The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published guidance for drone operators, manufacturers and national authorities explaining the process for the design verification of drones, an important element in ensuring safe drone operations in the high-risk ‘specific’ category.
Since the new EU drone regulation became applicable on December 31, 2020, the volume of drone operations taking place across Europe has been stepped up. Operators are also gradually increasing the scope of their operations and the design verification of the drone by EASA is an important element to ensure safety, in particular when operations are conducted in populated areas.
The process applied for the design verification will depend on the level of risk of the operation. When the drone is used in operations classified as high risk (i.e. SAIL V and VI according to SORA), EASA will issue a type certificate according to Part 21 (Regulation (EU) 748/2012). When the drone is used in operations classified in the medium risk (i.e. SAIL III and IV according to SORA), a more proportionate approach will be applied, leading to a ‘design verification report’. The procedure to apply to EASA for the issuance of the ‘design verification report’ are described in the Guidelines.
The design verification process is immediately applicable and national aviation authorities are encouraged to require all UAS operators who are conducting operations in the ‘specific’ category, with medium risk, to operate drones for which EASA has issued a ‘design verification report’.