Question asked by Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE)
Subject: Regulations on the use of civilian drones
Drones are usually used for the purposes of military operations or for aid and reconnaissance missions in the event of natural disasters or those caused by human factors, but it has recently been highlighted by the trade association that unites the manufacturers and operators of these remotely operated aircraft that the use of these vehicles does in fact go beyond these two areas. Nowadays, there are around four hundred drones flying in the Italian skies each day. These are used for a wide range of tasks, which range from aerial films and photographs to monitoring agricultural land, installations such as dykes, electricity networks and so on. A well-known American electronics company has come up with the idea of using drones to deliver parcels. In this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, drones were used to provide films from multiple angles, and there are plans to equip hospitals with drones that are capable of making urgent journeys to transport bags of blood or other material.
The task of regulating drones in Italy has been entrusted to the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (Enac), which recently announced the definitive text for the regulations on flying drones weighing 150 kilograms or less, which are set to enter into force on 30 April. Under these regulations, only persons over the age of 18 who have theoretical and practical knowledge of the rules of the air and of the use of the drone itself are permitted to pilot a drone. Despite no mention being made of a proper licence, Enac anticipates that specific training programmes will be organised. Different regulations will apply if people wish to operate in cities, in which case Enac will carry out more detailed assessments. A final benchmark is the altitude: the regulations are less stringent for flights up to a height of 70 metres, while specific authorisations apply for flights between 70 and 150 metres.
This sector is growing rapidly: in Italy alone there are more than 300 companies operating in this sector and forecasts predict that global turnover will reach USD 130 billion by 2021, compared with USD 7 billion in 2012.
In the light of the above, is the Commission aware of other Member States or non-European countries that have implemented, or are in the process of implementing, regulations governing the use of drones? Does it intend to propose legislation or reference guidelines at a European level?
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