EU Releases Its Regulatory Approach For Drones; US Puts Out 'Request For Comments' On Commercial And Private Use

from the don't-get-left-behind dept

As Techdirt has reported, the FAA is being strangely unhelpful when it comes to authorizing commercial drone use. In that article, Mike warned that this might lead to other countries moving ahead in this fast-developing area, and he was right: the EU body for air safety, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), has now presented its regulatory approach for drones. It is based on three categories of operations and their associated regulatory regime: open, specific and certified (pdf):

The Open operation category of drones, should not require an authorisation by an Aviation Authority for the flight but stay within defined boundaries for the operation (e.g. distance from aerodromes, from people, etc). The “specific” operation category will require a risk assessment that will lead to an Operations Authorisation with specific limitations adapted to the operation. The “certified” operations will be required for operations with a higher associated risk or might be requested on a voluntary basis by organisations providing services such as remote piloting or equipment such as “detect and avoid”.

As the EASA paper quoted above points out, in addition to safety, privacy and data protection are other important areas that need to be addressed. The new EU framework envisages this being dealt with by legislation at a national, rather than European, level. The paper has some suggestions for how this might be done:

The risk regarding privacy (data protection) could be mitigated through the operators self-registration in a web based application maintained by the local authorities. Another solution would be to install chips/Sim cards in drones. Such a web based application or chip/Sim cards could also contribute mitigating the security risk.

The paper also has some interesting thoughts on imminent challenges:

While today flying a single drone in non-segregated airspace with cooperative aircraft can be done with appropriate coordination and special procedures, operation of several of them possibly with non-cooperative aircraft will be much more complicated and will require additional measures. The concept of operations will need to be further developed to address the issues related to operations of fleet of drones in the non-segregated airspace. These operations of fleet of drones will pose new challenges not yet explored with manned aircraft operations.

Meanwhile, in the US, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has put out a “Request for Comments on Privacy, Transparency, and Accountability Regarding Commercial and Private Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems,” with a closing date of April 20, 2015. Let’s hope it doesn’t take too long to move from words to action.

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Comments on “EU Releases Its Regulatory Approach For Drones; US Puts Out 'Request For Comments' On Commercial And Private Use”

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Richard (profile) says:

Re: Translation, please

Generally speaking aviation authorities do not distinguish at the top level. Everything that flies is an aircraft. None of them are toys.

IF you drill down into the regulations that already exist at national level you will find that there are two key points. One is the weight, the other is whether the aircraft is always operated within direct line of sight of a pilot. For example in the UK regulation is very light touch for aircraft below 20kg operated in direct view. From 20kg-150kg regulation is done via approved hobbyist organisations to ensure that the airframe is sound.

The top end of this scale is represented bythis model. Still perfectly safe when operated as you see in the video, away from buildings, (uninvolved) people and man carrying aviation. (Bear in mind that there are man carrying aircraft that are smaller!).

Once you break the visual link between the aircraft and the operator, or operate over crowds etc then you are in a different category and new regulations are needed.

Even a “toy” quadcopter will hurt if it falls on your head from 200ft.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Military-grade attack hardware

Once they setup rules for the plebs then we might notice those how arn’t following the rules. No rules, no domestic oversight!

Military drones of the kind that carry weapons are operated under the same rule set as other military aircraft or guided missiles. You may or may not regard the level of oversight as adequate – but it is far from “no rules” and it is not new.

The military have operated drones since the 1950s at least.

Christopher Best (profile) says:

Re: Re: Military-grade attack hardware

Military drones of the kind that carry weapons are operated under the same rule set as other military aircraft or guided missiles.

No they don’t. If they did, there might be less of a problem getting rules adopted. The DoD expressly doesn’t want them treated like manned aircraft. In particular, they don’t want their “operators” to be required to meet the instrument rating qualifications everyone else has to for flying in controlled airspace. They don’t want their guys considered pilots (probably because they’d have to pay them way more).

Having spent several years in labs working on this problem, in my experience the DoD angle is the big reason the FAA is dragging its feet on this. They are really chomping at the bit to fill the sky with military UASes, and there’s just honestly no safe way to do it.

Anonymous Coward says:


If I remember correctly, federal courts have put the matter of privacy from drones to rest in the US by ruling that there is no need for search warrants for areas that can be seen from the air because there is no expectation of privacy in such areas.

If there is no expectation of privacy in such areas, then there is no privacy to be protected.

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