The Commission adopts new rules on technical requirements for drones

In accordance with the new aviation safety Basic Regulation, setting rules for unmanned aircraft, irrespective of their weight, is a Commission competence, as well as adopting delegated acts laying down detailed rules with regard to their necessary features. Therefore, on 12 March 2019 the Commission adopted common EU-wide rules setting technical requirements for drones. 

The new rules aim at providing a harmonized framework across the European Union establishing, on the one hand, the features and capabilities that drones must have in order to be flown safely, and fostering, on the other one, investment and innovation in this sector.

As stated by the Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc, this initiative represents “…a first building block for a comprehensive set of rules, which will ensure safe, secure and green drone operations throughout the European Union…”. In addition to the adopted technical requirements for drones, the Commission intends to adopt provisions covering the operation of drones to be applied to each operation type and to replace any national rules that may currently exist in the different Member States. 

The approach taken by the Commission, with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, is to apply the highest safety standards achieved in manned aviation to drones as well. In particular, the rules are based on an assessment of the risk of operation, and strike a balance between the obligations of drone manufacturers and operators in terms of safety, security, privacy, environment protection and protection against noise. 

The adoption of the new rules constitute a major deliverable under the Commission’s Aviation Strategy for Europe, whose core objective is to support the competitiveness of the EU’s Aviation Industry and reinforce its global leadership, and will help ensuring that drone operators – whether recreational or professional – have a clear understanding of what is allowed.

Sara Capruzzi