DJI Receives World’s First EU C1 Drone Certificate
Recently, there was a big announcement in the world of drones. On Aug. 18, 2022, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, was granted the first EU-type C1 drone certificate for their Mavic 3 series drone, under the new European Drone Regulation.
And, as the first C1 drone certificate ever issued, it’s making headlines all across the industry.
That’s because with DJI’s Mavic series already one of the most popular drones for hobbyists and professionals alike, this is a game-changer for pilots everywhere.
Let’s break down what the C1 drone certification means for you, why the Mavic 3 was chosen for certification, and everything else you need to know.
What Does This New C1 Drone Certification Mean?
The new C1 drone certificate places the Mavic 3 series in the A1 ‘Open’ category, which means it’s considered a low risk to third parties. This classification allows for more freedom in how and where you can fly.
Before certification, it was classified in the more restrictive A2 category. However, with new rules taking effect on Jan 1. 2024, it would be classified in the even more restrictive A3.
So, what does that really mean for you?
Well, the biggest difference is that you’ll no longer need to pass the challenging A2 “Remote Piloting License” exam. Instead, you’ll only need to pass the much simpler A1/A3 “Proof of Competence” basic drone certification.
Additionally, with new regulations set to take place in 2024, the Mavic would be placed in the much more restrictive A3 category. In this category, you wouldn’t be able to fly within 150 m of people, significantly reducing it’s operating locations. But, with the C1 certificate, the Mavic will stay in the A1 category.
That means you’ll be offered far more freedom to fly. Though you still won’t be able to fly over people, you’ll be able to fly close. With this C1 drone certification, you won’t need to maintain the 50 m minimum horizontal distance from other people.
To comply with this certification, all Mavic 3 devices will require a firmware update. Additionally, this certification will provide key advantages that take the ‘faff’ out of flying for many operators.
DJI has outlined the key differences between the new A1 category and the previous A2 category following C1 drone certification as follows:
- With C1 – You’ll fly in the A1 Open Category from now on and after 31 December 2023.
- Without C1 – You’ll fly in the A2 Open Category until 31 December 2023, then in the A3 Open Category after 1 January 2024.
- With C1 – You shouldn’t fly over uninvolved people (if it happens, it should be minimized); You cannot fly over groups of people.
- Without C1 – You can’t fly over uninvolved people, and you must keep a minimum of 50m horizontal distance from people until 31 December 2023.
After 1 January 2024, you’ll need to fly in areas free from people and at least 150m horizontal distance from properties.
Pilot Certification Requirements
- With C1 – Read the user manual, and obtain an A1/A3 “Proof of Competence” basic drone certificate by taking an officially-recognized online exam. However, there are no limitations on attempts before passing.
- Without C1 – You still must read the user manual, but you’ll need to obtain the more difficult and costly A2 “Remote Piloting License” by taking an officially- recognized online exam, and declaring self-practical training.
If you fail the testing, you’ll need to reapply for the exam (with possible additional costs involved).
Why Has This Happened?
DJI’s Mavic 3 has achieved this certificate from the official body, TÜV Rheinland, due to the system’s successful C1 compliance. These features include mechanical strength, safe controllability in a wide range of flight conditions, as well as lower sound output from the device.
To achieve the first C1 drone certification, let’s take a look at the specific criteria the Mavic 3 met.
First, the Mavic 3 series meets the new noise reduction limit of 83db or less.
The Mavic 3 series also includes other important features, such as a remote identification system, a reliable data link, as well as a data interface for a geo-awareness system to comply with airspace limitations.
Additionally, a few other key safety features stand out. Most notably:
- When the ActiveTrack Intelligent Flight Mode is used to film people or objects, the distance from the person/object will be limited to 50 m. Beyond 50 m, ActiveTrack will be disabled.
- Auxiliary LEDs will automatically turn on or off during use, based on the actual environment.
- The LEDs at the front arms of the drone will blink by default for the duration of the UAV being powered on.
The reliability of the data link, the physical ability of the drone, and built-in safety features all played significant roles in achieving C1 drone certification.
When and Where Is the C1 Drone Certification Valid?
According to DJI, all customers will be able to obtain the new C1 class identification label for the Mavic 3 series starting in Q4 2022.
C1 drone certification is valid across the European Economic Area (EEA, i.e. EU plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), and applies to all hardware and C1-updated-firmware of the current DJI Mavic 3 series.
Does the C1 Drone Certificate Only Apply to the Mavic 3?
For right now, yes; only the Mavic 3 qualifies for this certification.
But, there could be hope on the horizon if you’d rather stick to other DJI models.
DJI states “We will work with notified bodies to obtain additional drone certificates over the coming year,” showing their commitment to complying with the new European drone regulation for other existing and future drone models.
So, while only the Mavic 3 is currently certified, more models may achieve the status in the future.
What Do You Need To Do?
If you have a Mavic 3 series drone, you can apply for the C1 identification in Q4 of 2022.
Applying for this is voluntary, easy, and completely free. All that’s required is your drone’s serial number, as well as confirmation that your drone has been updated to the new firmware offered in the DJI app when released.
Though a Remote Piloting License will no longer be necessary, pilots will still need to obtain an A1/A3 “Proof of Competence” basic drone certificate by taking an officially recognized theory course online.
Even if you don’t own a Mavic 3, this is still exciting news. For years, drone capabilities have outpaced existing regulations, essentially ‘handcuffing’ them from their full potential.
But now, with DJI receiving the first C1 drone certificate ever, it demonstrates shifting attitudes towards regulating the industry.
Hopefully, regulations will continue to relax, as hardware and software continues to produce safer, more reliable drones.