On 26 June 2018, the European Council adopted a new Regulation for aviation safety across the European Union, including a particular focus on drones. Drones, used in large numbers by users across many classifications, are now an active part of European air space. Military, governmental, business-related, and private civilian drone operators can fly small-to-large sized aircrafts in the same air space as commercial airliners, which are heavily regulated. With these new capabilities comes new risks. These are risks for human safety, environmental safety and for the drone industry itself. Putting at risk the safety of aviation and the social acceptance of drones, a small percentage of pilots flying in no-fly zones has given rise to widely reported news articles. This new regulation aims to mitigate these risks by facilitating the development of an informed culture for drone safety and supporting the rising drone industry.
The Regulation establishes a new mandate for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to cover EU aviation and drone standards, requesting they lay down a thorough list of principles. As it stands, drone rules are regulated solely within each Member State. This newly adopted Regulation mandates EASA to create legislation, or basic rules that apply across the EU. It is not meant to be a catchall for all drones and all rules across the EU, but rather a starting point for EU drone rules and a building block for standards in Member States.
The principles discussed in the Regulation focus on human, drone, environmental and general aviation safety. The Regulation specifically considers the operating threshold for a drone operator to be registered (if your drone can transfer more than 80 Joules of kinetic energy upon impact with a person, you must be registered), as well as recent requirements resulting from the entry into force of the General Data Protection Rules (GDPR).
This Regulation is the start of a new standard for drone rules in the EU. EASA will work more closely with drone experts and civilians to create rules that complement the needs of industries and users. Upon the adoption of the legislation mandated by this regulation, the drone industry in Europe will have a guided path to safer use and safer growth.
The regulation can be found online, here.