Contributor: Vadym Samoilenko
1. Are UAS considered as “aircraft” in your country?
Yes. According to the Air Code, the term “unmanned aerial system” (“UAS”) is defined as any aircraft intended to fly without a pilot on board. The flight and control of such systems are performed by a special control station not located onboard the aircraft (Paragraph 23 of Part 1 of Article 1 of the Air Code of Ukraine No. 3393-VI dated 19 May 2011, as amended (the “Air Code“)). The Registration Rules further elaborate that UAS include unmanned, untethered balloons and remotely piloted aircraft (the Rules of Registration of Civil Aircraft in Ukraine, approved by the Order of the State Aviation Service of Ukraine No. 153 dated 5 February 2019, as amended (the “Registration Rules”)).
2. Which bodies regulate the remotely-piloted and/or unmanned aircraft operations in your country, under what basic laws?
Generally, the regulatory authorities for UAS operations in Ukraine are as follows:
1) State Aviation Service of Ukraine – the main government body in the sphere of aviation and use of airspace of Ukraine (the “Aviation Authority”);
2) Ukrainian State Air Traffic Service Enterprise, also known by its Ukrainian acronym ‘Ukraerorukh’ or its English acronym ‘UkSATSE’ – the exclusive state-owned provider of air navigation services in Ukraine (“UkSATSE”);
3) National Bureau of Air Accidents Investigation of Ukraine, also known by its abbreviated name ‘NBAAI’ – the national civil aviation incident investigation authority of Ukraine, a “specialist expert organization” consisting of 40 experts and subordinate to CMU.
The legal status of UAS, including drones, has undergone some changes recently and become less ambiguous in general. Notwithstanding with that, Ukrainian law (the “Law”) still contains numerous “grey areas” in respect of specific issues of using UAS. Where the Law does not provide for rules created for UAS exclusively, general aviation regulations are applicable to UAS operations. The main pieces of legislation regulating the legal status of UAS, their use of air space and air traffic are the following:
1) ICAO Convention on International Civil Aviation of 7 December 1944 (the “Convention”), joined by Ukraine in 1992;
2) Air Code, which is the main piece of the Law regulating activities in aviation sphere;
3) Registration Rules, which define the procedure and requirements for maintaining the State Register of Civil Aircraft of Ukraine (the “Register”) and rules for registration and re-registration of new, modified, and repaired aircraft in possession of Ukrainian resident legal entities and individuals;
4) Regulation on Use of the Airspace of Ukraine, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Resolution No. 954 dated 6th December 2017 (the “Airspace Regulation”), which establishes the legal framework for using airspace by legal persons and individuals, as well as defines the competences and functions of the airspace and air traffic control authorities;
5) Aviation Rules of Ukraine “Rules of Use of the Airspace of Ukraine”, approved by the Order of the Aviation Authority, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine No. 430/210 dated 11 May 2018, which establishes the legal framework for using airspace by legal persons and individuals, procedures for granting permissions for use of the airspace, determines use of specific zones and areas, including restricted and banned (the “Airspace Rules“),
6) Rules of Civil Aircraft Flights in the Airspace of Ukraine, approved by the Order of the Infrastructure Ministry No. 478 dated 28 October 2011, as amended, which provide for general rules of performing flights and manoeuvring of aircraft, including in the classified air space of Ukraine and the airspace over the high seas, where the responsibility for air traffic control services is assigned to Ukraine by international agreements;
7) Aviation Rules of Ukraine “General Rules of Flights in the Airspace of Ukraine”, approved by the Order of the Aviation Authority No. 66/73 dated 6th February 2017 (the “General Rules of Flights“); and
8) Rules of Air Operators Certification, approved by the Order of the State Service of Ukraine on Supervision for Aviation Safety No. 684 dated 20 September 2005, as amended (the “Certification Rules”).
