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IAA Approved

Open Category - A2

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Description
This course covers the minimum training a pilot wishing to fly in sub-category A2 of the EU Open Category.  The course includes all the requisite knowledge required for EU & Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) certification. This legally permits a Remote Pilot with a drone weighing 500g to 2kg fly as close as 50m from 'uninvolved persons', or as close as 30m for those using EU Class C2 drones. Certification is 5 years. 

What's Included
Online Content
Live Instructor-Led Webinar
Beautifully Presented Lessons
Fully Compliant EU Syllabus
Practical Training Guides
Online Community
Online Exam

Part 1 - General Procedures in the Open Category is taken in your own time and online. Duration 60mins. At the end, choose your date for Part 2. 

Part 2 - Live webinar covering Meteorology, UAS Performance and Ground Risk Mitigations. Duration 2 hours. Also included is the mandatory multiple choice exam and self-practical training declaration. You book on your preferred course date at the end of Part 1. Booking is completed using our online booking portal contained within the online course.   See Part 2 Live-Webinar course dates below. 

Note: Following completion of your course, Safe Drone Academy confirms your competency to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). Only the IAA can issue your regulatory pilot certificate. The IAA fee for issuing the Open A2 'Certificate of Competency' is €45. This certificate is valid EU wide and valid for 5 years from date of issue. Legally, UAS operators must also register with the IAA. Registration fee is €18 per year. 



Ultimate Course for the Open A2 Category

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Part 2 - Live Webinar Dates
Tue. 02nd Feb 1800. 
Tue. 09th Mar. 1800. 
Fri. 19th Mar. 1000. 

What's included?

12 Short Videos

1 Live Webinar

30 Multi-Choice Qs

5 Year Certification 

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Open Category Operations 

The Open Category is an EU category of drone operation that allows pilots fly low risk operations in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) below 120m (400ft) above the closest point of the surface. This course qualification allows you fly in the A2 category anywhere in the EU. 

Our Guarantee

 With this course Safe Drone Academy continue their renowned teaching methodology, making complex UAS and drone theory and procedures easy to understand. 

Frequently asked questions

What does the course involve?  


The course is a series of well presented and clear videos where we explain the basic EU drone rules as they apply to the A1 A3 and additionally the A2 sub-category of the Open Category. You complete the course online and at your own pace. We provide support and help with questions and queries through hello@safedrone.ie or on +353870919600.

The A2 sub-category is the most advanced training course in the Open category allowing pilots fly in the A1 A2 & A3 sub-categories. The A2 category is an important and useful sub-category as it allows qualified pilots fly slightly heavier drones (max 2kg) near people. The weight of these drones means 'uninvolved persons' are at a high risk of danger when these drone are flown close to them. Therefore, to mitigate this increased risk, regulations require more advanced training for the A2 sub-category. 


The duration of the course is approximately 3 hours. 

The course complies with the requirements of Regulation (EU) 2019/947

The course is broken down into short lessons. Once you complete a lesson, you can save your progress and return to complete the course later. 

There is a regulatory requirement to have an exam. To help, we have a short and simple question session after each lesson. The answers are all contained in the subject matter of the video lessons. 

Once your course is complete, you qualify for an EU 'certificate of competency' in the Open A2 category. On Safe Drone Academy's recommendation, this certificate is issued to you by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). This 'certificate of competency' is valid for the A2 Open Category operations across the wider EU. 

What are the Open, Specific and Certified Categories?

EU regulation divides drone operations into 3 main categories. The Open Category is for low risk operations. The Specific Category is for medium to high risk operations. The Certified Category is for the highest risk operations. 

Depending on the risk your flying poses to those around you, a pilot will need to train to operate in one of the 3 categories. The higher the risk the more training the pilot requires. 

The Open category is further divided into sub-categories A1, A2 and A3. This course covers pilot training requirements for Open sub-categories A1 A2 & A3.  


How do I determine which category I fall under: Open, Specific or Certified? 

A drone can be operated in the “Open" category when it: 

  • bears one of the CE class marks 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Note: not currently available on the market);

or
  • is privately built and with a max take-off weight of <25kg; 

or
  • it is purchased before the 1st of January 2023, with no CE class marking with a max take-off weight of <25kg; 


 and


  • will not be operated directly over 'uninvolved persons', unless it bears a CE class mark '0' or is lighter than 250g. (Please refer to subcategories of operations: A1, A2 and A3 to find out where you can fly with your drone).
  • will never be flown over 'assemblies of people' (see FAQ further down for definition).
  • will be maintained in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) or be assisted by a UA observer;
  • is flown at no more than 120 metres above the closest point of the surface;
  • will not carry dangerous goods and not drop any material. 
  • remains outside the required 'geographic area'. See Safe Drone Airspace Map (Airspace Map). Also, see additional FAQ



In all other cases it must be operated in the Specific or Certified category.

