Open category of civil drones

The ‘open’ category of civil drones is the category of low risk flight for which no operational authorisation or pre-flight declaration is required.

This is the main and differential characteristic of this category, since if you had to ask for some kind of authorization or declaration we would no longer be performing our activity in the ‘open category’ but we would be about to enter the ‘specific category’.

Even if you are not subject to having to register as a drone operator and you can fly a drone without a licence with complete freedom, I recommend you read my article on what are the 5 minimum requirements to fly a drone in Spain.

It is essential that you are fully aware of these requirements so that you do not receive a fine for flying a drone in Spain under irregular conditions, and above all to avoid damaging something or someone.

Requirements for the open category for drones

You should note that drone flights in the ‘open’ category must comply with requirements under Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947.

Requirements in Article 4

  • Your drone weighs less than 25 kg.
  • Volar a una distancia “segura” de personas y no sobrevolar concentraciones de ellas: manifestaciones, conciertos, eventos deportivos etc.. Esto último está definido en el artículo 2.3:
    • It is defined by concentrations of people when the density of these does not allow a safe dissolution of them to avoid the impact of the drone in case of fall.
  • The drone to be operated belongs to one of the classes already established in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/45, is privately built or meets the conditions established for drones without class marking. Also, if the purpose of the flight is recreational, today, you will not need any kind of license to fly it, as long as you are familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • MTOM (masa máxima al despegue) inferior a 25 kg
  • Maintain a horizontal safe distance from outsiders without overflying concentrations of people.
  • Always keep the drone at a distance that can be seen (VLOS), unless we are using the “follow me” mode, or when we have observers (article 2.24) that can visually follow the unmanned aircraft.
  • Maximum flight height of 120 meters from the closest point to the surface, always following the terrain orography.
  • The UAS shall not drop any object and shall not carry dangerous goods.
  • Interrupt the flight in case of danger with other aircraft, people, animals or anything else.
  • Read the manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • NEVER drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the consequences can be disastrous in every way.
  • Do not fly if any relief or emergency work was being carried out in the area.

Requirements in Article 9

Here he talks about the minimum age of remote pilots:

  • The minimum age for remote pilots in the open drone category is 12-14 years old.
  • No se exigirá edad mínima a los pilotos:
    • They operate in subcategory A1 with a class 0 drone type (explained below) and their manufacturer lists it as a toy (drones that are designed for persons under 14 years of age), i.e. UAS that do not require registration as a drone operator.
    • Private construction drones with a MTOM of less than 250gr (these drones may not have an image capture system).
  • Los Estados miembros pueden reducir la edad mínima dependiendo los riesgos y las operaciones relacionadas en su territorio:
    • In 4 years in open category
    • Up to 2 years if piloting in a specific category
  • This reduction is only applicable to the UAS of that Member State.
  • Member States may also specify a different minimum age for remote pilots in the framework of clubs and associations.

Minimum ages of operators and pilots in open drone category

Requirements of Article 14

  • All drones, except those declared as toys, are required to have drone liability insurance. The prices of these insurances vary depending on the insurer and whether your activity is recreational or professional. This will be maintained until the release of the next RD, in which it is foreseen that drones of less than 250 gr will not have to have insurance.
  • Assess whether you should register as a drone operator. Read my related article to find out if you are required to. This registration, if required, should be made only once and in the Member State of habitual residence.
  • Currently you are not required to put an identification plate, but you are required to put your drone operator number on all your drones, also if you add any other personal information if you lose it you will be able to recover it.

Subdivisions of the ‘open’ category: A1, A2, and A3

The ‘open’ category of civil drones is divided into 3 subcategories: A1, A2, and A3.

Subcategory A1 of the ‘open’ category (drones weighing less than 250 gr)

This flight is performed in such a way as to avoid overflying people who are not involved in the flight operation and concentrations of people. Drones wishing to operate in this subcategory must comply with the following:

  • It is not mandatory to obtain a drone license through the exam but highly recommended.
  • Be privately built drones with a MTOM strong, <open250 grams, and with a maximum speed strong, <19 m/s. One example is the DJI Mini 3 with a maximum speed of 13 m/s.
    Another more economical example could be the Holy Stone HS440.
  • Without class marking and having entered the market before 1 January 2024 with the requirements for “drones without class marking”.
  • NON-PARTICIPANTS (people who are NOT aware of the instructions and safety precautions of the operation) may fly over, but not concentrations of people.
  • Familiar with the drone manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Etiqueta de marcado de clase 0:
    • < 250 g
    • < 19 m/s
    • Power supply
  • Con UAS de menos de 250 gr no tendrás que realizar el registro en AESA como operador, solo si tu dron:
    • It has a MTOM (maximum take-off mass) greater than 250 grams.
    • Can transfer more than 80J of energy on impact.
    • It is equipped with a sensor to capture personal data (photography, video or sound), unless the drone manufacturer states in the instructions that the drone is a toy (in accordance with Directive 2009/48/EC).