At the same time, on the commercial and leisure side of the industry, UAS have been making far more progress. A fraction of the price of helicopters, they have brought down the cost of low-flying aerial shots and have introduced a wide range of other commercial uses in very different spheres, from agriculture to internet access. UAS are also becoming an invaluable asset for Ukraine’s fledgling army that constantly upgrades its technical equipment to meet the NATO standards.
Such growing leisure and commercial use of UAS demand the legislator to develop comprehensive UAS rules. Therefore, it is commonly expected that additional amendments in the UAS field will follow soon.
3. Is there a distinction between “State UAS” and “Private UAS”?
Generally, there is no clear distinction between the “state UAS” and “private UAS”. However, the Law distinguished between such general terms as “state aviation” and “civil aviation”. According to Part 4 of Article 4 of the Air Code, these terms are defined as follows:
1) civil aviation attends to the needs of the state and individuals in air transportation and other aviation works, as well as in conducting flights for private purposes; the civil aviation is divided into two major groups: the commercial and general (utility, transport) aviation;
2) state aviation utilizes aircraft for the purposes of national security, defense and protection of the population, which are assigned to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other competent authorities.
Although the Registration Rules explicitly state that UAS shall be considered as “civil aircrafts”, there also exist several legal acts that establish specific rules of use of UAS for “state” purposes, such as state defense and emergencies. UAS used for such purposes are treated in accordance with specific provisions of respective acts in “state” areas.
With that being said, a UAS is a civil aircraft and governed by general rules established for civil aviation, unless otherwise is directly stipulated by the Law.
4. Is there any distinction between public, leisure and commercial UAS? What regulations are provided for UAS operations in each group?
The Law does not specifically provide a distinction between public, leisure, and commercial UAS, nor does it contain any clear definitions of these terms.
At the same time, the Law provides for a different legal treatment for certain types of UAS, in particular:
1) UAS that are intended for leisure and sport and have the take-off weight of no more than 20 kg (44.09 lb.) shall not be subject to the state registration in the Register (please see our answer to Question 19 below);
2) it is required to register commercial UAS in the Register regardless of their weight.
5. Is there a distinction, in terms of regulation, between completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS?
Although such a distinction is mentioned in the General Rules of Flights, it does not bring in any difference in terms of actual regulation of completely autonomous UAS and remotely-piloted UAS.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Operations - Safety
6. How are UAS operations regulated in terms of safety?
General rules and aero navigation restrictions for all users of the airspace shall also apply to UAS operators (for more details, please see our answers to Questions 24-26 below). Additionally, there are also specific conditions for flights without obtaining any permits, which are highlighted in our answer to Question 23 below.
7. Is the applicable regulation considering the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot?
No, the Law does not contain the rule of 1 UAS = 1 pilot.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") Operations - Licensing
8. What procedures are there to obtain licenses or the rights to operate UAS?
Under the term “license” we understand a special business permit issued by respective licensing authority (e.g., the Aviation Authority) entitling a licensee to carry out a particular type of business activity, which is specifically listed in the Law of Ukraine “On Licensing of Types of Business Activity” No. 222-VIII dated 2 March 2015, as amended. In line with such an interpretation, no license shall be needed for operating UAS.
As to the other permits, in absence of specific regulation applicable to UAS, one should refer to the general rules of operating civil aircraft in Ukraine. That being said, should a UAS require state registration, it shall also obtain a Certificate of Airworthiness as a precondition for such state registration. Additionally, a UAS operator shall obtain an Operator Certificate. At that, the procedures for the obtainment of both permissive documents shall be analogous to the procedure that applies to other civil aircraft.
The Airspace Regulation also mentions two types of permits issued to the operators of the civil aircraft: (i) a flight permit, and a permit for the use of airspace. According to Paragraphs 3-7 of Part 18 of the Airspace Regulation, the applications for use of airspace are not submitted in the flights if the flights of civil aircraft are performed on the conditions of the general air traffic and outside the controlled airspace of air traffic control, unless they are performed:
1) in specially established zones (temporarily reserved airspace);
2) within the aerodrome zones and areas of air traffic control by departmental air traffic control bodies;
3) within zones with a special mode of the airspace use;
4) with crossing the state border.
