Drones weighing less than 250 grams threatened by new regulations

The regulations around drones are a complex jungle, which could become even more complicated after the application of new European regulations affecting devices weighing less than 250 grams.

Drones under 250 grams, like DJI’s popular Mavic Mini and Mini 2, are currently classified under the A1 Limited subcategory. Until December 31, 2022, nothing changes for these models which can fly close to people, fly over buildings, and also fly over people if it is unintentional and if the flight is quickly interrupted.

The hope of a postponement

It is from January 1, 2023 that things will get tough. Drones without CE marking with indication of class, as is the case with the two models already mentioned, will be placed in the A1 subcategory (for those which were marketed before January 1, 2023). They should therefore retain their prerogatives, except that the European regulations introduce a subtlety: the maximum take-off weight.

If the maximum take-off weight of drones exceeds 250 grams, then they are subject to much more drastic conditions: they have to fly far from people and more than 150 meters from buildings, which greatly reduces their interest. The problem is that once equipped with accessories (propeller guards, adapters, etc.), these devices can weigh heavier than this limit.

However, there is a little hope. The text could be amended by the Commission to allow these drones to continue to benefit from greater flexibility in flyable areas. In addition, a one-year postponement of the implementation of the regulations is in the pipeline, which will give an appreciable delay for the adoption of the text and also for the users of these devices. Still, these decisions remain to be made: we will know more next year.

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