Contributor: Laura Pierallini
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
Pursuant to article 743 of Italian Navigation Code, UAS are considered aircraft as defined by special laws, regulations issued by ENAC (i.e. the Italian Civil Aviation Authority) and by decrees of the Ministry of Defence for military UAS. Furthermore, the regulation issued by ENAC identifies as UAS subject to the provisions of Italian Navigation Code only those used for commercial and professional purposes (so called “specialised operations”).
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
The body which regulates remotely-piloted aircraft and unmanned aircraft is ENAC, pursuant to the rules established by the Italian Navigation Code, the EU Regulation and its specific regulation (see below).
The first ENAC regulation on UAS was issued in 2013 and it was then amended from time to time. Lastly, on 11 November 2019 ENAC approved a new UAS regulation in order to ease the transition to the Regulation (EU) 2018/1139, the new “basic” Regulation, which replaced Regulation (EC) 216/2008, and which will apply to drones in all the Member States from 1 July 2020. The new basic Regulation covers unmanned aircraft regardless of their operating mass (both above and below 150kg) and the EU Commission has recently issued delegated and implementing acts (namely Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/945 and Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/947) to lay down detailed provisions regarding the production, registration and operation of drones in the European Union.
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
Yes, according to Article 744 of the Italian Navigation Code, “State UAS” are the military UAS, those owned by the State and engaged in institutional services of Police, Customs, Fire Corps and Civil Protection Department. Any other UAS is considered to be “Private UAS”.
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
Yes, the ENAC Regulation makes a distinction between leisure use and commercial use. Namely, drones for leisure use are called “aero models” and defined as “exclusively operated for recreational and sport purposes, with no devices to allow autonomous flight and under the continuing visual line of sight of the operator”. On the other hand, commercial drones are those operated for reward or for a business purpose, such as aerial photographs, TV and movie cameras, environmental monitoring, agricultural applications, advertising, training courses, patrol and surveillance activities.
Pursuant to article 744 of the Italian Navigation Code, State drones (i.e. public) are the military ones and those owned by the State and engaged in public services of the Police Force, Customs, Fire Fighters, Civil Protection Department on in any other national services. All other drones are considered to be private.
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Yes. During the flight of a remotely-piloted UAS the pilot-in-command must be present, able to intervene at any time and make the UAS landing for any need. During the flight of a completely autonomous UAS the drone must be able to pursue its mission following the pre-set route without the assistance of a pilot.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
Yes, under the Italian system a distinction is made between critical and non-critical operations.
Non-critical operations are conducted in VLOS and do not overfly congested areas, crowd of people, urban territories and sensitive infrastructures. Before the commencement of non-critical operations, the relevant operator must submit to ENAC a self-declaration attesting compliance with the applicable regulations and setting out limits/conditions under which the operations will be conducted. The operator is also responsible to make an appropriate risk assessment and to evaluate the continuing presence of a non-critical scenario. Before submitting the said self-declaration to ENAC, the operator is also responsible to perform test flights aimed to ensure adequate control of the drone, with a main focus on safety procedures.
Critical operations performed within “standard scenarios” (as published by ENAC) follow the same rules above regarding non-critical operations. On the contrary, critical operations not falling within the mentioned standard scenarios (also called specialized operations) require a prior authorization from ENAC. Furthermore, the operator must hold an appropriate technical and operational organization certified by ENAC. The authorization is granted for an indefinite period of time, to the extent that no changes are made to the systems and/or operations. In this respect the operator must timely inform ENAC of any such changes, and in any case ENAC is always empowered to carry out periodic inspections and checks on the ongoing activities of the authorized operators.
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
Generally speaking yes, but it must be noted that in the event of flight in extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) – being such operations carried out at a distance exceeding the limits of the VLOS operations – the command and control of the UAS must be transferred to another pilot at the time the UAS is no longer in the visual line of sight of the first pilot. Therefore, for EVLOS operations the UAS is generally under the command and control of more than one pilot.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
The professional use of UAS shall be subject to the filing of a declaration in the event of non-critical operations, or to a prior authorization by ENAC in the event of critical operations. Critical operations performed within “standard scenarios” (as published by ENAC) follow the same rules applicable to non-critical operations. Furthermore, the pilot-in-command must have a flight certificate (for UAS with MTOW up to 25 kg) or a flight license (for UAS with MTOW over 25 kg).
