The first ever EU rules on drones will help to better safeguard people's privacy and personal data as well as protect the environment.
On 12 June MEPs adopted new aviation safety rules to provide clear and consistent laws for the use of drones in European airspace.
Why EU-wide laws are needed
Research suggests 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, the current system of regulation complicates cross-border trade in this growing sector. While heavy drones fall under general EU aviation rules, unmanned aircraft weighing less than 150kg are regulated at the national level, which has led to inconsistent standards across different countries.
Drones also pose a number of safety risks. Even drones below 150kg can damage aircraft, cause injuries and contribute to air and sound pollution. Drones fitted with cameras can also threaten privacy and register people’s personal data without their consent.
- Drones are unmanned aircraft, originally developed for military use. They are now used for a range of activities from photography and filming to rescue operations, pipeline inspections and crop spraying.
What the new rules will change
The new rules will apply to all drone parts, including engines and remote controls, to ensure that operators and manufacturers respect safety, privacy, personal data and the environment.
A maximum height rule will be introduced to prevent drone operators endangering people on the ground and to protect other people using the airspace for activities such as air sports.
Access to areas such as airports, embassies, prisons and nuclear plants will be restricted or banned for safety reasons.
People hit by drones can get injured. This is why drones more likely to cause damage on impact should be registered and clearly marked for easy identification.
In addition new drones should be designed in order to minimise noise and air pollution.
Once the new legislation enters into force, the European Commission will then work on more detailed rules. This will include an implementing act to apply the law across the EU, in consultation with a committee featuring representatives from all EU countries.