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Europe’s Drone Industry Set to Receive Harmonized Rulebook

Among the conclusions drawn at the High Level Conference on Drones in Amsterdam last November, was that the European Commission and the EU Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) would work closely with Member States and industry stakeholders to continue developing a framework for continent-wide drone regulations.

Read more: Inside EASA’s High Level Conference on Drones: the New European Regulatory Framework

That process has been underway for several years. A big step toward harmonization of EU drone rules was taken when the ‘Implementing Act’ was voted through by EU Member States back in February.

Consumer and commercial drone pilots in Europe can now look forward to a clear set of rules covering most of the continent. Today marks the end of the scrutiny period on the EASA’s implementing rules for operational and technical requirements for drones.

The EU’s drone technical rules are a major step toward the integration of drones into the continent’s airspace. A unified framework will be a positive for Europe’s drone business, which has long had to deal with differing regulations across borders.

Drone Manufacturers Alliance Europe, which includes DJI and Parrot, published a statement today applauding the EASA’s progress.

“DMAE is appreciative that European regulators sought our industry expertise and took onboard our ideas and feedback. Their final rules reflect thoughtful input from drone pilots and drone-enabled businesses across Europe, who benefit from this exciting technology while keeping safety as their paramount goal. We are pleased that the final technical rules reflect our advocacy efforts and dialogue with regulators over the past three years,” said Paula Iwaniuk of DMAE.

Practical repercussions of EASA’s new framework

The practical results of the impending legislation are as follows:

  • Mandating technical solutions and requirements that will increase aviation safety by helping to identify airborne drones, keeping unauthorised operations away from airports (i.e. geoawareness) and other no-fly zones, and establishing essential requirements to ensure drones are safe to use (i.e. remote identification).
  • Facilitating a culture of compliance amongst drone operators by creating the first set of clear and coherent rules, backed by measures to educate operators and the general public about their obligations and responsibilities, including registration.
  • Keeping the European skies open for innovation by creating an internal market for drones and drone operations/services while avoiding diverging and contradictory national requirements.

“Member States, industry and operators can finally take those written rules and transform them into a tangible European drone market that is based on safety, education and risk. The three operational risk categories bring much-needed clarity, and give the public some peace of mind. It will also be exciting to see what innovation, what drone applications will leapfrog,” added Paula Iwaniuk.

Read more: DJI Supports UK UTM Tests

DMAE wants the European Commission to continue to drive the development of an ambitious framework for drones with a modular approach that is based on evidence and real-life demand.

“Today’s milestone is just another step in the overall big picture for the drone market – the regulatory framework will need to continue to expand as more evidence and data is collected, as new market demands pop up. We turn our attention to implementation, where education will play a key role, but also on creating Standard Scenarios for medium-risk operations. And of course, the development of U-Space,” said Iwaniuk

Once translated, the texts will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union towards the end of May.

DJI: Harmonized requirements will facilitate and foster stronger European drone industry

“Today marks the end of a three-year process in which DJI has played a key role alongside many other stakeholders in the drone industry,” said Christian Struwe, Head of European Public Policy at DJI.

“We believe these new harmonised operational and technical requirements will help facilitate and foster an even stronger drone industry in Europe. Consumers will now be able to take their drones abroad without having to worry about differing rules from back home, and commercial operators will be presented with new territories in which to grow their business.

This new harmonised drone rulebook opens up the first chapter to increase aviation safety, grow drone operator compliance and understanding, and it keeps the European skies open to innovation. We look forward to being part of a successful, continuing story as the rules will come into force over the next four years.”

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