Recent research work carried out on 10 year-long set of reported civil incidents involving drones around the world has found that technical problems (most notably, broken communication links) rather than errors by operators are the major cause of those incidents (circa 64% of the total). This evidence points to the need for adequate airworthiness rules for drone safety and better reporting of accidents.
Whilst multiple local or regional initiatives by aviation safety regulators have emerged worldwide to address this issue, they have been often impacted by the needs for providing timely responses to regional market demands, eventually resulting in significant regional differences in the technical requirements of recreational, professional-grade and specialized industrial drones. The growth in the number and diversity of mass-market drone operations – cf. delivering packages, taking photos, geo-surveying, firefighting or search and rescue – make it essential that safety regulations, including relevant technical aspects, ultimately keep-up with this buoyant and rapidly-growing industry.
In parallel, penetration in the Europe market is often hampered by a lack of mutual recognition of drones-based products and services between States – obliging manufacturers and operators to seek certifications with multiple national authorities.
The EU, through EASA, is currently developing a harmonised performance-driven regulatory framework building upon "best practice". This framework should ultimately ensure safe and environmentally sound operations and reduce the barriers to market entry for businesses that would like to integrate drones in their value chain. The implementation and effectiveness of such a framework will depend eventually on a relevant body of appropriate technical standards – supporting demonstration of compliance of product features or technologies with applicable requirements. Such over-arching framework could equally serve as an input for global standards and procedures.Scope:
Gather comprehensive global information on on-going and planned work on technical rules, standards and procedures for civilian markets and/or use in civilian airspaces,;
Critically assess and benchmark the gathered information, providing a knowledge-base of "best practice" and data aimed at supporting the EASA's regulatory due-process; particular emphasis shall be given to the provision of data for purposes of validation of specific product or technical requirements;
Contribute to the development and subsequent validation of a well-reasoned set of technical standards that are appropriate for all relevant categories of drones.
Consortia should include organisations from all parts of the drone value-chain – drone/part suppliers, operators, academia, and safety regulators – to ensure the triplet of user-producer-oversight competences required for full performance and swift delivery of the work.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million each would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact:
Support to the on-going EU regulatory process for technical rules, standards and procedures for civilian drones to enable safe, environmentally sound and reliable operations in Europe with a view to accelerate the timing and enhance the quality of such due-process. Generate additional leverage for Europe in the international negotiations for global rules and standards.
Increase the acceptance of EU standards in the global drone product and service marketplace, generating economies of scale towards reducing costs whilst de-risking customer choice.
Offer better opportunities for European drone designers, manufacturers and operators in accessing global markets.Cross-cutting Priorities:
Graham Wild, John Murray, Glenn Baxter; "Exploring Civil Drone Accidents and Incidents to Help Prevent Potential Air Disasters"; Aerospace, 2016; 3 (3): 22 DOI: 10.3390/aerospace3030022
Including activities at ASTM, JARUS, EUROCAE (WG73, WG93, and WG105)