The new European drone regulations, which will change in 2021

In the previous article, we told you about the change in regulations from the start of 2021 regarding the registration of European drones with the DGAC on the AlphaTango site. In today’s article, we deal in more detail with the operational impacts of the regulatory transition on the activity of drone operators, which will be applicable from January 2021 for any professional drone remote pilot or drone operator.

Drone regulatory changes that will be applicable from January 1, 2021

1. Some operational scenarios are deleted, others are modified. Scenarios S1, S2, S3 are maintained but their operational framework is changing: the maximum flight height authorized without exemption goes from 150 meters to 120 meters (in order to align with European drone regulations). Scenario S4 (flight out of sight with no horizontal distance limit) is deleted. Any operator using this type of operational scenario in the context of one of its specific activities will switch from the start of 2021 to an authorization regime. Normally, the DGAC has already contacted all the drone operators concerned.

2. Registration as a European UAS operator on AlphaTango becomes compulsory for any owner of a drone over 250 grams. From December 31, 2020 at midnight, any drone remote pilot will have to register as a European operator of unmanned aircraft on board (UAS) with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) on the AlphaTango portal.

3. A whole new range of forms will be made available to the operator by the DGAC on the website of the Ministry of Ecological Transition from December 31, 2020. These include the use of your new UAS operator number. European to be affixed to your aircraft. It is also expected that the RETEX forms will change. We will monitor for upcoming changes and keep you informed.

4. The MAP (special activities manual) is replaced by the MANEX (operations manual). For new operators, a new grid will be made available from 01/01/2021. For existing operators, the MAPs are automatically converted into MANEX but the operator will have to update this document during the year 2021. (especially when he begins to use the STS-1 and STS-2 operational scenarios).


The new European drone regulations applicable from January 1, 2021, more details :

Reminder of the objectives pursued by the committee

The European Commission published on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, two European regulations regarding the safety of unmanned aircraft :

This new European drone regulation aims to promote the emergence of a European market for the drone sector by gradually replacing the national regulations developed for each country of the European community. However, states have reserved the right to retain certain national provisions on security and the fight against malicious use of unmanned aircraft.

The European provisions relating to the use of an unmanned aircraft on board should gradually apply from January 2021.

Reminder of the role of the civilian drone council

The practical modalities of the transition (passage from the European regulation to the national decree) are drawn up in consultation with the professional and leisure sectors concerned. To this end, the DGAC has created a body, the civil drones council, which meets regularly and contributes (through a critical review and suggestions) to defining regulations that can be applicable from an operational point of view (back business of operators and builders).

State of play of the implementation of this work

1. Following the COVID-19 crisis, the DSAC has decided to postpone by 6 months all the transition dates of Regulation (EU) 2019/947 concerning the rules and procedures applicable to the operation of UAS drones.

2. An important step was taken for the new drone regulation in Europe on December 3, 2020. Indeed, the publication of the national decrees for the European UAS transition took place on December 3, 2020. Here are the decrees published below:

  • Order TREA2017575A relating to the use of airspace by aircraft without crew on board. Here is the link to the TREA2017575A decree on the site.
  • Order TREA2025056A relating to the operation of model aircraft within model aircraft associations in application of implementing regulation (EU) 2019/947. Here is the link to the official page for the TREA2025056A.
  • Order TREA2025058A relating to the requirements applicable to remote pilots in the context of operations falling within the “open” category. Consult the legifrance page for order TREA2025058A.
  • Order TREA2025060A relating to the transitional arrangements for recognition of the training and titles of remote pilots. Visit the legifrance website about this TREA2025060A decree to find out more.
  • Order TREA2025061A relating to the definition of national standard scenarios and setting the conditions applicable to the missions of unmanned civil aircraft on board excluded from the scope of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139. Visit the official page of TREA2025061A.
  • Order TREA2025063A of 3 December 2020 relating to the requirements applicable to operations carried out on certain captive aircraft referred to in Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 concerning common rules in the field of civil aviation and establishing a European Union Aviation Safety Agency. Find all the information on the legifrance website page for the TREA2025063A.

All these decrees come into force on December 31, 2020, at the same time as the European drone regulations and on this same date repeal our two historic Aircraft and Airspace decrees of December 17, 2015. We will keep you informed of any update or change. of these official documents.

3. The work and developments are still far from being completed. The DGAC is still in discussion with the European Commission to clarify several points which will allow it to transcribe European regulations (defined in order to harmonize all national regulations) into national decrees which define the French law in force (while respecting its own national constraints). Among the many subjects still under discussion, we can cite: (i) Work around the new European standard scenarios STS-01 and STS-02 (regulation (EU) 2019/9), the new classes of drones of type C5, C6 (regulation (EU) 2019/945), the harmonization of the format of aeronautical charts (which will allow a drone to easily fly anywhere in Europe), etc.


Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information.

We inform you here that our managing specific drone activities software GESTADRONE takes and will take into account all these regulatory or legislative changes or those to come.