Europe Lays out Risk-Based Approach to Regulating Drones

Posted by Betsy Lillian on March 12, 2015 No Comments
Categories : Policy & Regulations

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has presented a new regulatory, risk-based approach for safely operating remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

The announcement marks a significant change in the way aviation safety regulations are developed, becoming proportionate to the risks they aim to address, says Germany-based EASA, which is the centerpiece of the European Union’s strategy for aviation safety.

Called “Concept of Operations,” the new approach foresees safe and proportionate rules for the integration of RPAS into the European civil airspace. It gives flexibility to the new industry to mature and innovate and, at the same time, ensures the right level of protection for citizens and goods, says EASA.

“Certification will be required for operations with a higher associated risk due to the kind of operation or might be requested on a voluntary basis by organisations providing services such as remote piloting or equipment such as detect and avoid,” the Concept of Operations states.

For example, the concept defines three RPAS categories – open, certified and specific:

  • “An open category for the operation which can be overseen through the police – as for cars, for instance – does not require any authorisation by Aviation Authorities. This group of operations would only be submitted to a minimal aviation regulatory system, concentrating mainly on defining the limits of such a category of operations.”
  • “As soon as an operation starts posing more significant aviation risks to persons overflown or involves sharing the airspace, the operation would be placed in a specific category. For these activities, each specific aviation risk would be analysed, and mitigation would be agreed by the authorities before the operation can start, based on a safety risk assessment. This would be materialised by the issuance of an authorization.”
  • “When the aviation risks rise to a level akin to normal manned aviation, the operation would be positioned in the category of certified operations. These operations and the aircraft involved therein would be treated in the classic aviation manner. Multiple certificates would be issued as for manned aviation plus some more specific to unmanned aircraft.”

The safety rules that will be developed at the European level will be based on this Concept of Operations and on the regulations already adopted in some EU member states. They will be harmonized at the global level with international standards, says EASA.

“This concept is the first tangible result of the new regulatory approach in EASA, where we first listen to the users, and then we draft rules proportional to the risks,” says Patrick Ky, executive director of EASA. “These rules will ensure a safe and fertile environment for this much promising industry to grow.”

The full Concept of Operations can be found here.

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