EU Drone Rules Move Closer To Takeoff

Moves towards EU-wide regulation of unmanned aerial vehicles – more commonly known as drones – took another step closer to reality on Thursday.

MEPs and European Council negotiators agreed provisional rules which could eventually see drones and their operators required to register with an EU authority. They would also have to comply with EU safety and privacy criteria, and abide by safety regulations.

At the moment, drones under 150 kilograms fall under rules set by each EU member state. Thursday’s decision in Brussels means drones would have to be marked, just like aircraft are.

EU officials said they believed the proposals – still at an informal stage – could lead to “a uniform level of safety across the EU and greater clarity to drone manufacturers and operators”.

Rapporteur Marian-Jean Marinescu said: “Provisions on drones constitute the first EU-level rules for these new participants in air traffic. The rules will ensure safety, security and protection of privacy for EU citizens.”

Greece introduced drone regulations in January this year. According to Drone-Traveller.com these include a maximum flight ceiling of 120 meters, bans on flights over prisons, military facilities, hospitals or government institutions, as well as having to keep at least 8 kilometers away from airports.

Flights over archaeological sites also require special permission from the Greek Ministry of Culture.

However, one Greek drone enthusiast has blogged about the gap between the reality of these regulations and their enforcement.

Drones, once considered advanced technology, can now be purchased easily online, in stores and even in some supermarkets. With Christmas approaching, it is possible to buy an OEM CX-10W model for as little as €44 online.

An even more basic drone, the eStar Hubble 11, retails for €19 – less than the price of a restaurant meal.

It remains to be seen how Greek legislators will react the EU proposals, but it seems clear that increased regulation is on its way.