However, taking into account specific characteristics of UAS, as well as the lack of legislative regulation, currently, it is the general practice that UAS are operated in Ukraine without undergoing any of the above procedures. This is also demonstrated by the fact that, as of today, the Register does not contain information regarding any UAS.
Generally, the above requirements appear to be in compliance with the Convention which provides that: “[n]o aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a contracting State without special authorization by that State and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot in regions open to civil aircraft shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to civil aircraft”.
9. Are there any kind of taxes or fees regarding the licensing procedure?
As licensing, in its classic sense, is not required for UAS, no taxes and fees shall be withdrawn.
10. Is a Certificate of Airworthiness mandatory to operate a UAS?
Should a UAS require state registration with its inclusion into the Register, the obtainment of a Certificate of Airworthiness shall be mandatory. In accordance with Part 4 of Article 39 of the Air Code, the Aviation Authority has the right to refuse registering UAS if airworthiness is not confirmed.
11. Is access to the market for the provision of UAS operation services regulated and, if so, how?
12. What requirements apply in the areas of financial strength and nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS?
The Law does not establish any requirements in the areas of financial strength and/or nationality of ownership regarding control of UAS.
13. Is drone transport permitted / regulated in your country?
Drone transport is neither banned nor explicitly permitted in Ukraine.
Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ("UAS") - Operations - Others
14. Is there a specific Data & Privacy Protection regulation applicable to UAS operations?
15. Is there a specific control-link interference regulation applicable to UAS operations?
No. The Law does not contain any specific control-link interference regulations applicable to UAS operations.
16. Do specific rules regulate UAS manufacturers?
17. What requirements must a foreign UAS operator satisfy in order to operate to or from your country?
Pursuant to Article 8 of the Convention, UAS intending to operate over the territory of Ukraine shall obtain a special authorization from Ukraine. However, at the moment the Law does not contain any specific rules or requirements regulating UAS operations over, to, or from the territory of Ukraine.
According to Part 5 of Article 46 of the Air Code, international flights of foreign UAS shall be conducted subject to the special permit issued by the Aviation Authority and agreed by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in accordance with the aviation rules of Ukraine. Despite the existence of such a general requirement, currently, there are no procedures or aviation rules for the obtainment of such a special permit.
18. Are fares or pricing of UAS operations regulated and, if so, how?
The Aircraft (“UAS”)
19. Must UAS be registered in any particular register?
The Registration Rules state that an aircraft must be included into the Register if it is owned by a legal entity incorporated in Ukraine or an individual resident in Ukraine, or rented or leased by a Ukrainian operator from a non-resident owner. Unmanned, untethered balloons without a payload and remotely piloted aircraft having the maximum take-off weight not exceeding 20 kg (44.09 lb.) that are used for leisure and sports activities are not subject to registration in the Register. The Air Code provides that these types of unregistered aircraft must be governed by rules established by professional organizations (federations) regulating the activity of such vehicles.
There is a number of UAS federations in Ukraine, e.g., All- Ukrainian Federation of Drone Owners, All-Ukrainian Federation for Support and Development of Unmanned Aircraft. However, neither of them has legally established status to adopt respective aviation rules.
By a reversal of logic, should UAS exceed the above weight requirement and/or be used for activities other than sport and leisure, it shall be registered in the Register. Despite mandatory nature of such a requirement, it remains declarative and, currently, there are no UAS included into the Register.
20. Who is entitled to be mentioned in the UAS register?
An aircraft’s operator and/or owner is entitled to be mentioned in the Register.
21. Do requirements or limitations apply to the ownership of a UAS listed on your country’s register?
The Registration Rules provide that an aircraft, including UAS, must be included into the Register if it is owned by a Ukrainian resident legal entity or individual, or rented or leased by a Ukrainian operator from a non-resident owner.
