European Drone Regulations 2024: Category, Classifications, SORA…

The European regulation applied to all member countries on a general basis since January 1, 2024 (2019/947 regulation) aims to classify the flight missions carried out by professional drone operators according to their level of risk. To assess these risk levels, EASA has created several flight categories (Open, Specific) which require the use of standardized drones that have received a class indication (C0-C6).

Drone Open & Specific Summary for 2024

You’re not sure you can fly your drone? You don’t know which regulatory category it falls into? Understanding the different flight categories and classifications is essential for professional drone pilots.

In this article, we’re going to analyse the Open and Specific categories for you, clarifying their operational parameters and all the restrictions associated with them. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that airspace management is the responsibility of each European Member State, as is the establishment of airspace zones and the requirements for flying in them.

What is the open category?

The Open Category encompasses drone operations with minimal risk to individuals, property, and other aircraft. Primarily designed for recreational drone pilots, it comprises three subcategories—A1, A2, and A3—each adapted to various drone types and operational scenarios. Common to all subcategories are strict regulations, including:


  • Prohibitions on flying over groups of uninvolved individuals
  • A maximum flight altitude of 120 meters above ground
  • The requirement for visual line of sight.


The Open Category’s A1 subcategory permits flying over uninvolved people, exclusively designated for drones equipped with identification tags C0 or C1. These drones posses a low-risk profile, although stringent precautions are still essential to mitigate potential incidents. A1-eligible drones must weigh a maximum of 900 grams and adhere to a maximum speed of 19m/s or 68 km/h.

C0 drones, with a maximum weight of 250g, are allowed in both A1 and A3 categories, permitting flights over uninvolved individuals and within urban areas. 

C1 drones, with a maximum weight of 900g, are only permitted in A1 and A3 operations within urban areas, with the caveat that intentional flights over uninvolved individuals are strictly prohibited. Operations within the A1 category can fly close to or even above people with very light drones but are strictly prohibited from flying over groups of people.

 C0 & C1 certified drones list (not exhaustive):

  • DJI Mini 2 SE / 3 / 3 Pro / 4 Pro (C0)
  • DJI Mavic 3 Classic (C1)
  • DJI Mavic 3 v2.0 (C1)
  • DJI Mavic 3 Cine v2.0 (C1)
  • DJI Air 3 (C1)



Subcategory A2 within the Open Category imposes stricter requirements compared to A1. It permits flights with drones weighing up to 4 kilograms and includes prohibitions over sensitive sites, along with the necessity to maintain minimum safety distances from people and residential areas. Drone pilots operating within this category are mandated to fly within 30 meters of people or 5 meters if the low-speed mode is activated.

In addition to these regulations, A2 operations are exclusively designated for drones equipped with a label C2. Flying close to third parties is allowed in A2, with required horizontal distances set at 30 meters or flight altitude, or 5 meters when in low-speed mode.

C2 drones, with a maximum weight of 4kg, are permitted in both A2 and A3 categories, enabling flights close to uninvolved people and within urban areas.

C2 certified drones list (not exhaustive):

  • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise
  • DJI Mavic 3 Multispectral
  • DJI Mavic 3 Thermal
  • DJI Matrice M30 / Matrice M30T
  • AgEagle Sensefly eBee


Designed for higher-risk operations, Subcategory A3 permits drone flights with a take-off mass of up to 25 kilograms. Flying near people and vehicles is strictly prohibited, with a minimum safety distance of 150 meters required from unconcerned people.

In addition to these regulations, A3 operations are designated exclusively for drones equipped with C class labels C2, C3 and C4.

C3 & C4 drones are allowed only in A3 category flights, with a maximum weight of 25kg, and must maintain a minimum distance of 150 meters from urban areas and uninvolved individuals, including residential, commercial, industrial, and recreational areas.

C3 certified drones list (not exhaustive):

  • DJI Inspire 3
  • DJI M350 RTK
  • Quantum Trinity F90+
  • WingtraOne
  • Delair UX11 / UX11 Longue

What is the SPECIFIC category?

