The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said today that it has published the first rules for safe drone operations in European cities.
The rules balance “the desire to maximise the commercial and convenience benefits of drones against the need to ensure the safety and privacy of citizens and the potential environmental impact on our cities,” EASA said.
The agency added that finding ways to safely integrate drones into city airspace is challenging because that space already is heavily used by other air traffic and because city residents typically are concerned about noise, privacy and the possibility that low-level drone flights could cause accidents and injuries.
“We are already starting to see an increasing number of complex flights undertaken by drones in various experiment across the globe,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said. “Also, as everyone is aware, many companies have commercial ambitions to use drones for deliveries or, looking further ahead, to offer services such as air taxis.”
Ky said that EASA is proposing a regulatory framework to allow drone operations to coexist safely with “all the other activities in our urban environments.” The goal, he said, “is to ensure safe operations while also creating the basis for a competitive U-space market and establishing a level of environmental protection, security and privacy that is acceptable to the public.”
U-space refers to the management of drone traffic to ensure that it safely interacts with other aircraft in the same area.
EASA’s opinion has been sent to the European Commission to serve as a basis for future legislation. EASA also published a draft of acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to aid drone operators and European Union member states in complying with the rules. EASA will publish final drafts after the commission adopts the regulation.