22. Do specific rules regulate the maintenance of UAS?
No. In absence of the specific rules regulating the maintenance of UAS, one should refer to general requirements on safety, compliance, and technical conformity of civil aircraft.
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?
The Airspace Rules set forth that no permits or notifications are required as long as the flight of a UAS under 20 kg (44.09 lb.) is in compliance with the below limitations:
1) a UAS shall be operated under VLOS (Visual Line of Sight) conditions;
2) a UAS shall have a maximum flight speed of 160 km/h (99.4 mph);
3) a maximum flight height shall be:
a) 120m (393.7 feet) above the earth (water) surface outside CTR, AFIZ, ATCA, ATCZ, specially established zones, reserved airspace for state aviation flights;
b) 50m (164.04 feet) above the earth (water) surface inside CTR, AFIZ, ATCA, ATCZ, specially established zones, reserved airspace for state aviation flights, or when the information about the status of airspace elements at the time of the flight is unavailable;
c) 50m (164.04 feet) above static obstacles and no more than 100m in horizontal distance from such obstacles, as a deviation from the flight height restrictions immediately above under a request of an owner of that object;
4) a UAS shall not cross the state border and borders of special restricted and/or banned areas;
5) the flight shall not be performed above the confluence on an open area and dense building;
6) flights may be performed at the minimal distance of 5km (16404.2 feet) from another aircraft in the air;
7) a UAS shall maintain the minimum distance of 500m (1640.42 feet) from another aircraft in the air;
8) UAS flights shall be banned within the areas determined by authorized bodies (e.g. National Police, Security Service of Ukraine) if such areas are clearly indicated as banned by respective information sings.
UAS flights that either (i) involve a UAS exceeding 20kg (44.09 lb.) limit or (ii) do not comply with the limitations stated above shall be conducted in accordance with the general terms and conditions.
24. Are UAS obliged to take off from and/or land in specific facilities?
The Law does not contain any requirements to the UAS take-off and/or land facilities.
25. Which kind of airspaces are UAS permitted to operate with?
Currently, the Law does not contain any specific requirements and refers to the general aero navigation rules applicable to the civil aircraft operation.
In accordance with the Airspace Regulation, UAS are permitted to use airspace that is not “restricted” or “banned”. Urgent information about restricted/banned zones shall be periodically published in the Aeronautical Information Publication of Ukraine and/or in the airspace usage plans.
26. Which airspaces are restricted for UAS?
According to the general regulation applicable to civil aircraft, the following airspaces are restricted for civil aircraft, including UAS:
1) Flight Restriction Zones – areas of airspace over land or territorial waters that are restricted to aircraft flights;
2) Danger Zones – areas of airspace where, during a specified period of time, certain activities dangerous to air traffic can be conducted;
3) Temporarily Reserved Airspace – airspace where air traffic is not allowed within a specified time because of a threat to regular aviation flights or the use of airspace for other purposes.
Aircraft can fly in the above zones only upon obtaining authorization from respective air traffic control entity.
27. Which zones are UAS operations banned?
According to the general regulation applicable to civil aircraft, some airspace zones may be banned for aircraft flights on a temporary or permanent basis.
Prohibition of the use of airspace on a permanent basis shall be established by the Aviation Authority upon submission by relevant state bodies, enterprises, institutions, and organizations and shall be published in the aeronautical documents. Additionally, airspace over objects of natural reserve fund or industrial sites which constitute increased environmental hazard (e.g., hydroelectric power plants, nuclear power plants, dams, etc.) are constantly banned for any flights, including those of UAS.
A temporary ban on the use of some areas of airspace shall be established for the benefit of users who submitted the relevant applications, taking into account the priorities set in the Airspace Regulation and the principles of flexible use of airspace in accordance with the European Concept of the Flexible Use of Airspace.
