First ever EU-wide rules for civil drones of all sizes, probably in force by next August

© EU Council.

The Council today adopted updated aviation safety rules, which include a revised mandate for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the first ever EU-wide rules for civil drones of all sizes.

“These rules will ensure that flying remains safe even when our skies become increasingly busy,” said Ivaylo Moskovski, Bulgarian Minister for Transport, Information Technology and Communications.

Following the data provided by the EU Council, by 2035 the EU drone sector is expected to create 100,000 jobs and generate over €10 Bn per year.

The drone opportunity and the problem, explained by EASA

Unmanned aircraft (or ‘drones’) is a fast developing sector of aviation, with great potential for producing new jobs and growth. The term ‘unmanned aircraft’ includes very large aircraft similar in size and complexity to manned aircraft, but also very small consumer electronics aircraft.

Especially smaller drones are increasingly being used in the European Union (EU), but under a fragmented regulatory framework. Although national safety rules apply, the rules differ across the Union and a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.

The purpose of the new rules is to create the right conditions so that the EU has the capacity to handle the expected air traffic increase of 50% over the next 20 years and to ensure that the EU aviation sector is prepared for tough global competition.

Owners will be obligued to register drones over the 80 Joules impact threshold

The reform introduces proportionate and risk-based rules designed to enable the EU aviation sector to grow, make it more competitive and encourage innovation. First provisional deal on this issue was concluded with the European Parliament on 29 November 2017.
The rules on drones establish the basic principles to ensure safety, security, privacy, data protection and environmental protection.

The text defines the registration threshold for drone operators: operators must be registered if their drones are capable of transferring more than 80 Joules of kinetic energy upon impact with a person.

Sport and recreational aviation will be subject to simpler and cheaper approval procedures than those applicable for commercial air transport.

The other detailed rules on drones will be set by the Commission with help from EASA, on the basis of the principles outlined in this regulation.

New Regulation expected to enter in force by August this year

Today’s Council vote concludes the legislative procedure at first reading. The European Parliament voted on 12 June 2018. The regulation will be signed by both institutions and published in the EU Official Journal, probably by the end of July. It will enter into force 20 days after publication.

Image over the headline.- Drone test for a service of parcel delivery that Correos and Telegrafos of Spain carried out in Asturias (Spain) in December 2015.© Sociedad de Correos y Telegrafos.

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