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EU's way of making regulations

This article is intended for operators interested in information on how the regulations for unmanned aviation are structured.

The EU has a slightly different way of making regulations than we are used to here in Norway. In Norway, we in unmanned aviation have been accustomed to comply with a regulation that has regulated the area in its entirety. All information has been gathered in one place, and an update has led to a revision of the regulations. As for all other regulations in Norway, these regulations are issued on the basis of law, in this case, the Civil Aviation Act. In a table, this can look like this:

Regulations Legally binding Update rate Rank
Luftfartsloven Yes Rarely First
Forskrift  Yes More common Second

The new common European regulations have also been implemented in Norwegian law as a regulation. The regulations, on the other hand, do not contain the complete regulations as we are used to, but are what is called an implementing regulation that confirms that the EU 2019/947 regulation applies in Norway.

EU regulations are divided into regulations and directives. The regulations for unmanned aviation are given as a regulation, so we will not discuss directives in this article.
In contrast to a Norwegian regulation, a European regulation that regulates unmanned aviation is divided into three parts. These are:

  • Implementing rule (IR)
  • Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC)
  • Guidance Material (GM)
    In short, the implementing rule (IR) is the overriding provision with requirements for the operators.

The provisions in an IR are divided into articles instead of what many in connection with Norwegian regulations would have called paragraphs.

The requirements of an article are often described very broadly. It may, for example, state that the operator must have a system in place to take care of accidents and incidents or use an accepted method to carry out risk analyzes. It says little about what is "good enough" to meet the requirement.

This leads us to acceptable means of compliance (AMC). AMC describes what it takes to meet the requirements of the individual articles. That is why in AMC you find what it takes to build "meat on the bone" when making manuals. In AMC you will find, among other things, the description of the SORA risk analysis method. In the phase we are in now, AMC will be updated relatively often. This means that you, as operators must follow when new AMC material arrives.

What about Guidance Material (GM), then? GM contains clarifications and useful information that can support both the aviation authorities and the operators. GM is not legally binding unless the operator refers to it or includes the content of GM in its manual.

Okey, this was a bit complex… Yes, you have three documents to deal with that are not updated at the same time. EASA has also realized that this is somewhat impractical and therefore publishes something called "Easy access rules", which is a document where all three parts are put together in a much more accessible way. These are published a while after the rules have been updated, so they may want to check that the version has been updated with the latest version of the regulations.

Easy access Rules can be found here.

If we put the common European regulations into the matrix, it can look like this:

Regulations Legally binding Update rate Rank
Implementing Rule Yes Rarely Parent
Acceptable Means of Compliance Yes, unless an AltMoC has been approved. Very often at first Below implementing rule
Guidance Material No  Very often at first Guidance