Urgent information about temporary and constantly prohibited areas could be found in the Aeronautical Information Publication of Ukraine and/or in the airspace usage plans.
28. Who provides air traffic control services for UAS in your country?
There is no specific authority to provide air traffic control services for UAS.
In Ukraine the air traffic control services are generally provided by UkSATSE.
Liability and Accidents
29. Are there any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo?
As the Law does not contain any special rules in respect of loss or damage to cargo of UAS, the general aviation rules shall apply.
30. Are there any special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage?
No. In absence of special rules about the liability of UAS operators for surface damage, one should refer to the general liability regulations.
31. Is there a mandatory accident and incident reporting system and, if so, how does it operate?
There is no reporting system which is specifically intended for UAS.
Apparently, in cases of UAS accidents and incidents, it is necessary to apply the general provisions of the Law, including the Indicative List of Occurrences in Civil Aviation Sector and Recommended Amount of Information to Be Provided When Notifying about Occurrences, approved by Order of the Aviation Authority No. 619 dated 21 August 2013 (the “Occurrences List”).
Accidents and incidents that require mandatory reporting within 72 hours after they take place are listed in Annex B1 of the Occurrences List. Relevant notification shall be made in strict accordance with the notification form attached as Annex B2 to the Occurrences List.
32. What system and procedures are in place for the investigation of UAS accidents?
The Law does not specifically regulate the investigation of UAS accidents; therefore, the general investigation rules shall apply.
Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
Generally, aviation insurance matters are regulated by the Procedure and Rules of Mandatory Aviation Insurance of Civil Aviation, approved by CMU Resolution No. 676 dated 6 September 2017, as amended (the “Insurance Rules“). However, these Insurance Rules do not stipulate specific rules for the UAS sector.
Considering the norms of the Insurance Rules, UAS operators shall be obliged to have insurance for their operations regardless of the take-off weight or weight of a UAS.
33. Are UAS operators obliged to have insurance for their operations? If so, which are their main features?
According to the Insurance Rules, mandatory insurance shall include, inter alia:
a) liability insurance of air carriers for damage to passengers, luggage, mail, cargo;
b) liability insurance of commercial aircraft operators for damage caused to third parties;
c) liability insurance of non-commercial aircraft operators or owners for damage caused to third parties;
d) insurance of aircraft crew members and other aviation personnel;
e) insurance of aircraft;
f) liability insurance of educational institutions for damage caused to third parties during performance of flight trainings;
g) insurance of customers of aviation works and persons authorized to ensure the technological process during performance of such works.
Financial support and state aid
34. What is insured? The operator, the business or the aircraft?
The Law does not foresee any financial support by the government and/or state aid in the UAS sector.
The Law establishes state support through certain exemptions from taxation for companies of the aviation industry in general. According to Article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On Development of Aircraft Construction” No. 2660-III dated 12 July 2001, as amended (the “Aircraft Construction Law”), Ukrainian legal entities may receive state support if they meet certain mandatory criteria and are included to the List of Subjects of Aircraft Construction for Which Temporary Measures on State Support are Introduced, approved by the CMU (the “Support List”).
The Aircraft Construction Law determined that in the Support List might be included companies which are operating in the spheres of vehicle repair, military aircraft construction, and fulfilment of Ukrainian international obligations.
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?
Please see our answer to Question 35 above.
36. What are the main principles of the stated aid rules applicable to the UAS sector?
Please see our answer to Question 35 above.
37. Are there exemptions from the state aid rules or situations in which they do not apply?
Please see our answer to Question 35 above.
Over the past few years, UAS have become central to the operations of various businesses and government bodies in Ukraine. Notably, the growing interest in use and manufacturing of UAS brought in active communication between the government and society, which led to adoption of several new regulations in the aviation sector. Nevertheless, the modern UAS legislation still requires comprehensive adjustment and integration of different areas of the Law, including aviation laws, telecommunication laws, privacy laws criminal justice laws, etc., which is a matter of long-term and multi-level reforms.