The EASA has established the Specific Category to regulate drone operations with higher levels of risk or complexity compared to those in the Open category. To operate within this category, there are four ways to obtain approval:

1. Submission of a declaration according to European Standard Scenarios (STS-01 / STS-02)

2. Obtaining a permit for a specific type of flight by submitting a Pre-Defined Risk Assessment (PDRA)

3. Obtaining authorization for a specific type of flight by submitting a Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA)

4. Obtaining a Light UAS Operator Certificate (LUC)

What are standard scenarios (STS)?

A standard scenario represents a pre-established operation, providing pilots different possibilities for their flights. Operators are not obligated to obtain operational authorization for STS operations. Therefore, it is essential to first determine if the operation can be accommodated under an STS.

There are two types of scenarios: STS-01 and STS-02. The choice of scenario depends on the environment and type of missions in which you will operate your drone: urban areas, visual line of sight flights, beyond visual line of sight flights, controlled zones, etc.


Common features of flights under STS regulations include:


  • Daytime flights are permitted, while night flights are strictly prohibited.

  • Drones with a wingspan less than 3 meters have the possibility to fly above controlled areas on the ground, whether in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) or Visual Line of Sight (VLOS).

  • For drones with a wingspan less than 1 meter, flying over assemblies of people in VLOS is allowed, and BVLOS flights are possible above sparsely populated areas.

  • All flights are limited to a maximum height of 120 meters.


Designed for operations with a low to medium level of risk, STS01 mandates the utilization of drones classified as C5 class. These drones must adhere to a maximum speed of 5 m/s and maintain Visual Line of Sight (VLOS) during flight. Essentially, drones operating under STS01 regulations must stay within 120 meters from the ground, adjusted for terrain, and should not carry risky materials.

Additionally, the flight zone must be controlled on the ground if in a populated area. When flying near tall artificial obstacles, the maximum height can increase by up to 15 meters with permission.

To ensure compliance with STS01 regulations, drones must have the C5 class. Some C2/C3 drones (DJI Mavic 3, Inspire 3, Matrice 350) may need to be upgraded using certified accessory/conversion kits that include a Flight Termination System (FTS) and a Parachute Recovery System (PRS).

    how to convert your drone into a C5 class ?

    If your drone is a C2 model, you have the option to upgrade it to a C5 classification using a conversion kit. On the other hand, if it’s a C3 model, you can achieve the C5 status with the use of an accessory kit.

    Using Dronavia’s conversion kit:

    • DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise (C2) = Kronos AD Mavic 3E (C5)
    • DJI Mavic 3 Thermal (C2) = Kronos AD Mavic 3T (C5)
    • DJI Mavic 3 Multispectral (C2) = Kronos AD Mavic 3M (C5)
    • DJI Mavic 3 Pro/Cine (C2) = Kronos Mavic 3 Pro Cine (C5)

    With Dronavia’s accessory kit:


    STS-02 scenario

    Reserved for high-risk operations or those conducted in sensitive airspace, STS02 mandates the usage of a C6 aircraft and comprehensive risk assessments, along with close coordination with air traffic control authorities. Similar to the STS-01 scenario, drones must stay within 120 meters from the ground, adjusting for terrain variations. However, BVLOS flights are only possible in ground-controlled areas and outside populated areas.

    Furthermore, drones operating under STS02 regulations must be C6 class and must not carry dangerous goods. A buffer zone, calculated based on the drone’s characteristics and the Flight Termination System (FTS), must be maintained. The maximum flight distance is limited to 1 kilometer, and the drone must remain visible within 5 kilometers.

    In cases where visibility is limited, or there is an absence of an aerial observer, a pre-programmed trajectory must be followed. However, if an aerial observer is present, the maximum flight distance extends to 2 kilometers.


    How do I fly outside STS scenarios in a specific category?

    Depending on the risk of the operation to be carried out, the specific category does not offer pre-established requirements adapted to all operations. Each UAS operator must develop its own operational scenarios. This is a fundamental difference from the open category.

    There are several ways of developing your own scenarios (PDRA / SORA / LUC) in order to fly outside the STS scenarios, but the methodology used is always that of the SORA. Here we present the SORA methodology and how it applies to these 3 methods.

    what is a PDRA (Pre-Defined Risk Assessment)?