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
ENAC charges Euro 90 per hour to process a licensing application (usually it takes 4-5 hours to complete the procedure). In addition, ENAC fees in relation to flight operations range from € 94 for non-critical operations to € 309 for critical operations and research or development flights.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
In case of research and development flights for experimental purposes, as well as for specialized operations with drones that are not produced serially, the airworthiness is certified by ENAC with the release of a ‘Permit to Fly’ for each specific drone. The Permit to Fly is valid for the time necessary to complete operations (for experimental purposes) or for three years (in the event of specialized activities).
On the contrary, drones produced on a serial basis must obtain a certificate of airworthiness to certify compliance with the type certificate issued by ENAC to the relevant manufacturer.
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
The requirement to access the market for the provision of UAS operation services is to obtain in advance the ENAC authorization for either non-critical or critical operations.
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
There is no specific regulation in the areas of financial strength or nationality ownership in respect of UAS.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
No, it is not. However, recently a number of a test cargo flights took place in the context of a research program overseen by ENAC. The results of the research program carried out by ENAC will be one of the key elements to support the development of a future regulation on air transport via drone for both commercial and governmental use.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
No, there is not. The rules laid down in the Italian Privacy Code (Legislative Decree No. 196/2003, as amended by Legislative Decree No. 101/2018) and in Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (GDPR) apply to the flight operations with UAS. However, the Italian Personal Data Protection Authority has recently published guidelines regarding the use of UAS, according to which: (i) UAS must not violate personal spaces and privacy; (ii) the use of photos and videos is permitted only with the prior written consent of the subjects, or, without such authorization, if the subjects cannot be recognized; (iii) personal data (such as home addresses and car license plates) cannot be reproduced.
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
No, there is not. UAS data link must ensure functions of command and control appropriate for the area of operations in terms of reliability and stability. The data link must use frequencies authorised and selected in order to minimize the possibility of unexpected and/or unlawful interferences, capable of jeopardizing the safety of flight operations.
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
Yes, any manufacturer willing to engage in the serial production of drones must apply ENAC to obtain the so called “certificato di progetto” (i.e. design certificate), which is issued by ENAC upon positive assessment of specific safety and operational requirements. In order to obtain a design certificate the manufacturer must: (i) hold a suitable productive organization of means and personnel; (ii) provide ENAC with a complete drone configuration; (iii) have carried out all the necessary tests and analysis to ascertain specific conditions and limitations related to the safety of drones; (iv) prepare relevant flight manual and maintenance manual for subsequent use by the operator. The design certificate issued by ENAC includes the following information: (i) details of the manufacturer; (ii) drone configuration; (iii) scenarios of permitted flight operations, including relevant conditions and/or limitations; (iv) related technical documents.
Any single drone produced by a manufacturer must be accompanied by a statement of conformity issued by the manufacturer itself, attesting compliance of the single product with the configuration laid down in the relevant design certificate.
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
Once Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 is fully applicable following the issuance of the implementing acts by the European Commission, all EU operators will be allowed to fly drones in the territory of the European Union without any “nationality” restrictions imposed by the Member States. Until then, foreign authorisation will not be automatically recognised in Italy. Therefore, currently foreign companies willing to operate UAS in Italy must obtain a prior authorisation from ENAC subject to compliance with the Italian legislation.
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
No, currently fares and pricing of UAS operations are not regulated.
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
UAS with MTOW exceeding 25 kg must be registered in the Italian UAS Register held by ENAC. In addition, irrespective of the MTOW, UAS must also be registered in a specific website called www.d-flight.it, where an identification code is assigned to each UAS, which must in turn be shown on both the aircraft and the ground control station.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
The owner of the UAS – and the operator if it differs from the owner – is/are entitled to be mentioned in the Italian UAS Register.
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
No they do not.
