This article was published in the Innovations magazine #6.
In the space of 15 years, the humble drone has gone from hastily improvised weapon of war to a cornerstone of navigation, meteorology and civil surveillance. However, that speed has left some authorities running to catch up when it comes to devising and implementing the necessary laws and guidelines surrounding the wider civilian use of drones.
Despite concerted efforts to adopt generally accepted guidelines, confusion still reigns. Take Europe: a fully pan-European set of UAV laws has yet to emerge, and local laws stymie attempts to decide a set of EU laws. When that is achieved, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is likely to define drones by usage rather than weight, an approach which is at odds with the rest of the world.
However, progress is being made, albeit slowly. Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) which is currently chaired by EASA, has issued a guidance document on recommendations for a single set of technical, safety and operational requirements on drones which will look at issues from pilots’ licences to inspections of airworthiness. Watch this space.