The European Union is seeking to set new rules on the use of civil remotely-piloted air systems (RPAS). The step comes as the European Commission has expressed concern at current fragmented national regulatory regimes covering areas such as safety, privacy, insurance and liability.
The EU will conduct an impact assessment this year examining the problem, which it says may result in legislative proposals. The European Aviation Safety Agency is also being asked to develop safety standards for RPAS equivalent to those for manned aircraft.
The initiatives aim to meet the EU’s objective of ensuring progressive integration of RPAS into its airspace from 2016.
The Commission's mobility and transport vice-president Siim Kallas says civil drones are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in areas such as crop-spraying and monitoring natural disasters.
"If ever there was a right time to [set new rules], and to do this at a European level, it is now,” he says. “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."