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
UAS operators must establish an appropriate maintenance programme to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the system on the basis of the relevant manufacturer’s instructions. In addition, operators must set up a data recording system with respect to flight hours, safety-related events, maintenance activities and replacement of components. Ordinary maintenance must be carried out by the operator upon the attendance of a specific maintenance course held by the manufacturer or by other organizations approved by the manufacturer.
Manufacturers (and related organizations) are authorised to perform maintenance on UAS belonging to their own production, including heavy and extraordinary maintenance.
23. Which are the operational and distance limitations for an aerial work with a UAS? Is there any kind of certificate or permission to operate beyond those limitations?
VLOS operations are permitted to be performed in daylight, up to maximum height of 150 m AGL (above ground level), within maximum horizontal distance of 500 m, and must be carried out safely and without causing damages to third parties. Higher distances and heights may be evaluated and authorized by ENAC from time to time, upon review of an appropriate risk assessment submitted by the UAS operator.
BVLOS flights are performed beyond the VLOS heights and distances within segregated airspace (either temporary or permanent) always provided that ENAC identifies specific limitations and conditions from time to time on the basis of the intended flight operations and relevant risk assessment submitted by the operator to ENAC itself.
EVLOS operations are those conducted in areas exceeding the limits of BVLOS scenarios, in relation to which VLOS requirements are satisfied by alternative means (such as additional ground control stations) that allow a continuous view of the UAS by the operator.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
No, they are not.
25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?
See answer to question 26 below.
26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?
Pursuant to art. 24 of ENAC Regulation, no airspace restriction is provided within the following conditions: (i) VLOS/EVLOS operations: (ii) maximum height of 120 m AGL; (iii) MTOW lower than 25 kg.
Within and close to airport areas specific procedures established by ENAC must apply. Detailed information about the mentioned areas are available on the website www.d-flight.it.
Specialised operations not falling within the mentioned conditions can be performed under an ENAC authorisation within temporary or permanent restricted airspace.
Furthermore, ENAC can establish temporary “no-fly zone” on the basis of safety grounds.
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
Flying over a crowd of people, demonstrations or events is forbidden, unless a specific authorisation is granted by ENAC. it is also prohibited to overfly inside – or within 5 km from – airport areas.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
The public authority engaged in the management of the air traffic is ENAV (Ente Nazionale Assistenza Volo, i.e. the Italian Air Navigation Service Provider).
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
No, there are no specific rules in this respect, also because air cargo transport via drones is not yet regulated in Italy.
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
No, there are no specific rules in this respect. Therefore, general rules apply to the liability of UAS operators for surface damages. In particular, article 965 of the Italian Navigation Code and the Rome Convention of 1952 apply to damages to third parties on the surface and they provide for a strict liability principle against the operator. It means that means that evidence of the existence of a direct connection between the drone operation and the damage shall be sufficient to allocate liability, irrespective of whether the operator has acted with fault, negligence or wilful misconduct.
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
Yes, there is a mandatory reporting system. In particular, operators, manufacturers and pilots of all drones (regardless of their MTOW) shall report to ENAC any occurrences as per Annex V of the Regulation (UE) No 2015/1018 (laying down a list classifying occurrences in civil aviation to be mandatorily reported). Reports must be submitted to ENAC within 72 hours from the event pursuant to Regulation (UE) No 376/2014 (on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation).
Also, pursuant to Regulation (UE) No 996/2010 (on the investigation and prevention of accidents and incidents in civil aviation), in case of accident or serious incident the involved parties must inform ANSV within 60 minutes from the event, in the forms established by the same authority.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
See answer to question 31 above.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Pursuant to the ENAC Regulation no UAS must be operated without a third-party insurance, which shall be adequate to the operations and compliant with the minimum insurance coverages provided by Regulation (CE) 785/2004 (on insurance requirements for air carriers and aircraft operators).
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
Financial Support and State Aid
35. Are there sector-specific rules regulating direct or indirect financial support to companies by the government or government-controlled agencies or companies (state aid) in the UAS sector? If not, do general state aid rules apply?
No, there are no sector specific rules regulating state aid in the UAS sector.
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?
38. Must clearance from the competition authorities be obtained before state aid may be granted?