The proliferation of civil drones poses a new challenge for the regulation of aviation. The 7th Florence Air Forum will discuss this challenge by bringing together relevant stakeholders from the aviation and ATM industry, manufacturers, regulators, international institutions as well as operators and users of drones from different sectors.
Drones offer new services and are developing into a new field of aviation that bears prospects for growth both in manufacturing and service provision. There are, however, a number of risks that regulation needs to address. At the European level it has to be assured that regulation on drones is integrated into the existing system of aviation safety regulation and air traffic management in a way that is proportionate to the risk entailed by the different ways in which drones are operated. There is indeed an extremely varied use of drones: they are used for private as well as commercial purposes ranging from sport events to infrastructure inspection in the energy sector and possibly for the delivery of small cargo in the future. Apart from the immediate safety risk (mid-air collision with aircrafts, harm to people and damage to property and critical infrastructure), there are other public interests concerned such as privacy and security of citizens.
European regulators have started to address the issue, as drones have entered the European Commission’s agenda. Also, EASA proposed to define three categories of operations in order to strike a balance between safety and proportionality. This is an important first step, but regulation on drones needs to be developed further and this process needs to keep pace with the rapid development of the industry.
In particular regulation needs to define the rules for navigation of the different types of drones, depending on the altitudes.
The right approach to regulating drones needs to be defined: a heavy handed approach would maximize safety. Inversely a more light–handed approach could be justified given the significant differences between regular aviation and drone operations.
Finally, enforcement of drone regulation poses significant new challenges. Especially on the local level, tools need to become available to responsible authorities to enforce rules that relate to safety and security but also to the privacy of citizens.
The 7th Florence Air Forum will discuss these issues along three major questions:
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