European nations’ adoption of U-Space, or UAS traffic management (UTM), services is happening spasmodically, with different operating limits, according to a paper presented by Cristina Barrado of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Barcelona (UPC) at the recent U-Space Conops research and dissemination conference in Brussels. (https://www.unmannedairspace.info/uas-traffic-management-tenders/sesar-publishes-enhanced-overview-of-u-space-concept-of-operations/.
In her paper “Legal aspects & Social Impact” Dr Cristina Barrado outlined the state-of-play of U-Space services adoption across Europe, dividing the services into four areas: administration (drone registration for example), additional requirements (such as insurance); operational requirements (height restrictions and distances from airport) and airworthiness requirements (mandated equipage).
According to the paper only four out of 28 European countries surveyed have registration systems in place for professional drone operators (Czech Republic, Lithuania, Spain and Slovakia), eight countries have mandated on-board equipment but almost all require insurance cover for professional pilots – the exceptions are Germany, Malta, the UK and Greece.
Maximum height levels which professional drone pilots are permitted to fly are set at different levels – though there is confusion here because different countries use different metrics for measuring height above ground level. Most countries have imposed a 5km no-fly zone around airports (6km in Poland and 5.5km in the Czech Republic). From these figures, Poland appears to have the most liberal set of drone rules, allowing recreational drone users, for example, to fly drone up to 150kg at virtually no ceiling.
One clear conclusion from the survey is the considerable work that needs to be done by European air navigation service providers to implement foundation services U-Space services.
According to the current regulatory timetable from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the European Union this month should see the publication of Guidance Material (GM) and Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) along with Pre-defined Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) and standard scenarios for urban visual line of sight (VLOS) and rural beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) while December 2019 will see the publication of EASA’s U-space Opinion.
Which all suggests that at some future stage there will be an alignment of national regulatory approaches to a more common, European approach.
According to Dr. Barrado: “The work we have done in CORUS highlights the importance of streamlining the adoption of a singular European approach to drones across country borders. Although the current legal situation in Europe in not uniform and some legal data is difficult to find translated to English, the good news is that most countries have addressed the problem and most decisions are in agreement with the EASA/EU regulation. We hope that the ConOps developed in CORUS will be useful to drone operators that want to expand their business across national borders.”
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