    In the first instance, if the STS scenarios are not suitable for your mission, you will not have to resort immediately to a manual application. The intermediate stage is called Pre-Defined Risk Assessment (PDRA).

    It is based on a large number of predefined missions which involve a higher risk than STS missions and which are frequently encountered in everyday life. In summary, PDRAs are pre-configured risk assessments based largely on the SORA methodology.

    These PDRAs, are approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as acceptable means of complying with Regulation 2019/947. We list some of them here:


    PDRA-S: STS for uncertified drones

    If you want to fly a drone without a CE C5 or C6 class in an STS scenario, you can use a PDRA-S called PDRA-S01 / PDRA-S02.

    PDRA-G: model for frequent missions

    PDRA-Gs are structured in the same way as STSs, and differ only in the higher risks associated with the mission. The models that can be used are called PDRA-G01 / PRDA-G02 / PDRA-G03.


    EASA is already anticipating the future and is now working on the publication of new PDRAs to create new scenarios and facilitate access to them for professional telepilot :

    PDRA-06: Test operations for drones up to 8 metres, in areas where at least 50% of manned aviation can be detected.

    PDRA-07: Operations in the airport area to carry out inspections.

    PDRA-08: Drone swarm operations.


    what is a SORA 2.5 (Specific Operations Risk Assessment)?

    If your flight missions still do not correspond to any appropriate STS or PDRA, the SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) solution is the best way to obtain authorisation. The SORA process was developed by an international forum made up of different safety and risk experts. The name of this organization is JARUS (Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems).

    The SORA 2.5 method produces a value called SAIL (Specific Assurance Integrity Level), which is the result of combining the ground risk (GRC), the air risk (ARC) and the corresponding mitigation measures applied. Depending on the SAIL index obtained, the operation will be considered more or less risky:

    Low risk (SAIL I and II)
    Medium risk (SAIL III and IV)
    High risk (SAIL V and VI)

    Once the risks have been defined, the SORA 2.5 method indicates the minimum safety requirements that an operator must meet in order to carry out the mission safely. The cost of developing a SORA application can range from €5,000 to €10,000.

    what is the operations manual (OM)?

    According to Regulation (EU) 2019/947 an application for an operational authorisation in the specific category must include an Operation Manual (OM), together with the associated specific operations risk assessment (SORA), or a PDRA table if applicable, and the evidences of compliance.

    If the operator’s activity has already been declared (within his country) and he has an Operation Manual (OM) drawn up before 31/12/2020, then it can be considered as an Operation Manual (OM) within the meaning of European legislation. All you need to do is complete this manual with the new specifics of the new regulation (EU 2019/947).

     As specialists in the immersive industry, we know that the drone is an essential tool. A well-written Operation Manual ensures safe and efficient flight operations. How to obtain an Operations Manual respecting the regulations in force as well as your operation? Only one step: Fill out the form above (10 minutes)

    At the end of this step, we will send you the document and invite you to reread it to fully understand it. Don’t let the complexity of drone regulations hold back your business. Take advantage of our professional MANEX writing service and ensure that your business is in compliance with current standards. We have a team of experts who master the complexities of drone regulations in France and Europe, offering a quality service that meets your specific needs.

    Jordan Perrin

    Instructor and consultant, Immersive Ambition

    What is IGRC (INTRINSIC Ground Risk Class) ?

    (Step #2 of SORA Methodology)

    The Ground Risk Class (GRC) is defined as the risk of a person being hit by a drone during a flight mission. To determine the intrinsic GRC , professional telepilots must take into account appendix F of the SORA 2.5 method, a table which takes into account the dimensions of the UAV, the maximum speed of the UAV and the population density present for the flight operation.

    Once the initial intrinsic GRC has been determined, mitigation measures must be applied to reduce the risk and thus obtain the value of the final GRC.These mitigation measures are as follows:


    • There are effective engineered containment systems in place.
    • Systems that reduce the effects of the impact on people on the ground.
    • An effective emergency response plan is in place, available for use and has been validated.

    What is FINAL GRC (FINAL Ground Risk Class) ?