Drones weighing less than 250 grams have less flight restrictions than the rest, but you should know that you cannot fly freely wherever you want, you may be subject to flight restrictions in certain areas.

Consult the Enaire drones map to know the status of the area where you want to operate and request the corresponding permits if required.

In this category would be for example the MINI 2 and MINI 3 PRO.

  • Con etiqueta de marcado de clase 1:
    • A drone licence needs to be obtained through a test that can be taken free of charge on the AESA website.
    • You may not fly over groups of people or NON-PARTICIPANTS, and limit the flight time over people who have unexpectedly gotten inside the boundaries where we are operating.
    • MTOM <900 g or transmitted impact energy < 80 J
    • Maximum horizontal flight speed of 19 m/s
    • Power supply
    • Unique serial number
    • Direct and network remote identification system
    • Geo-awareness system
    • Low battery warning system for drone and control station

As examples of drones for this class 1 you would have the DJI AIR 3 and the MAVIC 3.

Subcategory A2 of the category ‘open’.

In this subcategory of the ‘open’ category of civil drones, a horizontal distance of at least 30 metres must be maintained from persons not involved in the operation or flight.

In this subcategory, only drones bearing a Class 2 marking label, i.e. complying with the following, may fly:

  • MTOM < 4 Kg
  • Selectable low speed mode limiting the maximum speed to 3 m/s, unless it is a fixed wing unmanned aircraft
  • Power supply
  • Unique serial number
  • Direct and network remote identification system
  • Geo-awareness system
  • Low battery warning system for drone and control station
  • It must be equipped with a protected data link to prevent misappropriation of the equipment by persons not involved in the operation.
  • It must be equipped with lights to control the attitude of the drone and night flight.

Subcategory A3 of the category ‘open’.

In the next subcategory of the ‘open’ category of civil drones, A3, operations conducted must be in areas where persons not involved in the operation are safe and at a minimum horizontal safe distance of 150 metres from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.

UAS or drones eligible to fly in this subcategory must comply with the following:

  • Private construction with a MTOM <25 kg
  • Not class-marked and placed on the market before 1 January 2024, with the requirements for UAS without class marking
  • Carry class C2 marking label
  • Etiqueta de marcado de clase C3 y que cumplan lo siguiente:
    • MTOM <25 kg with dimensions less than 3 m
    • Power supply
    • Unique serial number
    • Direct and network remote identification system
    • Geo-awareness system
    • Low battery warning system for drone and control station
    • Equipped with protection against misappropriation by someone outside the operation
    • Attitude control and night flight lights
  • Llevar etiqueta de marcado de clase C4 y que cumplan lo siguiente:
    • MTOM <25 kg
    • Controllable and safely manoeuvrable by a pilot at a distance according to manufacturer’s instructions
    • No automatic control modes except to assist the flight without any direct effect on the trajectory and for assistance in case we lose the signal between the remote control and the UAS (RTH – Return to home).
    • For the purpose of practising aeromodelling

Night flight in open drone category

Can a drone be flown at night? The answer is yes. Although attention to the considerations to be taken into account:

  • You must have a green flashing light (this is mandatory as of July 1, 2022 according to Article 23.3 of the regulation.
  • Cannot fly at an altitude higher than 50 meters
  • It is advisable to know the terrain beforehand where the operation is going to be performed, and even better if it has been flown before, this way we can know the terrain orography, if there is wiring of any kind or not, in short, any possible obstruction for the drone because at night the sensors do not work as during the day.

Drone courses for ‘open’ category of civil drones

Today, AESA offers you the possibility to obtain the A1-A3 drone pilot license, which is the minimum to fly drones in the least restrictive scenarios, free of charge. To obtain other types of more advanced flight licenses and outside the ‘open drone category’, you will have to contact pilot schools to take one of the drone courses they offer.

If you want to level up, leave behind recreational flying and make money flying drones, as I decided to do one day, first of all, study how far you want to go in the world of aeronautics and get down to work with obtaining a drone pilot license you need to do so.

I can help you if you need some tips or advice on which drone to buy, and start using it. Contact me for that.

After reading this article, do you have any doubts or are you unclear about something? In which category do you usually fly? What drone do you have and what uses do you usually use it for? Tell me about it, your opinion and experience interests me and the readers of this blog of drones.

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