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The European Open drone category explained

DJI Mavic 3

The Open Category is a classification system for drone operations within the European Union (EU), established by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It is designed to provide a framework for operating drones in a simplified and standardized manner, with specific limitations and requirements based on the risk level of the operation.

The Open Category is divided into three subcategories: A1, A2, and A3. Each subcategory has its own set of operational limitations and requirements:

  1. A1 Subcategory: This subcategory is for small drones considered to pose the lowest risk. Drones in this category must have a maximum takeoff weight of 250 grams and can be flown in close proximity to people, but not over crowds. No specific pilot qualification is required, but operators must follow certain operational limitations.

  2. A2 Subcategory: The A2 subcategory is for drones that are considered to pose a medium risk. Drones in this category have specific requirements regarding distance to people and built-up areas. To operate a drone in the A2 subcategory, pilots must hold an A2 Certificate of Competency (A2 CofC). The A2 CofC can be obtained by passing a theoretical knowledge examination and provides more flexibility in terms of operational conditions compared to the A1 subcategory.

  3. A3 Subcategory: Drones in the A3 subcategory are considered to pose a higher risk. They have specific limitations regarding distance to uninvolved people and should not be flown over crowds. No specific pilot qualification is required, but operators must follow certain operational limitations.

It's important to note that the specific requirements and regulations within the Open Category may vary slightly between EU member states, as individual countries have the flexibility to implement additional operational rules or adapt the framework to their specific needs.