Which Sub-Category (A1, A2 or A3) of the Open Category do I fly in?  


The sub-category a pilot is required to fly in is determined either by,

• the label affixed to your drone (CE class mark 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4);
or

• the weight of your drone, for privately built drone and for a drone without a CE Class markings (called legacy drones);

Note: Currently there are no drones on the market that have a CE  Class (0-4) marking/sticker. Until such time as there are drones with CE Class markings are available, the weight of your drone will determine what sub-category of the Open category you can fly in. (Note: by regulation all drones placed on the market after 01 Jan 2023 must have a CE Class marking). 


See table below. Depending on the weight of your legacy drone you are required to maintain certain horizontal distances from uninvolved people to reduce the risk of injury to them in case you lose control of your drone. If you find any of these restrictions too limiting for your proposed flying requirements, you need to move into the Specific Category.


Sub-Category Drone Max Take-Off Weight Restrictions Example Drone




All
-Max Height 120m agl
-Visual Line of Sight (VLOS)
-No Dropping Goods
-No Carrying Danger Goods
-Outside specific 'geographic areas'





A1 <250g & Max Speed 19ms -Fly over 'uninvolved persons'
-No fly over 'assemblies of people'
DJI Mavic Mini





250g - <500g -No intentional flight over 'uninvolved persons'
-No fly over 'assemblies of people'
DJI Spark




A2 500g - <2kg -No closer than 50m horizontally from 'uninvolved persons'
-No fly over 'assemblies of people'
DJI Mavic Air
DJI Mavic Pro
DJi Mavic 2
DJI Phantom




A3 2kg - <25kg -No 'uninvolved persons' present within the flying area.
-Flying area must not be within 150m horizontally from residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.
DJI Inspire
DJI Matrice

Note 1: After 01 Jan 2023 all drones greater than 250g will be restricted to the A3 category. 

Note 2: In time and in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2019/945, CE class 0-4 drones will enter the market. 
CE Class 0 drones will be valid in A1
CE Class 1 drones will be valid in A1 with the same restriction as a 250g - <500g 
CE Class 2 drones will be valid in A2
CE Class 3 drones will be valid in A3
CE Class 4 drones will be valid in A3 

What am I allowed do when flying in the Open A2 Category?   

Flight Restrictions.


  • you must remain in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) with your drone at all times.
  • you must not fly higher than 120m above the closest point of the surface of the earth.
  • you must not drop any goods from your drone.
  • you must not carry any 'dangerous goods'.
  • you are restricted from operating in many 'geographic areas". See Safe Drone Airspace Map (Airspace Map).




Drone Restrictions.


  • if your drone has a max take-off weight below 250g you may fly over 'uninvolved persons' but not over 'assemblies of people'.



  • if your drone has a max take-off weight between 250g and less than 500g you may fly close to 'uninvolved persons' but not overhead them. You must not fly overhead 'assemblies of people'.



  • If your drone has a max take-off weight above 500g and less than 2kgs you have two options you must remain 50m horizontally from 'uninvolved persons' and 'assemblies of people'.


  • If your drone has a max take-off weight above 2kgs you cannot fly in the A2 sub-category. You are restricted to operating in the A3 sub-category. This course also covers your training requirements to operate in the A3 sub-category. 

    Open A3 requirements.
  • There must be no 'uninvolved persons' or 'assemblies of people' anywhere in your flying area.
  • Your flying area must be 150m horizontally from residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas.


Note: The Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW) includes the weight of the drone, payload (camera etc), fuel (battery etc) and any attachments. 


If you find any of the restrictions too limiting for what you need to do, you need a permission to fly in the Specific Category.

How long is my 'certificate of competency' valid for?  

The A2 'certificate of competency' is valid for 5 years. 

How do I re-validate my A2 'certificate of competency'?  

In accordance with Regulation (EU) 2019/947 UAS.Open.070, there are two scenarios,

Scenario 1: Re-validation before  the expiry date of my A2 'certificate of competency':

• Take the online refresher course.

or

• Take the online multiple choice exam.

Scenario 2: Re-validation after  the expiry date of my A2 'certificate of competency':

• Take the online refresher course.

and

• Take the online multiple choice exam.

I only fly for fun and recreation. Do I need to train?  

Yes.

Under the new EU regulation, whether you want to fly for recreational, commercial or aerial work or research purposes, there is now a regulatory requirement for pilots to complete a minimum amount of training depending on the category of operation they wish to fly in.

Can I fly wherever I like when operating in the Open Category? 

No. 


