EU Grabbing Drone Traffic Regulation by The Horns

drone traffic regulation

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The EU has recently presented a blueprint to safely regulate drone traffic in Europe by 2019 in order to tap the growing commercial potential for unmanned aircraft technology. The blueprint from the European Commission covers allowing drones to operate in high density under the supervision of fleet operators.

“Drones mean innovation, new services for citizens, new business models and a huge potential for economic growth,” EU Transport Minister, Violeta Bulc, told the DailyStar. “We want to be in the driving seat and have a safe drone services market up and running by 2019. We need to take a leading role worldwide in developing the right framework for this market to flourish, by unleashing the benefits for key economic sectors.”

The idea is to build a system similar to that of Air Traffic Management for manned aviation, that would supply information to allow drones to fly safely and avoid obstacles or collisions. The aim is to have the regulatory framework functioning by 2019, with basic services like registration and e-identification. The European Commission said it hopes negotiations involving the European Parliament and 28 member states will be completed by the end of the year as a key part of the process.

The commission cited estimates that the drone services market could grow up to 127 billion euros in the next few years. Current common European rules only cover drones weighing above 150 kilograms.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which sets global standards for the aviation industry, counted 856 cases worldwide between January 2013 and August 2015 of a drone getting too close to a plane for comfort. According to IATA, 65 countries currently have rules for the use of small drones.

Among EU countries, France is a pioneer. Government decrees already regulate drone use and parliament has voted in a law coming into force next year that will punish users of drones flying over airports and other sensitive areas with fines or prison.