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EU Open A1/A3

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Description
This course covers the minimum training a pilot wishing to fly in sub-category A1 & A3 of the EU Open Category should undertake. Fly for fun, commercial or other aerial work reasons. Taking this course will prepare you for the 40 multiple choice question exam the aviation authority require you to pass before they will issue the Open A1/A3 remote pilot certificate**. 

This course is a series of short videos outlining the Do's and Do Nots of the EU regulation with respect to the requirements of Open sub-category A1 & A3. 

A1 Subcategory: Your drones weighs less than 500g or has a C0 or C1 label. Fly very close to people below 120m and in sparsely populated and populated areas. 

A3 Subcategory: Your drone weighs between 500g and 25kgs or has a C2, C3 or C4 label. Fly 150m from Residential, Commercial, Industrial and Recreational areas below 120m*.

*A3 Subcategory too restrictive for your needs! Try our Open A2 course if your drone weighs 500g to <2kg, or has a C2 label, and remove this restriction.

**Note: Safe Drone Academy DO NOT issue the Open A1/A3 Certificate. The aviation authority issue the certificate after you pass their online exam. In Ireland, this exam is hosted on the IAA's MYSRS platform. You will be required to pass the IAA's exam in order to attain your Open A1/A3 certificate. 
Format

Online Course

Quiz

40 Multi Choice

Starting date

Whenever Suits You!

Format

Online Course

Duration

90 minutes

Price

€29

Ultimate Course for Open A1/A3 
Preparation

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What Students Think!

"A company established by two Aviation professionals and run to the highest standards. Making the decision to undertake our training as a group of Civil Engineering /Surveying / Management Lecturers would mean that we would have to be given a solid foundation in IAA procedure. Safe Drone did just that and reinforced the training with study material second to none. The course covered all these subjects and a great deal more . The Study material is excellent , the structure of the course is all encompassing and the Instructors are 10,000 hrs ++ professionals . One of the most enjoyable and interesting professional courses I have ever attended"
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Jonathan Blackmore B.Sc (Hons) M.Sc MSCSI MRICS Lecturer Chartered Surveyor
"I can't emphasize enough what amazing service Mark at Safe Drone provided to our company. With a short deadline for gaining regulatory approval in Ireland for an upcoming customer, Mark worked quickly to review our UAS program and gave us direct steps towards compliance. Excellent communications through the process made this process smooth and straightforward. I would recommend Safe Drone to anyone hoping to work in Ireland in the UAS industry!"
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Jason McNally, SkySpecs USA
"Fabulous experience to say the least, Mark is a remarkable tutor and very detailed. It was a great course and I really enjoyed every second of it. I would highly recommend the Safe drone academy for all your training requirements. "
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James Lakes Carlow Co Council
"Safe Drone far exceeded my expectations! It was worth every penny, Mark and Tad are both experts in the area, and they continuously provide support services to former students. I started the course with not much confidence and knowledge in flying a drone and ended it feeling much more confident and aware of how I should fly it in order to keep myself and others safe. I highly recommend Safe Drone to everyone interested in learning about the drone world for business or personal reasons. Thank you again guys!"
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Fernanda Areis 

What's included?

  • 12 Short Videos
  • 1 Certification
  • 5 PDFs
  • 40 Simple Questions

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 A1 & A3 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

I'm very busy, 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 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 duration of the course is approximately 90 minutes. 

The course and 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. 

This course serves as preparation for the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) administered 40 Multiple Choice Question exam. 


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-category A1 & 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) with drone
-No Dropping Goods
-No Carrying Danger Goods
-Outside specific 'geographic zones'





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 A1 Category?   

Flight Restrictions.

• you must remain in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of 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 25kgs you have two options.

Option 1: Qualify to fly in the more advanced Open A2 subcategory. Currently Limited to 2kg max (Click to See A2 Course)

Option 2: Fly in the Open A3 subcategory. See the FAQ below.

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.

What am I allowed do when flying in the Open A3 Category?  

Flight Restrictions.

• you must remain in Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) of 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 places of so called 'geographic areas". See Safe Drone Airspace Map (Airspace Map).

Drone Restrictions.

• if your drone has a max take-off weight below 500g you may fly in the Open A1 subcategory. See FAQ above.

• If your drone has a max take-off weight above 500g and less than 25kgs you have two options.

Option 1: Qualify to fly in the more advanced Open A2 subcategory. Currently Limited to 2kg max. (Click to See A2 Course)

Option 2: Fly in the Open A3 subcategory.


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 'proof of training' valid for?  

The A1 & A3 'proof of training' certificate is valid for 5 years. 

How do I re-validate my A1 & A3 'proof of training' certificate?  

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

Scenario 1: Re-validation before  the expiry date of my A1 & A3 'proof of training':

• Take the online refresher course.

or

• Take the online multiple choice exam.

Scenario 2: Re-validation after  the expiry date of my A1 & A3 'proof of training':

• 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.

Generally, you must ensure the 'geographic zone' you fly in is approved for Open category flying operations. You need to check before you fly. 

Ireland
In Ireland 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) (https://iaa.mysrs.ie). 

Within you can take the required 40 multiple choice exam. Passing this exam will qualify you for the Open A1/A3 certificate. This course is not a regulatory course. Safe Drone Academy does not issue your Open A1/A3 certificate. This course is designed to help you pass your IAA exam. 

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

Does the Open A1/A3 pilot certificate allow me fly in other EU member states? 


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

The 'proof of training' certificate is valid in all EU members states. It will allow you fly with A1 & A3 restrictions and in the 'geographic zones' each member states permits A1 & 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

You must keep your Open A1/A3 certificate with you when flying. A digital or hard copy is sufficient. 

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; and  

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. In Ireland the age restriction 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 the remote pilot fly without keeping direct eye contact with the drone, provided they have an observer beside them who must maintain visual line of sight with the drone at all times. The observer must advise the Remote Pilot if the drone will collide with an aircraft, obstacle or another person. The observe must stand beside the remote pilot and communicate instructions. 

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 2013 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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