European Aviation Safety Agency publishes opinion on UAVs

By Ann Bailey | December 22, 2015

The European Aviation Safety Agency has published a technical opinion on the safe use of UAVs in the continent’s civil air space.

The opinion establishes the foundation for all future work for the development of rules, guidance material and to ensure safety promotion and that the impact of UAS on the aviation system is minimized, according to the EASA. The goal is to provide a framework that is proportionate to the activity and ensures safety, at the same time it allows the UAV industry to grow, an EASA news release said.

The technical opinion also will be used as a guideline for European Union members that don’t have rules for small UAS or that plan to modify their existing rules so that they are consistent with the future EU rules. The technical opinion also is a roadmap to presenting future steps, the news release said.

The EU has proposed to set new standards, including safety, security and privacy, to regulate UAV operations. The EU wants to allow European industry to become a global market leader for UAV while ensuring that all the necessary safeguards are in place.

The EASA opinion is made up of 27 proposals for operating all UAS. The proposals primary focus is how the UAV will be used. The three categories of operation established in the proposal are:

- Open: operations with limited safety risk, requiring a minimum amount of safety rules and overseen by law enforcement agencies. A key measure of the open category is limitation zones which are geographical areas where UAS use will be limited or not allowed. To prevent UAVs from unintentionally being flown in restricted flight zones, a program which automatically generates geographical limitation, such as geo-fencing, is foreseen.

- Specific and certified: the complex and riskier the operation, the more stringent the requirements. The requirements for certified, for example, are similar to manned aviation requirements.

In 2016 and 2017 new rules will be developed or existing ones will be amended within the framework described in the technical opinion.