It’s a historic day for the European drone industry. Ireland-based Manna Aero has become the first-ever operator to receive the much-coveted “light UAS operator certificate” (LUC) that would allow the drone delivery startup to self-authorize operations across the European Union.
Interestingly, Manna is also the first company to approach the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for an LUC after successfully trialing drone delivery services in rural Ireland. And the aviation regulator has ensured that Manna’s operational capabilities meet all the new safety and security standards set by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) at the start of this year.
Acknowledging that drone services are an important part of the green technology mix in Europe and provide a competitive alternative to traditional service delivery, Ireland’s State Aviation Regulator, Diarmuid Ó Conghaile, congratulates Manna on their success by saying:
The light UAS operator certificate is a very exciting development in EU regulatory terms and provides Irish companies like Manna Aero with access to a potential European market of over half a billion customers. Our ambition for the new IAA is to facilitate UAS innovation and competitiveness with the highest safety and security standards, ultimately providing benefits to consumers at the end of the supply chain.
Bobby Healy, CEO of Manna Aero, clarifies that the achievement comes after a two-year engagement period with the IAA. Insisting that the certification is a strong endorsement not only for Manna but also for the nascent European drone delivery market as well as Ireland as a technology epicenter for drone technology, Healy says:
We thank EASA, and IAA for their vision and leadership, our delivery partners, and of course our wonderful trial customers in Oranmore and Moneygall for helping us to get this far.
What is a light UAS operator certificate (LUC) and why does it matter?
EASA explains LUC as an organizational approval certificate. Drone operators may ask the National Aviation Authority of registration to have their organization assessed to demonstrate that they are capable of assessing the risk of an operation themselves. The requirements to be demonstrated by drone operators are defined in Part C of Regulation (EU) 2019/947. When the National Aviation Authority is satisfied, they will issue a light UAS operator certificate (LUC) and they will assign privileges to the drone operators based on their level of maturity. The privileges may allow the organization to self-authorize operations without applying for an authorization.
The privileges may be one or more of the following:
- Conduct operations covered by standard scenarios without submitting the declaration;
- Self-authorize operations conducted by the drone operator and covered by a PDRA without applying for an authorization;
- Self-authorize all operations conducted by the drone operator without applying for an authorization.
It’s also worth noting that just last month, Manna raised $25 million in Series A funding to expand its operations into the US market.