Original publication: September 2016
Authors: EuroUSC-Italia: Prof. Filippo Tomasello, University Giustino Fortunato, Benevento, Italy
EuroUSC-Italia: Ing. Marco Ducci
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2Es4n38
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Background

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) are quickly developing worldwide. They are used for a number of applications ranging from surveillance and security to aerial photography, pipeline and power-line inspection, precision agriculture, media and entertainment, and many others. The risks associated with the operations of drones are already well defined and are being addressed globally. The main risks from the societal point of view include:

Safety Risks

  • People and properties on the ground
  • Other Airspace Users
  • Critical infrastructure and mass meetings

Other Risks

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • The environment

Third party liability and insurance are also part of the most significant societal concerns, as underlined in the European Parliament Resolution of 29 October 2015.

 

Aim

This note attempts to give some organisation to the long list of issues to be addressed, to identify how much the current regulatory framework and technology enablers are contributing to address these issues and to propose recommendations for corrective actions.

The analysis highlights that, from a regulatory perspective, the proposal for a new regulation on common rules in the field of civil aviation, currently undergoing the EU legislative process, already addresses most of these issues. However, some improvements could be considered to better cope with the identified safety risks.

In particular, there could still be the opportunity to clarify the text of such a new aviation regulation by:

a) Including additional definitions for “manned aircraft” to clearly distinguish them from drones (currently it is not clear how optionally piloted aircraft are classified) and for “model aircraft”, which would otherwise need to be mentioned in several implementing rules;

b) Extending a definition to encompass new providers that are going to be responsible for the provision of services to drones such as Command & Control Link or Traffic Management;

c) Referring to security, e.g. aspects linked to personnel (e.g. giving them a badge after proper checks) and to physical protection of equipment (e.g. storing the small UAS when not in use and controlling access to the station on the ground);

d) Clarifying the role and privileges of Qualified Entities, including the assessment of competence of the remote pilots;

e) Mandating that even UAS in the “open” category, when marked and registered, be recorded in the repository established by the legislative proposal. In fact, drones in such a category can weigh up to 25 kg (i.e. capable of fatally injuring a person, as well as to carry a payload of a few kilos), and it would be desirable, to protect citizens even beyond safety, to include them in the common repository.

In addition, it might also be relevant to include the same definition of “model aircraft” in Regulation 785/2004 to clearly define what is excluded from the obligation to hold insurance.

Finally, it could be clarified that flights carried out by EU Agencies are subject to civil rules, since they are not under the responsibility of any Member State.

The regulatory framework envisaged above would be supported by appropriate implementing measures (EASA has already published “prototype rules”) and mature technical solutions which could support in the mitigation of the safety risks associated with the use of drones in airspace. Industry has a leading role in the development of these technical solutions through standardisation bodies, such as CEN, CENELEC, ETSI, EUROCAE, ISO and others, most desirably in coordination with EASA. Public funding could speed up the development and reduce the time required to reach an adequate level of maturity. In this respect, European Agencies and SESAR JU in particular might continue fostering research initiatives on drones in both the short and the long term.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/585-894

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