European Commission calls for tough standards to regulate civil drones
The European Commission has today proposed to set tough new standards to
regulate the operations of civil drones (or "remotely piloted aircraft sytems" –
The new standards will cover safety, security, privacy, data protection,
insurance and liability.
The aim is to allow European industry to become a global leader in the market
for this emerging technology, while at the same time ensuring that all the
necessary safeguards are in place.
Civil drones are increasingly being used in Europe, in countries such as
Sweden, France and the UK, in different sectors, but under a fragmented
Basic national safety rules apply, but the rules differ across the EU and a
number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said:
"Civil drones can check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural
disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy.
They come in all shapes and sizes.
In the future they may even deliver books from your favourite online
But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security
and privacy issues relating to these devices."
The technology for civil drones is maturing and there is potential for
significant growth and job creation.
On some estimates in the next 10 years it could be worth 10% of the aviation
market — that's €15 billion per year.
The Vice-President added, "If ever there was a right time to do this, and to
do this at a European level, it is now. Because remotely piloted aircraft,
almost by definition, are going to cross borders and the industry is still in
We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can
work with, just like we do for larger aircraft."
The new standards will cover the following areas
Strict EU wide rules on safety authorisations.
Safety is the first priority for EU aviation policy.
EU standards will be based on the principle that civil drones (remotely
piloted aircraft) must provide an equivalent level of safety to 'manned'
EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, will start developing specific
EU-wide standards for remotely piloted aircraft.
Tough controls on privacy and data protection.
Data collected by remotely piloted aircraft, must comply with the applicable
data protection rules and data protection authorities must monitor the
subsequent collection and processing of personal data.
The Commission will assess how to ensure data protection rules apply fully to
remotely piloted aircraft and propose changes or specific guidance where it is
Controls to ensure security.
Civil drones can be subject to potential unlawful actions and security
threats, like other aircraft.
EASA will start work to develop the necessary security requirements,
particularly to protect information streams, and then propose specific legal
obligations for all players concerned (e.g.air traffic management, the operator,
the telecom service providers), to be enforced by national authorities.
A clear framework for liability and insurance.
The current third-party insurance regime has been established mostly in terms
of manned aircraft, where mass (starting from 500kg) determines the minimum
amount of insurance.
The Commission will assess the need to amend the current rules to take into
account the specificities of remotely piloted aircraft.
Streamlining R&D and supporting new industry.
The Commission will streamline R&D work, in particular the EU R&D funds
managed by the SESAR Joint Undertaking to keep lead times for promising
technologies for the insertion of RPAS into the European airspace as short as
SMEs and start-ups in the sector will get industrial support to develop
appropriate technologies (under Horizon 2020 and COSME programmes).
What happens next?
The Commission will carry out in 2014 an in-depth impact assessment to
examine the issues and define the best options to address them.This may be
followed by a legislative proposal, to be approved by Member States and the
In addition, EASA can immediately start to develop the necessary safety
Other measures may include support actions under existing EU programmes such
as SESAR, Horizon 2020 or COSME.
All this work aims to meet the stated objective of the European Council of
December 2013 to ensure the progressive integration of RPAS into airspace as