Europe sees the potential of UAS but also foresees a need for time to develop rules

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The UAS industry poses great opportunity and an unknown risk. Managing the safety element of adding this dynamic, explosive business is the mission of all Civil Aviation Authorities. Here is news of the plan and timetable of EASA, the EC and the EU have defined.

The headline speaks to a plan, but the most telling revelation is the likely timetable enunciated by Matthew Baldwin, director of aviation and international transport affairs with the European Commission (EC):

“We believe that EASA [the European Aviation Safety Agency] is best placed to develop rules, and we envisage an EC proposal early next year to cover safety, liability and insurance, security privacy and so on….Sesar JU [the Single European Sky’s joint undertaking organization] has the experience of how to integrate RPAS [remotely piloted aerial systems] in to the ATM Master Plan…they will develop a working program and work packages to develop and validate new policies.” [emphasis added]

That sounds a lot like the FAA’s schedule. Granted Europe has a far more complicated geography with national lines similar to the US’ state boundaries. But both face the same complexity of issuing and the development of a regulatory concept that can delicately balance critical safety and undefined growth.

Mr. Baldwin also mentioned the need for consistency among the world’s CAA’s and the existence of Joint Authorities on Rulemaking for Unmanned Systems and ICAO which are engaged in efforts to come to common UAS standards. That should be an interesting process to follow.

The history of aviation safety regulations is one of iterations. Lessons learned from operations and dynamic improvement in the power, control and precision have required revisions. Everyone involved in this UAS business MUST include flexibility in their planning. The limits set by the first set of rules may be changed as the technology is enhanced and/or unexpected operational problems. Neither regulated nor the regulator will likely be static in their stances for the near future.

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