EU Commission working on stricter rules for drones

April 9, 2014 14:03 | By | 2 Comments

The European Commission has today proposed to set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones (or “remotely piloted aircraft sytems” – RPAS). 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 regulatory framework. 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 retailer. 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 its infancy. We have an opportunity now to make a single set of rules that everyone can work with, just like we do for larger aircraft.”


So much for the press release by the European Commission. Interestingly, nobody talks about regulating the sale and use of ladders, to help prevent people from peeking into your bedroom. If anyone was hoping for a liberal, progressive stance on the private and commercial use of UAVs by the EU Commission, today’s news is less than positive, to put it mildly.

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  1. jeremiah says:

    So where does the rc hobby fall into this?

    • fpvcentral says:

      The line from RC hobby to “regulated UAV” is a thin one:

      In Austria for example, the law now cares not whether you do it for fun or for a living. The law just states that if your flight is just for the purposes of flying, you are a RC hobbyist. If your flight purpose is to “make an awesome youtube video”, or to “shoot a nice picture of a sunset”, you have to get a UAV permit and, if you fly in a populated area: a full pilot license, a medical flight status examination, a noise certificate, keep a logbook, and pay several hundred euros *per takeoff*.

      (Incidentally, there’s no requirement to have radio contact with a controller, or having a transponder aboard the UAV, which is why it’s unlikely that safety was the biggest driving factor here…)

      Is flying at an RC airshow “just for the purpose of flying”? Is a F3A competition “just for the purpose of flying”? We don’t know. All we have is this vague definition which may or may not mean that your next youtube video can result in a hefty fine, whether you think you’re in the clear or not.

      The laws in Austria are in effect NOW, it’s no longer theoretical, and the people behind that law are global players who are pushing for a specific set of rules not so much because of safety, but because of business interests. Don’t believe that you are safe just because you don’t do this for money.

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