The Riga Declaration – Europe Reaches Broad Consensus On Further Steps To Open RPAS Market

RigaOn 5-6 March 2015, the “Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: Framing the future of Aviation” conference took place in Riga, Latvia. This event was organised by the Ministry of Transport of Latvia and the Civil Aviation Agency of Latvia, in cooperation with the European Commission, during the Latvian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The event was built on the orientations given in the EC Communication on opening the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) market [EC COM(2014)207 – A New Era for Aviation – Opening the aviation market to the civil use of RPAS in a safe and sustainable manner].

This two-day conference on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) was opened by Anrijs Matīss, Minister for Transport of Latvia and the scene for the conference was set by Joao Aguiar Machado, Director General of Directorate General Mobility and Transport, European Commission.
For the video of the opening speeches click HERE.
For the conference programme, click HERE.

The event brought together the main players involved in the RPAS industry’s development in Europe (Members of the European Parliament, European Commission representatives, Directors General of civil aviation authorities of the EU Member States Data Protection Authorities and leaders of the manufacturing and service supplying industry) and found broad agreement on the main principles to guide the regulatory framework to allow civil RPAS operations throughout Europe from 2016 onwards. These principles are summarized in the Riga Declaration on Civil RPAS (Drones), which was made public at the end of the conference by Violeta Bulc, European Union (EU) Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, in the presence of Margus Rahuoja, Director for Aviation and International Transport Affairs, Directorate General Mobility and Transport, European Commission.
The UVS International delegation attending the conference consisted of 25 persons, representing the national RPAS associations in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, as well as various other association members.
For a photographic overview of the event, click HERE.

“The aviation manufacturing industry, the potential users of the remotely piloted aircraft systems, and also public authorities understand that promoting affordable civil RPAS is a project of great opportunity for the European economy. The benefits of the development of the services provided by RPAS will be enjoyed by a vast range of European citizens through new jobs and innovative services. Therefore Member States will have to immediately take on the work on the regulation of RPAS in order to bring more certainty on how the RPAS industry should develop. In order to plan the investments, the industry has to see clearly what the requirements are that manufacturers and operators have to meet. At the same time, society must be certain that their fundamental rights to privacy and data protection are respected,” pointed out Anrijs Matīss, Minister for Transport of Latvia.

Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Mobility and Transport said: “Drones are the talk of the year, which is why we’ve come together in Riga, to find out how we, as a society want to live with drones. Of course we cannot adopt new rules and regulations here today. It will take some time. But we have made our intentions clear in the “Riga Declaration on Civil RPAS (Drones)”. On one hand, industry needs to know which direction the rules are going to make investment decisions. On the other, citizens need to know how we’ll uphold their safety, security and fundamental rights, for them to accept that drones will become more common in their daily lives. As regulators, we have a clear responsibility to address these issues – society expects nothing less from us. I am convinced that this conference has made a great contribution to this objective and that we’ve moved one step closer towards allowing drone operations everywhere in Europe — from 2016 onwards.”

The main principles listed in Riga Declaration on Civil RPAS (Drones) involve the necessity to ensure clear rules for manufacturers and potential users, high levels of safety, security & data protection requirements, as well as RPAS operators’ responsibility and effective information exchange. These main principals are:
1. Drones need to be treated as new types of aircraft with proportionate rules based on the risk of each operation.
2. EU rules for the safe provision of drone services need to be developed now.
3. Technologies and standards need to be developed for the full integration of drones into the European airspace.
4. Public acceptance is key to the growth of drone services.
5. The operator of a drone is responsible for its use.

The video of session 1 “RPAS New Technologies to Produce Jobs & Growth” can be found by clicking HERE.

The conference was ended by a press conference by Anrijs Matīss & Violeta Bulc.
For the video of this press conference, click HERE.

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