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Latest update 21 December 2018


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Latest update 21/12/2018: Events at London’s Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom during December 2018 highlighted only too clearly the threat and disruption that drones can have on the aviation community.  Whereas there can be little argument that drone operations in a regulated and monitored environment can have vast commercial benefits, the use of drones by an individual with little knowledge of airport/airspace infringement and/or disregard to aviation safety in general can cause both major disruption and pose a serious threat to the safety of an aircraft. 

The use of airport geo-fencing systems which triangulate and track the trajectory of a drone will go some way to combating this menace, although further development of this method is required.  In the meantime it is imperative that all governments take the necessary steps to expedite the regulation process of drone operations, both commercial and recreational.  Additionally, at the last meeting of the ERA Air Safety Group in December 2018 it was agreed that Drones will be one of the ‘Top 5’ Critical Safety Concerns that the group will focus during the next two years.

During 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, including all relevant occurrences, analysis of existing data and a study of the vulnerabilities of aircraft components.  In June 2016 EASA published a ‘Prototype’ Commission Regulation on unmanned aircraft operations that proposed actual rules providing the necessary clarity, notably on the responsibilities of the Member States and the flexibility offered to them.
The Directorate attended a high-level conference held in Warsaw on 23–24 November 2016 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.