The EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) has released its declaration about the Amsterdam meeting aimed at outlining regulations for drone operations for Europe on 28 November 2018.
It was in 2015 that the High Level Drone Conference in Helsinki was held to enable opening the drone services market in line with the Aviation Strategy for Europe. The aim was creation of a new field of competences regarding unmanned aircraft regardless of mass at the European Union level as established by the new Basic Regulation. The effort undertaken by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Commission with extensive support from Member States and stakeholders to translate the new risk-based approach into detailed rules concerning drone operations with the intent to encourage increased engagement of cities and local communities in the Urban Air Mobility Initiative of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-SCC).
The declaration not only appreciated past and ongoing efforts in establishing uniform drone regulations it also outlined a set of goals related to the inclusive participation of relevant agencies in helping shape the drone policies for the future:
1 – Push towards integrated smart mobility and fair access to all dimensions of public space
- The declaration noted the emergence of new technological and business models that impose a rethink of the boundaries and interfaces of urban and public space as they are expanding to the 3rd dimension for example, flying cars or drones flying at very low levels.
- Invited cities and regions, also within the Smart Cities initiative, to co-create with the citizens the public conditions and the infrastructure for integrated air and ground smart mobility solutions to flourish, where new and clean technologies, big data, real-time information and corresponding business models converge towards the enablement and realisation of “mobility as a service”.
2 – Enhancing the drone services market
- Recognized that drone and U-space technologies form an integral part of smart mobility and declared that timely adoption of the implementing rules on drones is an imperative first step towards opening the drone services market.
- Urged for concrete steps towards making autonomous large-scale commercial operations over long distances in Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) feasible and safe.
3 – Timely delivery of the U-space regulatory framework:
- Recognised that safe scaling-up of commercial drone operations relies on the provision of Us-pace services and automation.
- Invited the European Commission and EASA with the support of the SESAR Joint Undertaking and EUROCONTROL along with close cooperation of Member States to develop an institutional, regulatory and architectural framework for a competitive U-space services market.
- Specified that this framework should enable competent authorities to set performance requirements, including environmental objectives, needed to satisfy local airspace considerations and establish an open system that lays the foundation for innovative U-space services.
4 – Focus on local needs and initiatives
Welcoming the first U-space demonstrations under the umbrella of the European U-space Demonstrator Network the declaration stated:
- Knowledge sharing- networking and giving feedback by relevant projects based on practical expertise and demonstrations to help set up a regulatory framework and standards development.
- Emphasised that demonstrators should cover all aspects of drone operations and be developed in close collaboration with local authorities giving utmost importance to public trust and societal expectations.
- Stressed the need for targeted communication strategies to reach out to all drone users and make them aware of the opportunities and limitations of drone operations to respect other people’s safety, security, privacy and environment.
5 – Driving and prioritising R&D drone projects:
- The publication of a roadmap to ensure safe and secure integration of drones in all classes of airspace, as an input to the update of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan and the prioritisation of R&D activities by the SESAR Joint Undertaking was welcomed.
- The launch of a second batch of European wide U-space demonstration projects funded by the SESAR Joint Undertaking was applauded.
- Welcomed the interest for drone demonstration projects within the Urban Air Mobility Initiative (UAM) of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP-SCC), supported by the European Commission.
- Called for the necessary research and innovation activities to be undertaken, supported by appropriate funding, to accelerate drone technology in areas like autonomy and artificial intelligence, also for the full validation of U-space in view of the essential modernisation of Europe’s air traffic management system.
The conference recognised the progress made in establishing a common European drone services market by the European institutions while urging the industry to continue their work.