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European unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)

The development of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) has opened a promising new chapter in the history of aerospace. However, while military exploitation of UAS has grown exponentially in recent years, this trend has so far not been followed by the civil sector. Unmanned Aircrafts can offer a wide range of possibilities for the benefit of European society, ranging from environmental control, security, as well as a fascinating variety of commercial services. UAS can perform air operations that manned aviation can hardly do, with evident economic savings and environmental benefits while reducing the risk to human life.

However, the absence of a clear EU regulatory framework limits the possibility to fly UAS in non segregated airspace. It is a severe limitation for the development of UAS market which requires careful consideration.

The emergence of this new market needs to be further assessed, and political will power to ensure that appropriate actions are taken on the European level to help development and provide within a reasonable timeframe the necessary framework to ensure federation of efforts and quick benefits for this sector.

8 April 2014: Communication on Civil Drones pdf - 96 KB [96 KB] български (bg)čeština (cs)dansk (da)Deutsch (de)eesti keel (et)ελληνικά (el)español (es)français (fr)hrvatski (hr)italiano (it)latviešu valoda (lv)lietuvių kalba (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.


The European Commission initiatives

1. Hearing conducted on 8 October 2009 on Light UAS:

The first hearing dedicated to unmanned aircraft pdf - 785 KB [785 KB] has been conducted by DG MOVE on Thursday 8 October 2009. It was dedicated to the Light UAS segment composed of unmanned aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of less that 150 kilograms. The main objectives of this event were to understand the current European Light UAS industrial base and the current Light UAS applications in Europe, to identify potential obstacles, enablers and best practices in Europe, to exchange directly with the European Light UAS community views and to assess the future potential role of the European Commission for the insertion of Light UAS.

2. The High Level Conference:

On 1st July 2010, the European Commission and the European Defence Agency joitnly organized a High Level Conference on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). About 450 participants from all over the world discussed issues such as how UAS can support European policies, the different uses of UAS, and institutional and infrastructure measures to allow UAS to fly in non-segregated airspace.

The conclusions pdf - 17 KB [17 KB] of that important event clearly indicated the need for an EU lead initiatives aimed at supporting the industrial and customer aspirations to develop a robust European UAS market.

3. The "UAS Panel" initiative:

After these two successful events, the European Commission felt the need to take stock of all the elements collected, while looking ahead with a pragmatic approach to understand whether an overarching intiative, lead by the European Commission, was effectively required. It was immediately clear that the many initiatives undertaken in the UAS sector were fragmented, and that there was no coherent approach toward a common EU objective. Moreover, the need to clearly identify which obstacles are hampering a full exploitation of civil UAS, and how to remove them , was considered as an important prerequisite for any further actions.

To this end, on 23 June 2011, at the Paris International Air Show, the European Commission launched a new initiative aimed at providing the Commission with the necessary background information to prepare a strategy paper for the future of UAS in the European Union. More information on this initiative can be found on DG ENTR website .

 The UAS Panel is expected to deliver its conclusions in the first quart of 2012.