Certification and licensing
Basic requirements and procedures
What certificates or licences are required to operate drones and what procedures apply?
A drone operator only needs to register once, regardless of how many drones he or she has. The registration period is defined by the relevant national aviation authority. However, a drone operator does not need to register him or herself if the drone weighs less than 250g and has no camera or other sensor able to detect personal data, or even with a camera or other sensor, weighs less than 250g (ie, it is a toy).
After registering, the drone operator will receive a drone operator registration number. This needs to be displayed on all the drones the operator owns and must be uploaded to the drone’s remote identification system. This unique registration number will be valid in all other member states of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Taxes and fees
Are certification and licensing procedures subject to any taxes or fees?
The Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) charges €90 per hour to process a licensing application (usually it takes four to five hours to complete the procedure). The enrolment of a drone on the D-Flight website is subject to a monthly fee of €6.
In addition, ENAC fees in relation to flight operations range from €94 for non-critical operations to €309 for critical operations and research and development flights.
Who may apply for certifications and licences? Do any restrictions apply?
No restrictions apply to drone operators in terms of market access, including nationality of ownership or financial stability.
Remote pilot licences
Must remote pilots obtain any certifications or licences to operate drones? If so, do the relevant procedures differ based on the type of drone or operation?
Yes, remote pilots must obtain certifications or licences to operate drones, based on the drone maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and the type of operation.
The operation of drones having a MTOW below 25kg – which are used for visual line of sight (VLOS) non-critical operations – is subject to a pilot certification that is issued following the successful completion of an online exam made on a dedicated web portal of ENAC, in compliance with EU legal framework.
To fly a drone in an EASA member state, a drone operator must take an online training course, which is administered in each member state. The only exception to the training requirement is if the drone is classified as a C0 drone, as no training is required for operating these light drones.
As part of the training requirements for the ’open’ category (subcategories A1 and A3), remote pilots must:
- be familiar with the manufacturer’s manual or instructions for operating the drone;
- complete an online training course provided by the national aviation authority within that member state; and
- complete an online theoretical knowledge examination (at the end of the online training).
Remote pilots who need to operate under subcategory A2 will be required to take additional steps to be compliant with training requirements. In addition to the above, pilots must:
- complete practical training (in an area that does not pose risk to others or yourself) to familiarise themselves with the drone and ensure they reach a good level of control; and
- complete an additional theoretical knowledge examination that will be provided in a facility identified by their national aviation authority. The examination consists of 30 multiple choice questions testing the pilot’s knowledge on mitigation of ground risks, meteorology and the drone’s flight performance. A Certificate of Remote Pilot Competency is issued upon completion.
Training requirements for the ‘specific’ category vary depending on the intended operation. The requirements listed below only apply under a standard scenario.
- The remote pilot must hold a Certificate of Remote Pilot Theoretical Knowledge.
- The remote pilot must hold an accreditation of completion of the STS-01 practical skill training.
Training requirements for ‘certified’ category operations represent the greatest degree of risk and, therefore, the proper certification and training requirements have not been decided yet as current aviation regulations will need to be amended.
Are foreign operators authorised to fly drones in your jurisdiction? If so, what requirements and restrictions apply?
Upon the entering into force of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 (the ’new’ Basic Regulation in the field of civil aviation), all EU operators will be allowed to fly drones in the territory of the European Union without any ‘nationality’ restrictions imposed by the member states.
Certificate of airworthiness
Is a certificate of airworthiness required to operate drones? If so, what procedures apply?
A certificate of airworthiness is required only for the ‘certified’ category, catering for the operations with the highest level of risk. Future drone flights with passengers on board, such as air taxiing, will fall into this category. The approach used to ensure the safety of these flights will be very similar to the one used for manned aviation.
For this reason, these aircraft will always need to be certified (ie, have a type certificate and a certificate of airworthiness), the unmanned aircraft system operator will need an air operator approval issued by the competent authority and the remote pilot is required to hold a pilot’s licence. In the long term, we expect that the level of automation of drones will gradually increase up to having fully autonomous drones without the need for intervention from a remote pilot.
Law stated date
Give the date on which the information above is accurate.
4 October 2020.