Drones are defined as all aircraft designed to fly without a pilot on board. The traffic management system that feeds drones with information on when, where and how to fly is called the U-Space.
Drones and U-Space are important for the greening and digitalisation of the European economy. European rules keep drone operations safe, secure, green and respectful of privacy, and therefore promote social acceptability of the technology.
What is the economic benefit?
Drones deliver cargo efficiently and will also deliver passengers in the future. Data gathered through drone operations can improve the efficiency of various operations. For instance, drones can optimise irrigation or fertilisation in agriculture, or support infrastructure maintenance and inspections. In short, all citizens and companies can benefit from drone services.
What actions is the European Commission undertaking?
From the outset, the Commission has been financing research and innovation projects to develop, deploy and validate new drone technologies.
To regulate drone operations, the Commission has adopted EU drone rules. These take an ’operation-centric’ approach, in which the risk of a particular operation is taken as the starting point. The same drone could fly over a city centre or over the high seas, but the risks in the air and on the ground would differ. The rules must reflect this.
The Commission is also engaging with stakeholders. It has created a European Network of U-space Demonstrators to promote SME involvement in drone services and U-Space services markets. The Commission is supporting the network together with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the SESAR Joint Undertaking and Eurocontrol.