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A4E’s Position on Drones

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Drones represent a significant business opportunity for traditional (airlines) and non-traditional (Google, Amazon etc.) players to launch new activities in the aviation market. Drones also will provide citizens with new services and possibilities of re-creation.

This has been recognised by the European Commission and institutions alike. The European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) is in process of developing of the required regulation intending to provide clarity on how drones and manned aviation will integrate in a safe and efficient manner. Regulation needs to ensure that:

  1. Safety culture and training within traditional aviation and drone industry are aligned and compatible.
  2. The public is aware of the safety requirements to protect manned aviation and drone operations.
  3. Certification and licensing of equipment and personnel reflects the risk linked to the operations.

In the light of events at airports e.g. in London, Paris or Berlin over the last years, we think it important to highlight some consideration of the “traditional” airspace users:

  1. Safety and security of passengers, crew and staff is our priority – that is why addressing drone events should not create additional safety risks.
  2. For the benefit of the travelling public suspending of operations at airports is proportionate – apply a risk-based approach when deciding on measures.
  3. Ensure that roles in addressing drone incidents are clear in their responsibilities.
  4. Prevention of drone incidents should take priority (e.g. geofencing).

A4E calls for sensible and controlled integration of drones in the existing aviation environment. This integration requires a holistic approach to not impacting the excellent safety record manned aviation has established. Considering the speed of new developments in the drone industry, regulation development needs to become faster and more efficient. A performance and risk based approach is required, supporting all facets of drone operations and ensuring all areas of concern are addressed, without unduly delaying the commercialisation of drone operations.

We are open to constructive and pro-active discussions within the aviation community on how best to integrate manned aviation and drones into the one airspace we all need to use.

About A4E

Launched in 2016, Airlines for Europe (A4E) is Europe’s largest airline association, based in Brussels. The organisation advocates on behalf of its members to help shape EU aviation policy to the benefit of consumers, ensuring a continued safe and competitive air transport market. With more than 720 million passengers carried each year, A4E members account for more than 70 per cent of the continent’s journeys, operating more than 3,000 aircraft and generating more than EUR 130 billion in annual turnover. Members with air cargo and mail activities transport more than 5 million tons of goods each year to more than 360 destinations either by freighters or passenger aircraft. Current members include Aegean, airBaltic, Air France-KLM Group, Cargolux, easyJet, Finnair, Icelandair, International Airlines Group (IAG), Jet2.com, Lufthansa Group, Norwegian, Ryanair Holdings, Smartwings, TAP Air Portugal, TUI and Volotea. In 2019, A4E was named “Airline & Aviation Business Development Organisation of the Year” by International Transport News. Follow us on Twitter @A4Europe.