RPAS/Drone Operations in the European Union (EU) The EU Operation Centric Approach

RPAS/drone technology brings radical changes and creates opportunities for new services and applications. They represent a tremendous opportunity both for the aeronautical manufacturing industry, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, and for the many aviation and non-aviation businesses that will be able to integrate them into their activities, and increase their efficiency and competitiveness.

RPAS/drone technology poses a regulatory challenge. Today’s aviation safety rules are not adapted to RPAS/drone operations. Given the broad variety of types of RPAS/drones being used under highly differing operation conditions, the regulatory framework must move from an aircraft centric approach towards an operation centric approach. The particular risk of a particular operation is the starting point.  In addition to safety, concerns related to privacy and data protection, security, liability and insurance, and the environment, will have to be taken into account.

The global RPAS/drone technology needs a large single market. To facilitate free circulation, and for safety reasons, all drones must be covered, even small ones. And the rules must be kept proportionate to risk to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as start-ups, are not hampered by heavy and costly rules and procedures. And the performance based rules will seek, as far as possible, to rely on industry standards.

The European Commission, in coordination with its agencies, is aggressively addressing the RPAS/drone topic, and is being encouraged by the European Parliament to move rapidly. At the RPAS 2016 conference, representatives of the European Commission and its agencies will supply coordinated presentations on their RPAS/drones related work and how this process will unfold.