Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Switzerland to adopt EU drone regulations

On 24 November 2022, the Joint Committee of the Bilateral Air Transport Agreement between Switzerland and the European Union endorsed Switzerland’s adoption of EU regulations on drones as well as various community acts. From January 1, 2023 remote pilots will be subject to new rules. For the Swiss drone industry, having a harmonized legal framework with Europe will be an advantage. The Federal Council has approved the reinstatement of these provisions.

Mutual recognition of certificates

Within the framework of the bilateral air transport agreement, Switzerland and the EU are harmonizing their regulations relating to the international aviation sector through a joint committee. The Joint Committee has determined that the regulatory framework applicable to unmanned aircraft (drones, model aircraft and other such devices) already in force in the EU will enter into force in Switzerland on January 1, 2023.

European regulations set safety standards for the manufacture, certification and operation of drones. From now on, the exploitation of drones will be classified according to the level of risk of the operation in three categories: “open”, “specific” or “certified”. Any remote pilot wishing to operate a drone in the “open” category must have a certificate obtained after training and an examination. The adopted legislation provides for the mutual recognition of certificates in the EU and in Switzerland.

Improved protection

Additionally, new maximum flight heights, weight limits and geographic restrictions apply. To address public concerns, environmental protection, privacy and security requirements have been introduced.

Switzerland will also apply the European regulations relating to U-space. A set of digital and automated functions and processes can therefore be implemented in a defined airspace. U-space aims to integrate the growing traffic of civilian drones by guaranteeing harmonious cohabitation with traditional aircraft. Pilots will therefore benefit from a better overview of the traffic situation.

The joint committee endorsed several changes to existing regulations. Airport slot rules have been changed. This is to clarify, in the context of COVID, the claims of the airlines on the slots of the next scheduling period. In addition, the fuel calculation requirements have been adapted to allow the integration of new energy sources. Finally, administrative streamlining authorizes several air carriers belonging to the same group to collectively request an authorization to carry out maintenance tasks on aircraft (CAMO).

Entry into force

OFAC director Christian Hegner signed the decision of the joint committee for Switzerland. The Federal Council approved the resumption of these provisions during its meeting of November 9, 2022. The new provisions of the agreement will enter into force on January 1, 2023.

Wiebe de Jager

Wiebe de Jager is the founder of Dronewatch (available in Dutch and English). Wiebe is an experienced drone pilot (EASA Specific category certified) and has published a number of bestselling books about drone photography and cinematography.

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