Transport MEPs back draft EU drone rules

Plans to update EU civil aviation safety rules to address emerging risks were amended and approved by transport committee MEPs today.

The updated EU regulation will also introduce the EU-level requirements for drones, to ensure safety and privacy.

“EU aviation safety standards are already high. Even so, the growing use of drones and threats from terrorism and cyber-attacks require new rules to ensure aviation safety and security. At the same time, these rules should be performance and risk based – ultralight or business aviation should not have to meet the same requirements,” said rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu.

“Unmanned aircraft have great potential for the future. Many applications are already providing various services, with better quality and results. At the same time, without proper discipline, these could give rise to serious safety and security problems. Registration and identification are basic requirements. Unmanned aircraft with a take-off mass higher than 250 grammes and all certified ones should be registered,” he added.

Identify risks early

The committee text includes provisions for safety management systems at EU and member state levels to identify potential safety risks earlier. A European Aviation Safety Programme should be drawn up and each EU member state should also establish its own national aviation safety programme and a plan setting out key safety risks for its civil aviation safety system and actions to mitigate them.

“Socio-economic factors” (e.g. employment conditions) should be taken into account, when identifying risks to aviation safety and mitigating measures, MEPs, add.

Drones to be registered

The proposed update would also bring all unmanned aircraft, or drones, within the EU civil aviation framework for the first time, setting out design and operation requirements to ensure privacy and safety. Drones lighter than 150kg fall currently under national competence.

The EU Commission would be tasked with defining detailed safety rules for drone design and drone flights, such as conditions in which additional equipment is required to limit altitude or access to critical zones (e.g. power plants or airports). The Commission should also set out conditions and procedures for mandatory registration, marking and identification of unmanned aircraft, say MEPs. All certified drones, plus those that are not certified and have a maximum take-off weight above 250 grammes, should be registered”, they add.

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