On 15th April, DJI launched our new benchmark drone for capturing incredible imagery with the new DJI Air 2S. The drone has excited many people from content creators to drone enthusiasts and travelers, however one question being asked is: 'Where is the class identification label?'
The requirement for a 'class identification label' is part of the new European Drone Regulations laid out by the European Commission and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) which came into force on 31st December 2020. This move was welcomed by DJI and has paved the way for an era of harmonization across the 27 EU Member States as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
The new European Drone Regulations adopt a risk-based approach, and as such, do not distinguish between leisure or commercial activities. They take into account the weight and specifications of the drone and the operation it is intended to undertake. There are three categories, namely the 'Open Category', the 'Specific Category' and the 'Certified Category'. If you'd like to know more about these, take a look at EASA's detailed FAQ here.
DJI consumer products, such as the new Air 2S, are primarily used in the 'Open Category' in which newly introduced 'drone class identification labelling' of one of the related classes C0-C4 is mandatory.
If it's mandatory, then where's the label?
As of the publishing date of this article, the standards have not yet been finalized by the regulatory authorities but are under development with active involvement of DJI and others in the drone community. Once the standards have been confirmed and so-called notified bodies are in place, we will publish a list on our website that shows which products will be included in class identification labelling, if possible.
Currently, all DJI drones can be used in the Open Limited Category with certain restrictions until 31st December, 2022 and beyond. You can find an overview of DJI products being used in this category here.
We are aware that the current situation has led to many uncertainties amongst users when it comes to compliance of DJI drones with the new European Drone Regulations and class identification labels. Rest assured this issue is of the utmost importance to us, and we hope to resolve it as quickly as is feasibly possible.
In order to help you, and address the many questions that have been posed by existing and potential customers, we have created the following FAQ .
Q: What is drone class identification labelling all about and how does it differ from CE marking?
The letters “CE” (the so-called “CE mark”) appear on all DJI drones sold on the extended Single Market in the European Economic Area (EEA). They signify that our drones - like many other products - have been assessed to meet high safety, health and environmental protection requirements.
In addition to the CE Mark, the new European Drone Regulations require that drones obtain new drone class identification labels based on different mandatory safety requirements. In short: the class identification labels define which types of drones (categorized by weight and technical specifications), can be flown in which type of environment:
A1: fly over people but not over assemblies of people (Class C0 and C1);
A2: fly close to people (Class C0, C1 and C2);
A3: fly far from people (Class C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4).
It is important to mention that the standards for drone class identification labels are still under development by regulatory authorities with active involvement of DJI but have not been finalized yet. Theoretically, UAS manufacturers can work with so-called notified bodies and verify that the product falls under one of the different drone identification classes. However, these notified bodies have not been certified by EU authorities yet. Even though DJI participates in advising on the standards and is working with potential notified body candidates, the final call is being made by regulatory authorities, and this is outside DJI’s control.
Q: Can I fly my drone without a drone class identification label?
This particular issue is clearly addressed by article 22 of EU regulation 2019/947. This stipulates that there is a transition period for drones without drone class identification labels. They can continue to be flown in the so-called ‘Open Limited Category’ with certain restrictions until 31st December 2022 and beyond. You can find an overview of DJI products being used in the Open Limited Category here.
We encourage users to assess in which category their drone and intended flight belongs and follow associated rules and regulations.
Q: Will DJI drones, such as DJI Air 2S, receive a drone class identification label?
Once the standards have been confirmed by the regulatory authorities and notified bodies are in place, we will publish a list on our website that shows which products will be included in drone class identification labelling, if possible.
DJI has been participating in the discussion of these standards since 2016, and our engineers have considered their implications in the design of our products to try and meet future requirements.
Q: How will DJI know whether its products are compliant with the new regulatory framework?
For pre-evaluation of what needs to be done from our side, we are working with a technical inspection body that provides product certification services. This technical inspection body needs to be confirmed as a ‘notified body’ for final class identification labelling before we can progress. This is outside DJI’s control.
Q: What happens if you do not have a drone class identification label after 31 December 2022?
Any products without drone class identification label can still be used in the Open Category after the transition period (from 31 December 2022 onwards), but only in the most restricted subcategory A3 (away from people) unless they weigh less than 250 g. More information on how drones without class identification labels are able to continue to be flown in the Open Limited Category can be found in the EASA FAQ: https://www.easa.europa.eu/faq/116508.
Q: Does my drone need to have a class identification label in order to operate commercially?
The new EU regulation does not distinguish between private and commercial drone usage in the Open Category. Drones without class identification labels can still be used commercially until 31st December 2022 but with some operational limitations. They can also be used after the transition period (from 31st December 2022 onwards) but only in the most restricted subcategory A3 (away from people) unless they weigh less than 250g1.
More information on how drones without class identification labels are able to continue to be flown in the Open Limited Category can be found on the EASA FAQ: https://www.easa.europa.eu/faq/116508.
1In all cases DJI drones can be used without a class identification label in the Specific Category after obtaining relevant operational approvals.