Drone owners in Europe will have to register their devices if “dangerous” and aircraft makers ensure that black box recordings can be downloaded in real-time if a plane is in distress under a sweeping reform of Europe’s aviation safety agency.
European Union lawmakers and member states reached a tentative deal early on Thursday on a long-awaited reform of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which includes Europe’s first ever rules on drones.
Under the agreement, drones which can cause significant harm to people either by crashing into them or presenting risks to privacy, security or the environment, will have to be registered.
“Dangerous” drones will be defined as having a kinetic energy of over 80 joules based on their mass and maximum speed. The European Parliament had pushed for a registration threshold of 250 grammes but EU governments resisted.
The rules will apply to all drones, including ones sold in shops for private use.
“The drone industry is soaring and has potential uses in agriculture, delivery, mapping, building maintenance. To ensure these activities develop in full security, a European regulatory framework will prevail,” said Karima Delli, chair of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee.
Risks posed by the increasing use of drones were highlighted in October when a drone hit an aircraft landing at a Canadian airport and there have been several near-misses between drones and passenger planes in Europe.
EU member states and the Parliament had been bogged down in negotiations for a year, with disagreements ranging from drone registration limits to how much EASA should be bound by international CO2 standards to whether overflights should be guaranteed when air traffic controllers are on strike.
Currently, drone rules vary from country to country in Europe.