There are strict restrictions on where you can fly if you are only qualified to fly in the Open Category. You can check out Safe Drone Academy's airspace map to find the 'geographic areas' that Open category pilots must remain clear of, or are severely restricted when operating within them (e.g. max height 15m). If you need to fly in these areas you need a permission to fly in the Specific Category

Click for Airspace Map.

What happens after I complete the course?  

You will need to open a 'remote pilot' account with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) (www.mysrs.ie).

As an IAA Designated Unmanned Training Organisation (DUTO), Safe Drone Academy will have authorised access to the training portal of your account and within this portal we will certify you have completed your training and passed the required exam.

You should note, you may also need to register as an 'operator'. See FAQ on who needs to register.

Does this course allow me fly in other EU member states? 


Yes, within the limits of the A1 A2 & A3 category.

The 'certificate of competency'  a pilot receives on completion of this course is valid in all EU members states. It will allow you fly within the A1 A2 & A3 restrictions and in the 'geographic areas' each member states permits A1 A2 & A3 category flying. You will need to check local aviation resources to identify these areas. In Ireland, you can check Safe Drone Academy's Airspace Map

There is no requirement to advise the aviation authority of the EU member state you are flying in that you will be flying A1 A2 & A3 operations in their country. However, you are required to produce your 'certificate of competency' and indeed the 'operator registration number' if asked by an autorised person of the EU member state. This is very much like producing your drivers licence when driving abroad.

I have to stay away from an 'uninvolved person'. Who are they?   

Defined by regulation, an uninvolved person "means persons who are not participating in the UAS operation or who are not aware of the instructions and safety precautions given by the UAS (drone) operator”.

A person is considered 'involved' if they decides to be a part of the operation, understand the risk and is able to check the position of the drone while it is flying.

Therefore in order to be considered ‘involved’ in the operation, a person needs to:

  • receive from the drone operator/remote pilot instructions and safety precautions to be applied in case of an emergency situation;

  • give consent to be a part of the operation (e.g. a consent to be overflown by the drone); the consent needs to be explicit;

  • not be busy with other activities such that the person cannot check the position of the drone and, in case of incident take action to avoid being hit by the drone.


Writing on a ticket that during an event a drone will be used, is not considered sufficient, since the drone operator needs to receive individual explicit consent and make sure people understand the risk and the procedures to be taken in case of emergency.

During the operation it is expected that involved persons follow the trajectory of the drone and are ready to take action to protect themselves in case the drone has an unexpected behavior.

During the UAS operation, if people are too busy to monitor the trajectory of the drone, then these people cannot be considered as involved.

Examples of uninvolved person:

  • individuals or small groups walking on a street;
  • people in a beach or in a park.

An uninvolved person is not only those exposed directly to a drone, but could also mean a person who is in a bus, car, etc., i.e. is indirectly exposed.

For example, if a drone is flying over a vehicle, its driver should be considered as an ‘uninvolved person’. The reason behind this is, if a drone is flying close to a vehicle (even if not impacting it) it could possibly distract its driver and therefore lead to a car accident.

What is an 'assembly of people'?  

An 'assembly of people' is referred to as a crowd. It is not defined by a specific number of people, but is related to the ability for an individual to move around in order to avoid a drone which is out of control.

If a crowd or gathering of people is so densely packed that the possibility to freely escape or move away from a drone is limited. The density of people reduces their ability to move quickly and so is considered an 'assembly of people'.

Note: No drone should be flown over or near an 'assembly of people' without specific permission from aviation authorities and only after a special safety case is made. Contact Safe Drone Academy to acquire such permission.
  

Examples of 'assemblies of people' include:

  • sport, cultural, religious or political events;
  • crowded beaches or parks on a sunny day;
  • busy commercial streets during the opening hours of the shops; 

Do I need to register?  


Drones do not need to be registered but you, as a drone operator/owner, must register yourself or your business. You do so with the Aviation Authority of the EU country you have a residence in. Registration is required under Atricle 14 of Regulation (EU) 2019/947.

You register once, independently of how many drones you operate or whether you operate in the Open or Specific category. Your registration will be valid for a period defined by your national Aviation Authority after which you need to renew it. In Ireland, registration is valid for two (2) years.

See FAQ 'Who is a drone operator' for detailed explanation as to who an operator is.

You do not need to register yourself if your drone(s):

  • weighs less than 250g and has no camera or other sensor able to detect personal data; or
  • even with a camera or other sensor, weighs less than 250g, but is a toy (this means that its documentation shows that it complies with ‘toy’ Directive 2009/48/EC);

Operator registration can be completed on the IAAs website www.mysrs.ie.

