Operational Requirements for the use of Drones in Malta
- The EASA Regulations governing the use of drones, namely Commission Delegated Regulation (EU)2019/945 and Commission Implementing Regulation (EU)2019/947, will become applicable on 31st December 2020.
- Malta, like all other EASA Member States, is adopting these EASA regulations.
- A summary of the above mentioned regulations may be found here.
- EASA has also printed FAQs to assist drone users with any questions they may have; these are available on: https://www.easa.europa.eu/the-agency/faqs/drones-uas. Any other questions should be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For guidance on use of the IDRONECT portal, please refer to the user guide.
- This EASA regulation mandates the registration of UAS Operators i.e. owners of the drone.
- The only cases where registration of the UAS operator is not required are:
- If the drone is labelled as a toy i.e. (toy directive 2009/48/EC)
- If the drone weighs 250g and does not have a camera. Therefore, Drone Operators owning a mavic mini, which weighs 249g, still need to register as this drone is equipped with a camera.
- Registration is done on tmcad.idronect.com, to obtain a UAS Operator Registration Number together with a UAS Operator Certificate.
- The UAS Operator Registration Number or corresponding QR-code should be printed and affixed to the drones owned by the Drone Operator.
- It should be noted that Law Enforcement Officers may conduct checks and ask the Drone Operator to demonstrate that they hold a valid UAS Operator Registration Number and that it is affixed to the drone; and any breaches will incur a penalty.
- Registration on this system is free until 31st December 2020, and thereafter renewable annually against a fee of 25.
Remote Pilot Licensing
EASA Regulation also mandates the licensing of remote pilots, for drones of classes C1-C4.
- This requires completing online training, followed by an online multiple choice test which is done at TM-CAD offices in Lija.
- The training and tests will be available within the coming weeks and will be announced accordingly.
- Upon completion of the training, a candidate may apply to sit for the test.
- Upon passing the test, the candidate is presented with a remote pilot certificate of competency (license) including a remote pilot number.
- Remote pilot licenses are renewable every 5 years.
- All drone operators operating their drone in Malta need to have a valid third party insurance, irrespective of the weight of the drone, and/or the type of operation (recreational or commercial).
- This is due to the type of airspace in Malta, all of it being controlled.
- Any valid insurance from any insurance provider is acceptable.
- Flight requests should be submitted online at tmcad.idronect.com, specifying the flight parameters including date, time, location, drone etc. This system allows you to see the weather forecast, flight zones which are restricted, integrate NOTAMs, etc.
- Flights which are low risk and comply with certain pre-defined parameters are authorised automatically, so the Authorisation Form can be downloaded and/or printed immediately.
- Such flights do not exceed the maximum altitude of 60m, do not infringe any no-fly-zones indicated on the map, and are not carried out before half an hour before sunrise and after half an hour after sunset.
- Flights which are not authorised automatically require a risk assessment to be submitted to TM-CAD on email@example.com, at least five working days before commencement of the operation.
- It should also be noted that Law Enforcement Officers may also conduct checks to see that drone flights are being conducted as per the parameters in the Authorisation Form, and any breaches of the parameters may also incur a penalty.
- In the case of model aircraft, if the model aircraft club/association has an authorization from TM-CAD, then the club may register itself and all its members will be associated with that registration.
- Otherwise, members of the club are required to register themselves individually on tmcad.idronect.com.
- If the model aircraft flights will only be conducted within the Ta Qali/Ħal Far bubble, for which the club members are already insured, then there is no need for additional insurance. On the other hand, a valid third party insurance will be required for any model aircraft flights outside of these bubble.
Drone Racing and Flying Drones with Goggles (FPV)
- EASA regulations do not distinguish between FPV drones and normal drones for the purposes of registration.
- FPV flights may be conducted in the open category without keeping direct eye contact with the drone, provided that the remote pilot is accompanied by a UA observer who keeps direct visual contact with the drone, and who will immediately communicate with the remote pilot to take action accordingly if required. (Article 4(d) of EU Regulation 2019/947)
- Normally drone races are organised by clubs and associations, which may hold operational authorisations from the NAA covering the organisation of such events.
- Drone races not within a club or association and with no spectators (uninvolved persons) fall under the open category and can operate under subcategory A3.
- If there are spectators, the operation falls into the specific category and an authorisation from the National Aviation Authority is required.
Permits are issued on the following conditions:
- Drone operators and pilots should be aware that the collection of images of identifiable individuals, even inadvertently, when using cameras mounted on small drones, may be subject to the Data Protection Act.
- Drone operators must be aware of their responsibilities regarding operations from private land and any requirements to obtain the appropriate permission before operating from a particular site. In particular, they must ensure that they observe the relevant trespass laws and do not unwittingly commit a trespass whilst conducting a flight.
- The CAD does not regulate airspace which falls within the confines (highest obstacle on the premises and lateral boundaries) of private property.
- It is recommended however that operators operating within the confines of private property for the purposes of filming seek consent from the adjacent neighbouring houses by means of a written no objection from their end in order to protect operators from the data protection act which does not fall under CADs authority
- Manned Aviation shall have priority over any drone operation.
- Rules of the Air shall also apply with other drones in the vicinity as potentially more than one drone operator may be operating in the same area at the same time.
- A submitted self-declaration or a permit of operation issued by this Authority with the pre-set written conditions are without prejudice to all other applicable laws and regulations and compliance.
- Permit to fly cannot be construed as a permit to film individuals or property without consent or to transport items by drone.
- Drone operators must be reachable on the mobile number provided throughout the drone operation, and must ensure that their mobile phone is charged.
Guidance for conducting the Risk Assessment
Initially a generic overview and scope of the intended operation using a simple overlay of the area (using such a tool like Google maps) including the exact points of launching and landing (Latitude and Longitude) of the drone within this operational area
- Type of drone (or drones) to be used
- Submission of technical data or manual of instructions of each drone to be used
- Submission of any flight safety programmes or operations manual that the operator may have
- Submission of any previous authorisations from any other civil aviation authority or exemptions (if available)
- Submission of details of the operator (company) and proficiency (experience) of the drone pilots
- Copy of the original signed insurance document for third party liability covering the scope and complexity of the requested operation covering the specific geographical areas/limits for such operation
- Submission of a risk assessment identifying hazards and the mitigations to be put in place on how to protect aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and property.