    (Step #3 of the SORA methodology)

    According to this SORA methodology, the robustness of the mitigation measures is defined by the level of integrity offered by each of the mitigation measures and the level of assurance that the mitigation measures have achieved (for example, the method by which it is proven).

    Thus, we find 3 types of robustness levels:

    Low robustness
    Medium robustness
    High robustness

    Thus, depending on the robustness values of the mitigation measures applied, the GRC value can be reduced and the final GRC value obtained, always bearing in mind that it cannot be reduced below the minimum value in the resulting column of the “UAS intrinsic ground risk class index” table.


    An MoC (Means of Compliance) is a way for professional drone operators to demonstrate that they comply with the regulations and standards that apply to their activities, and to guarantee the quality and safety of the products they use. To obtain it, it is necessary to meet the current regulatory requirements published by EASA, the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency.

    In addition to the quality and safety offered by a product that complies with the MOCs proposed by EASA, professional drone operators can more easily obtain a SORA (Specific Operations Risk Assessment) or a PDRA (Pre-Defined Risk Assessment), flight authorisations issued for complex missions in a specific category.

    “AMCs are non-binding standards adopted by EASA to illustrate means to establish compliance with the Basic Regulation and its Implementing Rules.

    The AMCs issued by EASA are not of a legislative nature. They cannot create additional obligations on the regulated persons, who may decide to show compliance with the applicable requirements using other means. However, as the legislator wanted such material to provide for legal certainty and to contribute to uniform implementation, it provided the AMC adopted by EASA with a presumption of compliance with the rules, so that it commits competent authorities to recognise regulated persons complying with EASA AMC as complying with the law.” 

    how to REDUCE FINAL GRC with MOC2512 (M2)?

    As professional telepilots, it is important to be aware of the means of compliance for M2 mitigations of medium robustness, enabling you to reduce your final GRC score during the SORA application.

    MOC2512 (M2) designates the level of robustness required for the safety system in the event of a drone losing control and falling to the ground. To achieve this, the safety system must :

    Reduce the effect of ground impact
    Operate reliably in the event of loss of control
    Not introduce any additional risk

    Dronavia’s Kronos Parachute Recovery Systems (PRS) for DJI Inspire 3 and Matrice 300/350 as well as for DJI Mavic 3 comply with MOC25-12 (M2) published by the EASA and therefore reduce the final GRC score by one point.

    To benefit from this score reduction, Dronavia is able to provide all the necessary proof (declaration of conformity, test reports, etc.) requested by the national authority and/or the EASA.

    how to complete part 8   with MOC2511 ?

    Step 8 (Containment Requirements) of the SORA 2.5 discusses the risk of losing control of the aircraft and flying into adjacent areas where the risk to third parties (on the ground or in the air) may be greater. If the aircraft is not adequately designed, there may be probable reasons that could lead to an exit from the area of operation.

    The operator must take into account a matrix which combines the SAIL and the final GRC of the adjacent area, explained in appendix E of the SORA 2.5. For any reinforced containment system, the operator must: “declare compliance with the provisions of the document “Means of compliance with Light UAS.2511 – Reinforced containment”, or provide proof of this compliance (technical description, test reports, etc.) when applying for a permit. “

    The Dronavia flight termination systems (FTS) of the Kronos range for DJI Inspire 3 and Matrice 300/350 as well as for DJI Mavic 3 are compliant with MOC25-11 published by EASA and allow compliance with step 8 during the SORA application.

    To benefit from this compliance, Dronavia is able to provide all the necessary evidence (declaration of conformity, test reports, ground risk buffer, etc.) requested by the national authority and/or the EASA.

    what is a LUC (Light UAS Operator Certificate)?

    The latest solution is aimed at all users who have to submit activity reports for a well-defined type of operation on a very regular basis.

    LUC stands for Light UAS Operator Certificate and means that you are particularly familiar with the risks and safety measures to be applied for a specific type of drone operation. If you obtain an LUC, you can :


    • Operate in standard scenarios without declaring it
    • Operate in PDRA without approval
    • Conduct the SORA process and related operations without authorization

    C5 CLASS

    for your DJI Matrice 350

    C5 CLASS

    for your DJI Inspire 3

    C5 CLASS

    for your DJI Mavic 3

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