The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has published a document examining the use and control of drones in the urban environment

The agency aims to have balanced the commercial benefits of drones with the safety and privacy of citizens and the environmental impact on cities.

In addition, if unmanned drone traffic is to increase, it will need to be integrated with other types of air traffic (like commercial aeroplanes and police or ambulance helicopters), in what has been termed the ‘U-space’.

“We are already starting to see an increasing number of complex flights undertaken by drones in various experiments across the globe.

“Also, as everyone is aware, many companies have commercial ambitions to use drones for deliveries or, looking further ahead, to offer services such as air taxis,” said Patrick Ky, Executive Director of EASA.

“This document proposes a regulatory framework that will allow such services to co-exist with all the other activities in our urban environments.

“The aim is to ensure safe operations, while also creating the basis for a competitive U-space services market, and establishing a level of environmental protection, security and privacy that is acceptable to the public.”

Presented to the European Commission as a basis for future legislation, the document also lays down the first building block for the establishment of the U-space in Europe.

The initial scope is low level airspace, densely-populated urban airspace and locations close to an airport, with no attempt made to cover the airspace in other areas. EASA expects to expand the scope as the market develops and experience is gained.

One example of the measures that EASA proposes is a Common Information Service for exchange of essential information.

This would offer U-space service providers, air navigation service providers and other participants in the U-space access to the same traffic data and information regarding airspace restrictions.

This will help drone operators to plan and execute their flights safely, knowing exactly where and when their drone is permitted to fly.

EASA has also published a first set of draft content of acceptable means of compliance (AMC) and guidance material (GM) to support drone operators and EU member states in complying with the new rules.

The final AMC & GM will be published by EASA once the European Commission has adopted the regulation and once the necessary consultation with stakeholders has been completed.

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