The European Commission today adopted common EU-wide rules setting technical requirements for drones. They will set features and capabilities that drones must have in order to be flown safely and, at the same time, help foster investment and innovation in this promising sector. The EU rules build on national rules that were in place and now provide a harmonized framework across the European Union.
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Today’s decision is vital for the further development of the European drone sector. We wholeheartedly support the development of these new technologies and services, which are essential for the digitalisation and decarbonisation of the European economy. However, above all, we have to ensure that they are safe for other airspace users and people on the ground. The rules adopted today are a first building block for a comprehensive set of rules, which will ensure safe, secure and green drone operations throughout the European Union.”
The approach taken by the Commission, with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, is to apply the highest safety standards achieved in manned aviation to drones as well. The rules are based on an assessment of the risk of operation, and strike a balance between the obligations of drone manufacturers and operators in terms of safety, respect for privacy, the environment, protection against noise, and security. For example, new drones will have to be individually identifiable, allowing the authorities to trace a particular drone if necessary. In addition to the technical requirements for drones adopted today, the Commission intends to adopt provisions covering the operation of drones. The rules will cover each operation type, from those not requiring prior permission, to those involving certified aircraft and operators, as well as minimum remote pilot training requirements.
Today’s adoption contributes to a major deliverable under the Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe whose core objective is to support the competitiveness of the EU’s Aviation Industry and reinforce its global leadership.
In addition to the technical requirements for drones adopted today, the Commission intends to adopt provisions covering the operation of drones. The rules will cover each operation type, from those not requiring prior permission, to those involving certified aircraft and operators, as well as minimum remote pilot training requirements. These technical and operational rules will also replace any national rules on drones that may currently exist in the different Member States. From 2020, drones will have to be registered with national authorities.
The EU approach will ensure that drone operators – whether recreational or professional – will have a clear understanding of what is allowed or not. Operators will also be able to operate their drones seamlessly when travelling across the EU or when developing a business involving drones around Europe. Common rules will help foster investment and innovation in this promising sector.
Following the entry into force of the new aviation safety Basic Regulation, setting rules for unmanned aircraft, irrespective of their weight, is a Commission competence. The updated Regulation also empowers the Commission to adopt delegated acts laying down detailed rules with regard to the necessary features and functionalities for unmanned aircraft.