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Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

Latest update 14/12/2016: please see below for more details.

Overview

Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) are increasingly being used in European airspace, but with a limited regulatory framework. Basic national safety rules apply to the operation of RPAS, but even these differ across EU Member States and safeguards are not being addressed in a coherent way.

EASA published a formal Technical Opinion in December 2015 which laid down the foundation for all future work regarding the development of rules, guidance material and safety promotion. ERA welcomed the opinion but believe that more needs to be done with the increase in use of RPAS, coupled with wider availability - such devices can easily be purchased online and with very little or no safety guidance material. The recent number of reported near misses between RPAS and commercial aircraft supports ERA concerns.

Update

Latest update 14/12/2016: The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) created a Task Force (involving aircraft and engine manufacturers) which assessed the risk of collision between RPAS and aircraft. The Task Force reviewed all relevant occurrences, analysed existing data and studied the vulnerabilities of aircraft components (for example windshields, engines and airframes). A follow-up workshop designed to present and discuss the Task Force's findings and recommendations is being planned for September.

In June 2016 EASA published a ‘Prototype’ Commission Regulation on unmanned aircraft operations. The Prototype Regulation proposed actual rules providing the necessary clarity, notably on the responsibilities of the Member States and the flexibility offered to them. The Regulation was called a ‘Prototype’ to reflect the fact that it should help in preparing the formal rulemaking process that will follow. The intention was to publish the Prototype Regulation and gather reactions which will be used to develop the necessary Notice of Proposed Amendments in the latter part of 2016. The Prototype Regulation and associated explanatory notes can be viewed via the Downloads section of this page. 
 
On 25 August 2016 the Directorate attended a meeting in Brussels which comprised of numerous EU stakeholders, with the aim of formulating and agreeing a Joint Stakeholder Statement on RPAS Safety at EU level. The overall objective is that the Joint Statement will be an important and high level political message so that the stakeholders' concerns regarding drones are taken seriously. The statement identifies that all stakeholders support the efforts of European regulators to produce a more robust and harmonised EU-wide regulatory safety framework for drones. In addition, the Joint Statement expresses concerns about the safety of manned aircraft in both controlled and uncontrolled airspace.

The Directorate attended a high-level conference held in Warsaw on 23–24 November about ‘Drones as a leverage for jobs and new business opportunities’, which was organised jointly by the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction, EASA and the Polish Civil Aviation Authority.  The Warsaw conference was structured to build on the ‘Riga Declaration’ of March 2015, and assess how an EU drone services market could be safely established by 2019. The aim of the conference was to identify concrete actions to deliver jobs and growth in full respect of safety, privacy, security and environmental protection.  At the end of the conference, the ‘Warsaw Declaration’ was agreed which will establish directive and development of the drone sector within the EU for the future.  A copy of the Declaration can be viewed in the downloads section on this page.

Useful Links

www.dronerules.eu

Contacts

For further assistance please contact christopher.mason@eraa.org