On 6 February 2018 EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, posted its Opinion 01/18 in its website,https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/opinions/opinion-012018. At first glance it looks innocuous enough, especially as EASA is charged by the EU with bringing commonality or harmonisation to drone law across the EU.
Based on NPA2017-05, EASA wants EU states to implement the ‘Open’ and ‘Specific’ categories under the pretext that the Opinion will:
- “implement an operation-centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based regulatory framework for all UAS operations conducted in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories;
- ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS operations;
- foster the development of the UAS market; and
- contribute to addressing citizens’ concerns regarding security, privacy, data protection, and environmental protection.”
This Opinion will go forward to the EU Parliament and is expected to be enshrined in EU law later this year.
For the UK CAA, it will be a very interesting time. Its response to NPA2017-05, seehttp://www.caa.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CAA/Content/Standard_Content/Our_work/Consultations/Responses_to_external_consultations/Files/20170914EASACRTNPA2017-05PartA.pdf, was politically correct but as it challenged almost every EASA precept it could be concluded that the CAA is not at all in favour of the proposals.
The Register, see https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/26/easa_drone_regs_opinion/, thinks the CAA and the UK Parliament will have to tow the line and incorporate all the Opinion in the proposed 2018 UK Drone Law. This is like counting your chickens before they hatch. Let’s see when Opinion 01/18 gets into EU Law, where the UK is with respect to Brexit and what other EU countries decide to do. As much as EASA tries to dictate across Europe it hasn’t been very successful so far in the drone world. When dealing with the NAA’s, it’s worth remembering the First Article of the Rules of the Air:
“Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.”
The CAA may well revert to a Churchillian gesture with respect to EASA.
John Moreland, Head of Training, DronePartners