DIRITTO E POLITICA DEI TRASPORTI (ISSN 2612-5056), I/2020, p. 7 – 28
Abstract. The “special” regulation on Remotely Piloted Aircraft adopted by ENAC to limit the coronavirus
epidemiologic emergency effects. The paper focuses on the multilevel (Italian and European) regulation on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA). In the first part of the work, it has been analysed some conceptual aspects of RPAs and mentioned the regulations currently in force in the relevant regulatory field, taking into account the most important recent initiatives undertaken over the last year, and specifically the Issue No. 3 of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority
(ENAC) on drones, which dates back to 11 November 2019, as well as the European Union Regulations Nos. 2019/945 and 2019/947, this latter as amended by Commission implementing Regulation EU 2020/746 of 4 June 2020. In its second part, the work focuses on the different uses of RPA systems. In particular, it has been pointed out that in recent years RPAs are more and more used for public and institutional purposes. In Italy, like in other European countries, State police forces use RPAs for land monitoring for order and public security purposes. In such cases, RPAs fall within the definition of State aircraft, to which neither the Navigation Code nor the ENAC regulations find application.
Within this scope (drones used for public and institutional purposes) the paper then examines the recent “special” regulation adopted by ENAC on 23 March 2020 (subsequently temporally extended more than once). Such regulation aims at limiting the emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic, laying down derogations from specific provisions of the 2019 ENAC Regulation on RPAs. More in details, ENAC authorizes State bodies and local police to use RPAs in its (direct or indirect) availability for monitoring movements of citizens within the local (municipal) territory. The Civil Aviation Authority expressly excludes that the RPAs used for this aim can be qualified as State aircraft. However, several arguments seem to lead to the opposite conclusion, namely that RPAs used during the epidemiological pandemic may be seen as State aircrafts.