Are you a drone pilot, are you passionate about them or are you thinking of purchasing one in the near future and don’t know what all the EASA regulations are about? We are coming with a brand new article that will update you on the latest European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations.

Open category

Most drone passionates and professional pilots fall into the open flight category, meeting the following requirements:

  • has a class 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 identification label; or
  • it is privately built and its weight is less than 25 kg; or
  • is purchased before January 1, 2023, without a class identification tag as above;
  • will not be operated directly over humans unless carrying a class identification tag or lighter than 250g;
  • will be maintained in line of sight or the remote pilot will be assisted by a UA spotter;
  • the drone flies at a height of no more than 120 meters;
  • will not carry dangerous goods or release any material.

The subcategories of the open category according to EASA

Once you are sure that you fall into the open category, you need to see what subcategory you fall into in order to fly legally, that is, in accordance with the regulations of this subcategory.

The Open category has three subcategories: A1, A2 and A3. The classification of the drone you own is done either by its class identification tag (0, 1, 2, 3 or 4) or by its weight (if the drone does not have a class tag and was purchased before January 1, 2023).

The subcategories of the open flight operations category Type of drone by class identification tag
A1 – Urban areas (but not over crowds) or outside urban areas Class 0 or 1 identification tag
Privately built drone with MTOM < 250 g and a flight speed < 19 m/s
Unclassified drone with MTOM < 250g including fuel and payload. From January 1, 2023
A2 – Urban areas keeping at least 5m (or 30m, depending on drone features) away from people or outside urban areas 2
A3 – outside urban areas Class 2, 3, 4 identification label
Privately built drone with MTOM < 25 kg and a flight speed < 19 m/s
Unclassified drone with MTOM < 25 kg including fuel and payload. From January 1, 2023

In short, in subcategory A1 you can fly the drone over people, but not over crowds, in subcategory A2 you fly close to people, and in subcategory A3, you fly away from people.

All information presented in the article so far applies until December 31, 2023.

What happens from January 1, 2024?

From 1 January 2024, operations in the open category must be conducted with a drone:

  • bearing an identification tag of class C0 to C4 or;
  • being privately built, or;
  • even without a class identification label, but only if it is placed on the market before 31 December 2023.
Open category, regulations applicable from 1 January 2024
Operation The drone operator/pilot
C Class Maximum take off mass (MTOM) Subcategory Operational Restrictions Is drone operator registration required? Remote pilot qualifications Minimum age of remote pilot
Privately built < 250 g A1 – Does not fly over crowds of people (may also fly in subcategory A3) Operational restrictions on the use of drones apply Yes (no registration required if the drone is a toy or not equipped with a camera/sensor) Read the user manual No minimum age (conditions apply)
Legacy < 250 g
C1 < 900 g Yes You can find the required qualifications here. 16
C2 < 4 kg A2 – Flies close to humans (can also fly in A3)
C3 < 25 kg A3 – Fly away from people
Privately built
Legacy drones

There are already class-labeled drones on the market, such as the DJI Mini 2 SE, DJI Mini 3, Mini 3 Pro, Mini 4 Pro Fly More Combo, Trinity F90+, WingtraOne, SENSEFLY eBee, and others.

Important! If you want to purchase a drone with a class label, be careful that this label appears on the drone. Several versions of the same drone are marketed, both with and without tags.

Among the class tag drones are DJI’s Mavic 3 ES series and DJI’s Matrice 30 series. If you own such a drone, you can get the tag in a very simple way.

Image sources: image 1, image 2 and cover image. EASA image source.