EASA Seeks Comments on European Drone Regulations

The EU agency is trying to find a method for controlling drones' risk to commercial aviation, privacy rights, and even general aviation.

Sept. 25, 2015, is the deadline for comments about regulations that the European Aviation Safety Agency will write to govern drone operations. Saying the drone industry is "diverse, innovative and international," with "enormous potential for growth with the associated possibility to create jobs," the EU agency is trying, like the FAA, to find a method for controlling drones' risk to commercial aviation, privacy rights, and even general aviation.

Citizens' privacy concerns and safety are included in EASA's consultation document, along with a chapter containing background information. When the comment period ends, the agency will submit a technical opinion to the European Commission by the end of 2015.

The document introduces three categories of operations, as already proposed in the published EASA Concept of Operations for Drones:

  • Open category (low risk): Safety is ensured through operational limitations, compliance with industry standards, requirements on certain functionalities, and a minimum set of operational rules. Enforcement ensured by the police.
  • Specific operation category (medium risk): Authorization by National Aviation Authorities, possibly assisted by a Qualified Entity following a risk assessment performed by the operator. A manual of operations shall list the risk mitigation measures.
  • Certified category (higher risk): Requirements comparable to manned aviation requirements. Oversight by NAAs (issue of licences and approval of maintenance, operations, training, Air Traffic Management/Air Navigation Services and aerodrome organizations) and by EASA (design and approval of foreign organizations).

The framework will address European rules for all drones in all weight classes.

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