Ireland bends the rules for commercial operators


The Irish Aviation Authority have introduced an 8-month exemption, for commercial drone pilots only, from the standard Open A2 separation distances. It allows them to fly a non C-class drone down to 30m horizontal separation for a drone <1kg, and down to 10m if they can limit speed to <5m/s.

Legally, this is quite bizarre. They’ve invoked Article 71 of IR 2019/1139, which is intended to allow exemptions from aviation safety law “in the event of urgent unforeseeable circumstances” where “it is not possible to adequately address those circumstances or needs in compliance with the applicable requirements”.

There’s nothing urgent or unforeseeable about this, and the need for commercial operators to be able to fly closer than the standard A2 limits is already covered by flying in the Specific category anyway, which can allow much closer separation distances.

It’s also bizarre that they are granting this only to commercial pilots on the basis that their flights are “operationally urgent”. That goes completely against the intention of the regulations which is to address safety risk and not discriminate according to the purpose of the flight. It would seem to against the 2019/1139 requirement to apply any exemption “in a non-discriminatory manner”.

Why is the exemption only for 8 months? Because if it’s any longer, the law requires EASA to “call them in” to review whether the exemption is legally justified. This is a “what can we get away with” dodge.

I think the chance of the CAA taking this approach are a big fat zero.


It also takes them, rather conveniently, to 1st January 2023.


Sorry, ignore that, I clearly can’t count.

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