European aviation stakeholders have issued a Joint Statement calling for “a robust harmonized EU-wide regulatory safety framework” to ensure the safe integration of drones into European airspace. The call comes on the heels of the FAA’s introduction of the first operational rules for routine commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in June.
Industry associations are concerned about a string of recent incidents in the vicinity of European airports or close to low-level helicopter operations. The signatories of the statement note that recreational use of drones is rapidly increasing and the related risk of incidents and accidents with manned aviation must be mitigated. Irresponsible recreational and commercial drone use, they say, constitutes serious safety risks that are often under-estimated.
The statement has been signed by Airlines for Europe (A4E), Airports Council International Europe (ACI EUROPE), Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO), European Cockpit Association (ECA), European Helicopter Association (EHA), European Regions Airline Association (ERAA), International Air Carrier Association (IACA), International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA).
To ensure safe drone operations – and in the absence of a European legal framework for drones below 150 kg – many European Member States have introduced regulations for drones at national level. However, these national rules are not harmonized and some of them regulate commercial drone operators in no stricter manner than for recreational users.
Accordingly the signatories are calling for the introduction of a number of measures for all types of drones in addition to the request of a clear, stricter and robust legal framework for commercial drone operations:
- Extensive public awareness campaign
- Registration of all drones
- Mandatory training and certificate/license
- Technical Performance Limitations
- In-depth research into the impact of collisions between drones and manned aircraft
- Integration of recreational drones into national Model Aircraft Flying Regulations
- Increase in the effectiveness of enforcement.