Civilian drones regulated for a safer EU

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The European Parliament approves today the first EU regulatory framework on unmanned aircraft (also known as drones ) in order to integrate this fast technology into European airspace under clear, enforceable and harmonised rules. The purpose is to increase safety, security, protect privacy and the environment as drones can be used for different activities.

Drones are generally used for surveillance, inspection and photography. Many EU authorities use them also to inspect pipelines and power cables, to spray crops, for search and rescue, border control and forest fire monitoring. The proposals include a maximum height rule for drones, new registrations and restricting flights near the likes of embassies and nuclear sites. There’s also a push to cut noise pollution.

According to the European Parliamentary Research Service, the rapidly-developing drone sector will create more than 150,000 new jobs by 2050 and that in 10 years the industry could account for 10% of the EU’s aviation market (about €15 billion a year). However drones also pose a number of safety and security risks, e.g even very light drones can damage other aircraft, cause injuries or contribute to air and sound pollution. Drones fitted with cameras can also threaten privacy and register people’s personal data without their consent.

Matthijs van Miltenburg, D66/ALDE member of the Transport Committee, said:

“ I welcome the new regulatory framework on the civil use of drones, which is a real milestone. It is of great importance that European rules are both flexible and future proof so not to hamper technological developments in our innovative European drones sector.”

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