Civilian Use of Drones in the EU - European Union Committee Contents


Civil use of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the EU

The Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Sub-Committee of the House of Lords European Union Committee, chaired by Baroness O'Cathain, is conducting an inquiry into the civil use in the EU of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), commonly referred to as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or 'drones'. Public hearings will be held in October and November 2014.


RPAS vary greatly in size, flying capability and methods of control. They are increasingly being used in Europe, in countries such as Sweden, France and the UK, to check for damage to road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and to spray crops with pinpoint accuracy. Basic national safety rules apply to their use, but these rules differ across the EU and a number of key safeguards are not addressed in a coherent way.

The European Commission has been discussing since 2012 how to regulate the operations of RPAS in the EU. It published a Communication on 8 April 2014 setting out its ideas on how European industry can become a global leader in the market for this emerging technology.[339] At the same time, it acknowledged that the integration of RPAS into the EU's airspace must be accompanied by adequate public debate on societal concerns, including:

·  what is an 'equivalent' level of safety to manned aircraft, and how can RPAS be protected against security threats?

·  how will data protection rules apply to RPAS and their usage?

·  does the current framework for liability and insurance for manned aircraft need to be amended to take into account the specificities of RPAS?

The Committee will accordingly consider whether the Commission has identified the key issues in this debate, and how the EU's actions can benefit the RPAS industry in Europe in a way that is acceptable to all stakeholders.

Respondents need only reply to those questions which they consider relevant to them, and are welcome to address matters which are relevant to the inquiry but are not covered by these questions.


1.  Do you agree with the priorities identified in the European Commission's Communication for opening the aviation market to the civil use of RPAS? Are there other priorities which should have been included?

2.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of regulating RPAS at the national, EU or international levels, for example in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)? Are the EU's actions, proposed or otherwise, consistent with developments in non-EU countries, for example in the United States?

3.  In which new or innovative ways do you think RPAS will be used in the future?

4.  What is your view of the estimate by the AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe that RPAS activities will create about 150,000 jobs in the EU by 2050? What are the factors that might restrict the growth of the RPAS market?

5.  Will the existing competences of Member States for the safety of military and civil aircraft, as well as for more general issues such as the allocation and use of radio spectrum, be impacted by the proposed changes in the remit of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)?

6.  Are the existing data protection, liability and insurance regimes at EU and Member State levels sufficient to address the concerns raised by the potential greater use of RPAS, or are changes required?

7.  Is EU research and development funding for RPAS sufficiently targeted towards the most important issues, for example, getting the airspace regulatory framework right, as against improving the limited airworthiness of today's small and lightweight RPAS?

339   COM(2014) 207 'A new era for aviation: Opening the aviation market to the civil use of remotely piloted aircraft systems in a safe and sustainable manner'. Back

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