In the recent past, anyone who wanted to buy a drone encountered an absurd situation: On the one hand, according to EU law, all models must in future be assigned a so-called CE class, which determines where and how you can fly. On the other hand, manufacturers always only stated that their drones have not yet been classified.
This is now over: According to its own statements, DJI is now the first drone manufacturer in the world to receive a C1 certification from a so-called “Notified Body” (in this case TÜV Rheinland) – for its “Mavic 3″ series. The certificate is valid throughout the European Economic Area (EEA, ie EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
What’s the point?
Mavic 3 series C1 certification requires update to C1 compliant firmware. The effort is worth it: users can now fly in the new open category A1 and no longer have to take the A2 “Remote Piloting License” exam. They have more freedom to fly in environments previously denied to them without a C1 certificate or only accessible with a special permit.
As a C1-certified drone with C1-compatible firmware, the Mavic 3 is subject to the following mandatory changes to the European Drone Regulation:
- The models in the series meet the new noise limit of 83db.
- When using ActiveTrack Intelligent Flight Mode to film people or objects, the distance to the person/object is limited to 50 m. Beyond 50m, ActiveTrack will be disabled.
- The auxiliary LEDs are automatically switched on or off during use.
- By default, the LEDs on the drone’s front outriggers will flash for the duration of the drone’s power on.
These changes will be activated once a Mavic 3 Series C1 certified drone is flown in the European Economic Area (EEA).
What do users have to do?
According to DJI, the application process for obtaining the new class C1 identification plate for the Mavic 3 series is expected to be available to all customers from Q4/2022. From this point on, users should be able to apply for it on a voluntary basis free of charge.
To do this, they must provide the serial number of their drone and confirm that they have updated to the firmware required for C1 certification. More details will be announced in due course, according to DJI.
The current developments were triggered by the European Union’s Drone Regulation of May 24, 2019 (Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947). As an EU regulation, unlike a directive, it took effect immediately in every country of the Union. It stipulates that, in future, unmanned aerial vehicles in Europe will be divided into seven drone classes, C0 to C6. The classes reflect that not every drone poses the same risk of severe damage to people, animals and property in the event of a collision.
The main criterion for the classification is the take-off weight of the model or its kinetic energy. To put it simply: the heavier the drone, the higher the demands on the device to minimize the risk of accidents through built-in safety functions. In line with this, the requirements for the duties of the long-distance pilot or owner increase with the category – for example registering with the Federal Aviation Authority (LBA), providing certain proof of knowledge and labeling their drone.
For private users, the so-called “open category” for low-risk flights at a maximum height of 120 meters above ground and within visual range is important – and the risk classes C0 to C4 contained therein, covering everything from toy drones to models with a weight cover under 25 kilograms.
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