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 Full text 
Procedure : 2014/2243(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0261/2015

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 29/10/2015 - 4
CRE 29/10/2015 - 4

Votes :

PV 29/10/2015 - 10.6

Texts adopted :


Thursday, 29 October 2015 - Strasbourg Revised edition

4. Safe use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the field of civil aviation (debate)
Video of the speeches

  Jacqueline Foster, rapporteur . Madam President, small radio-controlled model aircraft have been flown by enthusiasts for many decades. The first recorded use of them in the UK was in 1935 when the British Royal Navy used the DH82 Queen Bee for target practice. During the past 15 years we have seen rapid growth in the use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), more commonly known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Technology developed primarily for military purposes is now being applied for commercial use, pushing technological and legislative boundaries.

In recognition of the rapid development of this market, RPAS are rightly being incorporated into existing aviation programmes such as Sesar and Horizon 2020. In addition, the potential for growth in this industry, from the manufacturer to the end user, is immense for large and small businesses alike. Therefore, it is imperative that we maintain world-class standards for manufacturing. Europe leads the world in drone development, with two and a half thousand drone operators. In the UK alone we have more than 600 RPAS operations providing services from photography to land surveillance.

RPASs have become an increasingly popular alternative to manned aircraft for aerial surveillance activities, among other things. They are used to monitor railway lines, power plants and farmers’ crops, as well as at rock concerts and in football stadiums. They are being used increasingly in humanitarian circumstances, in dealing with forest fires and earthquakes, for example, and in search and rescue operations. At the same time, ‘baby drones’ designed for leisure and hobby use have become increasingly popular.

All the stakeholders have recognised the potential of this market and we are all keen to stress that any policy framework must enable growth in it in order to compete globally. My role as rapporteur has been to find the right direction and framework to take this industry to the next stage, and I believe that this report, as it now stands, has answered the key questions.

Earlier this year I brought together representatives from industry, Member States, civil aviation authorities, air traffic services, the European Safety Agency and the Commission. It was widely recognised by participants that any framework must be proportionate and risk-based to enable the sector to grow while, at the same time, avoiding any unnecessary burdens. In addition, any legislation must reflect global cooperation in order to stimulate R&D.

I also had constructive meetings in Washington in March with representatives from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the US Transport Department. This all culminated in a high-level meeting under the Latvian Presidency in Riga, which produced the Riga Declaration.

That key message stated that the European aviation community would commit itself to allowing businesses to provide RPAS services everywhere in Europe from 2016. To do this, I believe that we need to establish European and global rules which will address the following areas: air worthiness, certification, commercial and recreational use, drone identity, appropriate pilot training, liability and insurance, operations, protection and privacy, geo-fencing and no-fly zones.

The Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JARUS) is a committee comprising non-EU and EU Member States and national aviation authorities. It sits under the umbrella of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Its purpose is to develop technical safety and operational requirements for the certification and safe integration of large and small RPAS into airspace and at aerodromes. The Chair of JARUS is a representative from European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In my view, JARUS is ideally placed to draft global safety regulations for the use of these systems quickly and effectively.

We need to ensure that any future EU rules will be compatible with international arrangements through a process of mutual recognition.

To conclude, I would like to thank the shadow rapporteurs on the Committee on Transport and Tourism for their very constructive input and cooperation, as well as our colleagues on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and in particular Patrick Cassidy from the ECR Group, who has been an invaluable help to me. I believe that we have acknowledged the opportunities that this nascent market can create for both investment and job creation, whilst at the same time safeguarding public interest. I would therefore ask Parliament for its support in order to send a strong political message that we are ready for this new exciting step forward for the aviation sector.


Last updated: 28 January 2016Legal notice