When you register you will receive an individual 'Operator Registration Number'. This number must be displayed on every drone you as an operator utilise (own or lease/rent). The number must be easily readable and may take the form of a QR code. Affixing the label to the inside of a battery compartment is also acceptable where it cannot be clearly displayed externally.

Who is a drone operator?  

A drone operator is any natural person or an organisation, who/that owns the drone(s) or rents/leases the drone(s).

You can be both a drone operator and a remote pilot if you are also the person that actually flies the drone. In this case you should register as an Operator.

However, it can be the case where you are the remote pilot without being a drone operator. For example, if you are a remote pilot working for a company which provide services with drones. Here, the company is the drone operator and you are the remote pilot. The company needs to register as a drone operator. You, the remote pilot, need to complete the minimum amount of training in the category you will fly. Like an airline operator, a drone operator can have many remote pilots flying for them.

If you bought a drone to fly it in your leisure time, you are both the drone operator and the remote pilot. You must register as a drone operator.

If you bought a drone to give away as a gift, the person who will receive the gift and then fly the drone will be the drone operator and the remote pilot.

Who is the remote pilot? 

A remote pilot is a natural person responsible for the safety of a drone flight and ensuring the flight is conducted legally. The remote pilot can either manually control the drone or monitor the drone if it is flying on auto-pilot.

The remote pilot must always be ready to take control in case the drone goes out of control or a situation requires the remote pilots intervention.


A remote pilot must train to a minimum standard depending on the category of operation (Open or Specific) they wish to fly in.


A remote pilot does not have to register unless they are also the drone operator.

Are there any age restrictions for operating in the Open Category? 

The minimum age is 16 years for remote pilots in the Open and Specific categories when flying by themselves (solo). There is no minimum age if the remote pilot is being supervised by another suitably qualified remote pilot who is 16 years or older.

Some aviation authorities across the EU may have lower age limits. In Ireland the minimum age is 16.


There is no minimum age for flying CE Class C0 marked drones, when they become available, under subcategory A1.

Is flying with goggles (first person view) authorised?  

The regulation allows flying without keeping direct eye contact with the drone, provided you have a person next to you, a Unmanned Aircraft (UA) observer, keeping direct visual contact with the drone, scanning the airspace to make sure that you do not endanger other parties (eg. aircraft or buildings or persons). The UA observer must be located along side you (shoulder to shoulder!!) to provide immediate communication to avoid any danger they observer.

As a drone racer which category and sub-category of operation do I fall under?  


Normally drone races are organised by clubs and associations. In this case they may have received an 'operational authorisation' by the aviation authority (IAA) in accordance with Art 16 of Regulation (EU) 2019/947, covering also the organisation of such events.

If instead you want to conduct a race not within a club or association and no spectators (in this context meaning uninvolved persons, see definition above) are present, you fall under the “Open category” and you can operate under sub-category A3 (ie. no uninvolved persons present in the flying area and flying area is located 150m horizontally from residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas).  


If there are spectators the operation falls in the “specific category” and you need to apply for an 'operational authorisation' by the aviation authority.

I fly model aircraft. Do I need to take a course?  

Yes. 


Model aircraft fall under the requirements of the new EU regulation. Where the term drone is used on this course or in this FAQ it should be understood that it includes model aircraft.

Often, model aircraft operators and pilots will become members of model aircraft clubs. Pilot members of this club can fly in accordance with the permission (authorisation) the club has attained from the aviation authority. This is only applicable at the clubs location or as allowed by their permission. Pilots must meet minimum training & qualification standards in compliance with the clubs permission. This will at a minimum need to meet the A1 & A3 requirements (this course) but could involve more complex training requirements.


A model aircraft 'operator' wishing to operate outside the bounds of a club will need to comply with all the requirements of the regulation including registration. They may also need a permission (authorisation) from the aviation authority.


A model aircraft pilot operating outside the bounds of a club and wishing to fly will need to meet the full requirements of the regulation including completing this A1 & A3 course (this course) or as required the A2 course or the Specific Category Pilot Competency Course depending on the risk level, drone weight and complexity of the flying.


Model Aircraft clubs, operators or pilots wishing to use Safe Drone Academy training should take a course or contact Safe Drone Academy on hello@safedrone.ie or +353870919600 for further information.

Meet the instructor

Mark Prendergast

Mark is our founder and Head of Training. A veteran of aviation, Mark has 25 years of manned aviation experience in both the military and commercial aviation fields. He is currently an Airbus A320 Captain with Ireland's national airline, Aer Lingus. He has been involved with 'drones as a service' businesses since 2014 and has been a drone instructor and flight test examiner with the IAA since 2015. His unmanned and drone pedigree is second to none. You are in great hands with Mark guiding you on your drone journey. 
Mark Prendergast - Course author
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