Lords welcome 'exciting' drone technology but call for more regulation

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
12 March 2015

A committee of peers have called for greater regulation of the use of drones across the European Union.

In a report the EU Select Committee of the House of Lords recommended commercial drone pilots be assessed on their competence and said standards should be set for the airworthiness of “remotely piloted aircraft systems” (RPAS).

The committee said “greater attention must be given to the technological needs of small RPAS”, including the ability to detect and avoid obstacles on the ground and in the air.

The report said there were now more than 600 permissions for commercial drone operations in the UK, for services such as photography and surveying, but “in future they could be used to carry out many more tasks, such as search and rescue, deliveries and construction repair work”.

The Lords said the European Commission (EC), the UK government and industry should work together to create an online database “through which commercial small RPAS pilots can provide details of their flights (below 500ft) to inform other airspace users”. In the long term the committee said a system was required that could track and trace all drones.

The report also said insurance requirements around the use of drones needed to be clarified and the minimum amount of public liability cover for commercial operators, currently €660,000, should be increased.

The committee welcomed EC aims to encourage the RPAS industry in the EU and said that to avoid stifling development “safety rules be developed and applied in proportion to the risk that RPAS flights present”.

“RPAS will revolutionise what the aviation industry can achieve and how it is regulated. Europe must act now in order to reap the future benefits of this exciting new technology,” said the report.

“Member states must retain a degree of flexibility in regulating small RPAS to respond to local markets and support growth in the industry.”

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