An agreement to revise the powers of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) safety was approved by MEPs in Strasbourg today. For the first time in EU law the new rules introduce provisions on the civil use of drones and have been welcomed by ECR Group transport spokesman, Roberts Zile, as a sensible and pragmatic way forward in this rapidly emerging sector.
Given the dramatic increase in recent years of commercially available drones, the legislation has avoided taking a heavy-handed approach to the legislation by giving authorities in Member States the flexibility to adopt a risk-based approach to regulating the use of drones. By ‘future proofing’ the legislation, regulators will be better equipped to deal with the expected continued pace of change in the sector and adjust requirements where appropriate. Provisions controlling the unlawful use of drones in sensitive areas such as around airports and power installations have also been included, as well as airworthiness and privacy rules.
As part of the agreement, environmental standards for aircraft will continue to be set at the global level, via. the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), despite proposals for the Commission to set unilateral EU-only standards. The ECR Group also helped thwart additional calls for the EU’s EASA to be given the power override Member States in terms of setting rules on certification, oversight and enforcement tasks.
Speaking after the vote, Zile said:
“Drones are set to become an important part of everyday life and we must have rules in place to ensure they are being used the right way and in the public interest. Nobody would have thanked us for setting standards that work today but go out of date tomorrow, therefore regulators have been given the flexibility to assess risks on an ongoing basis and adjust where necessary as the development of the drone sector continues apace.
“While the position of national aviation authorities has rightly been reaffirmed, there is clearly an important role for EASA to play and the vote today provides a very timely update of safety rules across Europe.”