European Parliament, Council agree EU rules for drone design and safety

The first ever EU-wide rules for the civil use of drones were agreed by the European Parliament and European Council negotiators on Thursday morning, says the European Parliament website (

“Currently, drones lighter than 150kg, which is in fact most of them, fall under the jurisdiction of national authorities and therefore EU manufacturers and operators are subject to different design and safety requirements. According to the informal agreement reached on Thursday morning, the design and manufacture of drones will have to comply with EU basic requirements on safety, security and personal data protection.

“The EU Commission is tasked with defining more specific requirements, for instance on what kind of drones should be equipped with features such as altitude limits, maximum operating distance, collision avoidance, flight stabilisation and automated landing. EU countries will need to ensure that operators of drones that can cause significant harm to people, i.e. by crashing into them, or present risks to privacy, security or the environment, are registered. These drones will also need to be individually marked to be easily identified.”

“The aim is to provide a uniform level of safety across the EU and greater clarity to drone manufacturers and operators to help in boosting the sector. The agreed regulation also updates EU safety legislation for the aviation sector. With air traffic set to double in the next decades, the aim is to create a more flexible, risk-based system at EU and member state levels, which allows potential threats to be identified earlier, while maintaining a high level of safety and ensuring that European industry remains competitive.

“Civil drone technology could account for an estimated 10% of the EU aviation market within the next 10 years.”

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