European airports call for drone safety rulebook

European airport trade body ACI EUROPE has today issued a policy paper on integrating drones within airports.  It has made four major recommendations in the areas of producing a European safety rulebook, introducing airport protection measures, developing airport traffic management procedures and readying the industry for future opportunities.

  • “As a matter of urgency, a European safety rulebook on drones should be finalised to ensure a common approach and to avoid that each Member States sets up separate rules…This rulebook should include a consistent approach to protected zones around airports, requirements for pilots, and be presented in a clear manner enabling ordinary users to understand what they can and cannot do with their buy-to-fly aircraft.”
  • “Guidelines and benchmarking are needed on the measures necessary to protect airports from drones, including on roles and responsibilities of different actors. ACI EUROPE will focus safety and security work in this area and engage local and European authorities to come up with effective answers to challenges…”
  • “For aviation to reap benefits from drones, authorities, ATC and operators must work out how drones can operate at busy airports. So far, technical and policy-making advances have been made on setting up a general framework for Unmanned Traffic Management, or U-Space, which ACI EUROPE strongly supports. The operational issues with drone flights at airports carry their own complexities, involving safety cases, ATC procedures, authority approvals, technology adoption, all of which are currently at an early stage. ACI EUROPE will continue with further technical work under the auspices of its Technical and Operational Safety Committee (TOSC) assisted by the Aviation Security Committee (AVSEC) meanwhile inviting aviation authorities to collaborate towards an ambitious integration of drones into airport environments.”
  • “The foray of drone technology into aviation has the potential to reshape the industry in the long-run. As the arrival of aircraft like the Boeing 787 gave a new advantage to the possibility of point-to-point services, so in the future the development of pilotless aircraft with new configurations is likely to have consequences on the nature of demand for airport infrastructure. The 15-20 year horizon is difficult to forecast as changes to technology (aircraft, air traffic management) may be coupled by parallel changes in business models (e.g. in freight) and setting the right strategic direction for the aviation industry is very important.”

According to Olivier Jankovec, Director General ACI EUROPE: “The airport industry is embracing innovation and we are excited about the potential opportunities that drone technology presents, in particular in relation to infrastructure maintenance and operational efficiency, passenger facilitation and more. That said, the safety issues concerning the use of drones in and around airports are increasingly well-documented – underlining the urgent need for an effective regulatory framework on this.”

The full policy paper can be viewed here:


(Picture: Olvier Jankovec, ACI Europe)

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