September 11 brings the new European Union basic EASA regulation including drones

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On 11 September 2018 the New EASA Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018,–  that include the first EU-wide rules for civil drones of all sizes, has entered into force.

GeoNumerics is happy to learn and further disseminate that, as of yesterday, drone operations start to be regulated in a uniform way across the European Union (EU). The New Basic Regulation (NBR), as part of updated aviation safety rules and a revised mandate for the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), was approved by the EU Parliament on 12 June and by the European Council on 26 June, then published on the EU Official Journal on 22 August and, finally, it came into force yesterday. By the end of 2018, the EU Commission and the EASA, shall complement the NBR with and implementing regulation on operations of small drones and with a delegated act for marketing drones in the EU.

Originally developed for military applications, drone technology has rapidly evolved into a wide-spectrum  technology used for recreational and commercial activities. Drones and their payloads range from toys to professional complex/expensive systems for film production or accurate mapping, among many other applications. In its celebrated report, the SESAR Joint Undertaking, the joint EU-Eurocontrol agency for the modernisation of Air Traffic Management predicts that, in 2025, the number of commercial drones in the EU will be about 200 000. The report states “By 2035, in nominal figures, a drone marketplace exceeding € 10 billion annually is expected with growth to over € 15 billion by 2050 creating over 100 000 new jobs.” Already some years ago, it became clear to the EU authorities that without an EU-wide, appropriate drone regulation, those and similar forecasts were at stake. Accordingly, the EU Commission proposed, in 2015, a revision of the EU legislative framework, to leverage drone technology and secure value for the EU in the marketplace, essentially giving EASA competence to regulate drones of any mass and not only those above 150 kg. The outcome of the 2015 Commission initiative is the NBR that covers drones of all sizes for civil applications; i.e. with the exception of those used in military and other State flights.

According to EASA, “The so-called new Basic Regulation formalises EASA’s role in the domain of drones and urban air mobility, enabling the Agency to prepare rules for all sizes of civil drones and harmonize standards for the commercial market across Europe. The regulation enlarges the Agency’s role in areas such as in environmental protection, research and development, or international cooperation. The new mandate also gives EASA a coordinating role in cybersecurity in aviation.”

Filippo Tomasello, senior partner of EuroUSC, professor at the Università degli Studi Giustino Fortunato, and a renowned expert on aviation safety said that “Extending the competence of EASA is not good for that Agency; it is good for the EU Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which now could propose their services all over the continent based on common rules.” Further to this, Prof. Tomasello also said that “EASA is totally conscious that a child’s kite cannot be regulated like a drone of 20 tons. I am sure that the new common rules will be risk-based, proportionate and bearable by SMEs.”

Ismael Colomina, Chief Executive and Chief Scientist of GeoNumerics, highlighted that the new regulation “seeks the balance between privacy, safety and security on the one hand and business friendliness on the other hand” and its “risk-based and proportionate approach.” Dr. Colomina also said that “the words GNSS, EGNOS and Galileo are just used three times, twice and once respectively in the new regulation” and that “the potential of EGNOS and Galileo should be taken into account in the more detailed regulations that the EU Commission and EASA will produce.”

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), established in 2002, is a European Union agency, responsible for civil aviation safety. Its tasks include certification, regulation and standardisation. EASA cooperates with the EU national aviation authorities but, in recent times, has taken over many of their rulemaking functions in the interest of aviation standardisation.

SESAR stands for Single European Sky ATM Research. The SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) is a public-private partnership between the EU and Eurocontrol whose mission is to modernise European Air Traffic Management (ATM) by defining, developing and delivering new or improved technologies and procedures.

GeoNumerics is a research and development (R&D) intensive SME specialised in geomatics and accurate navigation.

EuroUSC Italia is an independent qualified entity, specialised in rulemaking, verification of regulatory compliance and safety assessment of drone operations.