On 12 June, the European Parliament adopted new aviation safety rules to provide clearer and more consistent laws for the use of drones, or unmanned aircraft, in European airspace.
Keen to harness the rapidly-expanding drones sector, the European Parliament and Council have reached a provisional agreement on a new regulation for civil aviation safety. This new regulation will repeal and replace the EU's current aviation regulation and includes the first ever EU wide rules on drones.
In the current European legislative framework, whether drones are regulated at an EU or national level is determined by their operating mass – a system which can, at times, be inconsistent and complex. In contrast, the new regulation is designed to apply broadly covering the design, production and maintenance of drones operated within the EU by an EU aircraft operator, and all drone parts. Exceptions are made for drones/aircraft of simple design, which will remain governed by national arrangements, and those operated by the military, customs and police.
The following changes have been introduced:
- a definition of unmanned aircraft;
- an annex outlining the essential requirements for unmanned aircraft (including requirements for the operators of unmanned aircraft); and
- mandatory registration of certain types of unmanned aircraft and their operators (using a risk-based proportionate approach).
The regulation's broader aims range from establishing and maintaining a high uniform level of civil aviation security and safety to promoting worldwide the EU's views regarding civil aviation standards. To achieve these aims the Commission intends to:
- take measures to improve civil aviation safety standards;
- develop detailed technical standards;
- establish an independent European Union Aviation Safety Agency (the Agency); and
- introduce more effective information sharing between the Commission, Agency and competent authorities of the Member States, to ensure that they work as a single European aviation safety system.
These rules will now be considered by the Commission who will work to produce an implementing act to apply the law across the EU, in consultation with a committee of representatives from Member States.
Get in touch if you have any questions about how the European Union is pushing the drones sector to infinity and beyond.
The European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 June 2018 can be found here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P8-TA-2018-0245
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