With recent incidents of passenger aircraft experiencing close calls with rogue drones, the safety of public air transport is increasingly at risk due to irresponsible UAV operators.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has indicated their support of a new project that would see the UN lead development of a global drone registry.
The world’s air carrier association estimates that an international approach to data security and commercial UAV management would safely accommodate 3.8 billion new travelers by 2036.
“What worries our airlines – and we work a lot on it – is that in terms of protection of personal information and computer data, the rules differ around the world”, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Alexandre de Juniac, told MSN France on Tuesday .
According to de Juniac, the current system – where the same airline relies on different systems of data protection in reservation systems from country to country – is a nightmare.
If the UN-run International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) were to develop such a registry with backing from IATA, the number of incidents involving drones and jets could be tracked, said Rob Eagles, IATA’s director of air traffic management infrastructure.
Mr. de Juniac explained that IATA will first try to harmonize the different approaches in large regions of the world, before mobilizing the international community for the establishment of global standards. But things are changing so fast in this sector that it will be difficult to quickly achieve significant results, he admits.
IATA also wants to collaborate in a collective effort to regulate commercial flights of drones, with the aim of preventing collisions with aircraft. The association supports the idea of creating an international drone registry, which is already discussed within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN agency. An IATA spokesperson said the association would accept any invitation from ICAO to collaborate on this issue.
“One of the important things we would like to see on a registry as well is the compilation of data which would include incident and accident reporting.” - Rob Eagles Click To Tweet
Such an international registry would replace a whole series of databases scattered here and there, and would allow the judicial authorities to identify the users of these unmanned vehicles.
For example, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has never been able to determine who owned the drone colliding with an aircraft at the Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City last October 12. It was the first collision in Canada between a drone and an airplane.
The authorities generally prohibit the use of drones around airports, but air carriers would still like to rely on an international register, argued Mr. de Juniac – especially since the use of such devices is growing. This register would allow the authorities to know exactly how many drones are in the airspace, and would force the users of these machines to be accountable.
Drone air traffic had already been discussed in September at an international symposium organized by ICAO, and another event is planned for next autumn in China.
Vice President Lopez-Meyer believes that such an international registry is needed as new players, such as Amazon and Google, rely heavily on the use of these drones.
Aviation authorities and association around the world have been calling for tighter regulations and registration of drones such as in New Zealand after a plane returning from Japan nearly hit a drone that was in managed airspace. There, Air New Zealand Chief Operations and Integrity Standards Officer Captain David Morgan made it clear that he believes the responsibility lies with policy makers to protect the travellers through strategies such as better education, tighter regulations and stronger penalties.