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Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)

European Commission Communication

The European Commission adopted on 8 April 2014 the Communication "A new era for aviation – Opening the aviation market to the civil use of RPAS in a safe and sustainable manner български (bg) czech (cs) dansk (da) Deutsch (de) eesti (et) ελληνικά (el) español (es) Français (fr) Gaeilge (ga) hrvatski (hr) italiano (it) latviešu (lv) lietuvių (lt) magyar (hu) Malti (mt) Nederlands (nl) polski (pl) português (pt) română (ro) slovenčina (sk) slovenščina (sl) suomi (fi) svenska (sv) "

This Communication sets out the Commission's views on how to address civil drones, or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), operations in a European level policy framework which will enable the progressive development of the commercial drones market while safeguarding the public interest. Understanding the direction for future regulatory developments is important for the European industry when it comes to making decisions on further investments.

Press memo

European RPAS Roadmap

The Roadmap, handed over by RPAS stakeholders to the European Commission on 20 June 2013, paves the way for the safe integration of RPAS into the European airspace starting in 2016.

 

The development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) has opened a promising new chapter in the history of aerospace. Military exploitation of UAS has grown significantly in the recent years. However this trend has so far not been followed by the civil sector.

RPAS can offer a wide range of civil applications for the benefit of European citizens and businesses. Being remotely piloted, RPA can perform tasks that manned systems cannot perform, either for safety or for economic reasons.

RPAS are well suited for long duration monitoring tasks or risky flights into ash clouds. They can efficiently complement existing manned aircraft or satellites infrastructure used by governments in crisis management, border control or fire fighting. RPAS can also deliver profitable commercial aerial services in various areas, such as in precision agriculture and fisheries, power or gas line monitoring, infrastructure inspection, communications and broadcast services, wireless communication relay and satellite augmentation systems, natural resources monitoring, media and entertainment, digital mapping, land and wildlife management, air quality control and management.

A broad consultation on the future of civil RPAS applications in Europe

In order to examine the economic impact of this emerging technology and identify the obstacles to the development of civil RPAS applications, the European Commission conducted a broad stakeholders' consultation. Between 2009 and 2012, three major initiatives have been launched, allowing an extensive exchange of views with the RPAS Community.

In 2009, DG Mobility and Transport conducted a Hearing on Light Unmanned Aircrafts, while in 2010 it organized together with the European Defense Agency a High-Level conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems . The hearing report pdf - 785 KB [785 KB] and the conclusions of the High Level conference pdf - 17 KB [17 KB] confirmed the enormous potential of RPAS technology and the necessity for action in EU level.

Taking action in defining the way forward, DG Enterprise and DG Mobility and Transport conducted, from June 2011 to February 2012, an extensive consultation on the future of RPAS through 5 workshops, titled the UAS Panel Process (see all presentations and written contributions).

The Staff Working Document "Towards a European strategy for the development of civil applications of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) " (SWD(2012)259) published in September 2012, reports the outcomes of this consultation. Main conclusions were:

  • RPAS present an important potential for the development of innovative civil applications (commercial, corporate and governmental) in a wide variety of sectors to the benefit of European society by creating jobs and achieving useful tasks.
  • To unleash this potential the first priority is to achieve a safe integration of RPAS into the European air system as soon as possible.
  • This requires the development of appropriate technologies and the implementation of the necessary aviation regulation at EU and national levels. Issues like privacy and data protection or insurance must also be addressed.
  • It also requires an increased coordination between all relevant actors (EASA, national Civil Aviation Authorities, EURCAE, Eurocontrol, JARUS, industry etc.) and between regulatory and technological developments.

Given the urgency to achieve RPAS safe integration into the civil airspace in view of the potential economic and social benefits of such applications, the UAS Panel called upon the European Commission to take the lead in the development of a Roadmap for safe RPAS integration into European Air System (RPAS Roadmap).

A Roadmap for the safe integration of RPAS into civil airspace

Following this call, DG Enterprise and DG Mobility and Transport mandated to a group of key European stakeholders the elaboration of a roadmap for the safe integration of civil RPAS into the European aviation system starting in 2016.

Remotely Piloted Aircraft System flying over a fieldThe RPAS Roadmap proposes a series of actions to be taken for achieving RPAS integration into the European air system from 2016. On 20 June 2013 at the Paris Air Show, the Roadmap was handed over to the European Commission, who will play a crucial role in its implementation, developing the necessary regulation, supporting the development of enabling technologies and addressing privacy and other societal concerns.

Roadmap for the integration of civil RPAS into the European Aviation System pdf - 2 MB [2 MB]

Annexes:

  1. Regulatory Approach pdf - 3 MB [3 MB]
  2. Strategic Research Plan pdf - 4 MB [4 MB]
  3. Study on the Societal Impact pdf - 3 MB [3 MB]

On the basis of the Roadmap, the Commission will reflect on how best it can help to bring about new opportunities related to RPAS and address the challenges. The right balance will need to be struck between enabling a sector to prosper and grow in a safe and sustainable way, while not suppress new developments. All of this will necessitate a lot of cooperation with many partners, including the EU Member States and European industry.

UAS Database

In order to facilitate the gathering and the consolidation of existing information and increase the transparency of on-going activities, DG Enterprise and Industry has set-up a public database on UAS accessible through the CIRCABC interest group on UAS (To access the documents uploaded to this group, please click on "Library" on the left-hand menu. No login or registration is required). Stakeholders are invited to contribute building-up the database. Any relevant public information can be sent to entr-uas@ec.europa.eu.

For further questions, please contact: entr-uas@ec.europa.eu.

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