilot and an operator approved by the competent authority, to ensure an appropriate level of safety.
Transport operations

Is air transport via drone (eg, cargo and mail) regulated in your jurisdiction? If so, what requirements, limitations and restrictions apply?

Yes. Recently, a number of test cargo flights took place in the context of a research programme overseen by ENAC. The results of the research will be one of the key elements to support the development of future regulation on air transport via drones for both commercial and government use.

Do any specific provisions governing consumer protection and tracking systems apply with respect to cargo and delivery operations via drone?

No, they do not. Generally, the Italian Consumer Code (Law No. 206/2005) applies to consumer protection issues.

Insurance requirements

What insurance requirements apply to the operation of drones?

Drone flights cannot be conducted unless third-party liability insurance exists for each type of operation, in compliance with the coverage laid down by Regulation (EC) No. 785/2004 on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators (as amended from time to time).

Safety requirements

What safety requirements apply to the operation of drones?

During VLOS flights, the operator must always remain able to keep visual contact with the drone without the assistance of devices, to monitor the flight performance at any time and avoid collision with – and damage to – other aircraft, persons, vessels, vehicles and infrastructures.

Pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, no distinction is made between critical and non-critical operations but there are different categories (‘open’, ‘specific’ and ‘certified’), which are based on the risk of relevant flight operations.

Law stated date

Correct on

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

4 October 2020.