March 13, 2015

EASA sets out proposed guidelines for drone regulations

It was back in the first week of December 2014 that an Airbus A320 came within 20ft of colliding with a drone while landing at Heathrow airport. This, together with a number of other high profile incidents, including the flying of substantial drones around the Eiffel tower, US Embassy, the Louvre and Bastille monument all in Paris, has brought matters to a head. Drone activity in France that is cause for concern would seem to be higher than anywhere else, with reports of drones seen over nuclear power plants, military installation and even the presidential palace. Drones are not just these small quadcopters that have become the latest must-have gadget, but are limited to 25kg in Germany, while one over 20kg in the UK is subject to the same regulations as a manned aircraft. A drone is classed as any unmanned aircraft, but also applies to unmanned land and sea vehicles as well.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has now come up with a set of proposals it believes will allow commercial enterprises employing drones to grow, but while still retaining the necessary element of safety to the public. The rules proposed by the EASA creates three categories of drone. The lowest risk category will include low-energy aircraft, including model planes, and would not require any form of license. This type of drone must be flown within line of sight and also well away from sensitive locations, including airports and nature reserves, and would also include the banning of flying drones above any crowds. Where there is likely to be a need to share airspace with other airborne craft, a risk assessment would have to be made before any permission could be obtained.
The highest category of drone would have to be operated under current regulations appropriate for commercial manned aircraft, with multiple certifications necessary EASA made clear. “These rules will ensure a safe and fertile environment for this much promising industry to grow,” Patrick Ky, EASA Executive Director, said in a statement.



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