Model aircraft

The aeromodeller community has been looking for some clarifications as to how the recent EU UAS Regulation should be understood by aeromodellers in Europe who are concerned that drones could pose a threat to their hobby.

Natale Di Rubbo is the UAS project manager at EASA, who, since 2016, has been leading the working group that developed the new EU Regulation on UAS. Natale and the team are currently developing procedures that will support the implementation of the Regulation. We asked him a few questions to understand what the Regulation means for modellers.

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Does the new EU Regulation on drones also apply to model aircraft?

Why have model aircraft been considered the same as drones?

What distinguishes a model aircraft from a drone?

In some specialised forums we see some discussions on the applicability date of the EU Regulation on drones. Can you confirm that it has been in force since December 31, 2020? Are you aware of any EASA Member States requesting a postponement of the application of the Regulation?

You mentioned that the Member States have the power to identify designated areas for the purpose of aeromodelling where drone and model aircraft operations are exempt from some of the ‘open’ category requirements. What are the advantages/disadvantages of this ‘option’?

EASA’s Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 (as the name indicates) is the top-level regulation that defines the main scope of EASA’s functions and its limits in terms of delegation provided by the European Commission. On this basis, the EU UAS Regulation states in the recitals: ‘(27) Since model aircraft are considered as UAS and given the good safety level demonstrated by model aircraft operations in clubs and associations, there should be a seamless transition from the different national systems to the new Union regulatory framework, so that model aircraft clubs and associations can continue to operate as they do today, as well as taking into account existing best practices in the Member States’. Has this indication been taken into account? If so, how?

Regarding Article 16 (authorisations to model aircraft clubs and associations), is it in the ‘spirit’ of the Regulation to have ‘few and concentrated’ clubs/associations or to facilitate clubs/associations distributed throughout the national territory to access this ‘authorisation'?

In what ways may the requirements for an Article 16 authorisation differ from those for the ‘open’ category?

Are control line (circular tethered) flights within the scope of the EU UAS Regulation? What about tethered and non-tethered free-flight aircraft?

According to the EU UAS Regulation, States ‘may’ issue national regulations for allowing for model aircraft operations. Can the ‘national’ Regulation be in contraposition with the ‘European’ Regulation?

Can we ‘Sunday aeromodellers’ report/suggest changes to the Regulation? Who should we contact?

If you have further questions or any comments on this article, or even if you would like to know more about anything you have read here, please send an email to: drones [at]