The European aviation community is asking regulators to put a pause on its current proposal surrounding the integration of drones into the airspace and pursue a more comprehensive consultation on the issue that provides for greater industry input and clarity. Members of the “We are all ONE in the sky” initiative, including 17 industry organizations, wrote the European Commission this week saying they believe the upcoming “U-Space” airspace regulation is an important first step toward achieving a performance-based and risk-based approach to integration.
“Unfortunately, while some progress has been made since the draft opinion was first published in October 2019, the draft regulation still does not fully address the concerns that have been consistently raised by the signatories to this letter,” said the organizations, which included the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), as well as groups representing the air transport sector.
The groups representing a cross-section of industry—from commercial airlines to business and general aviation, airports and air traffic controller entities—previously had voiced a number of concerns. Specifically, they said the proposal did not go far enough to address conflict management; did not provide a strong enough link between authorization and control functions; did not provide enough clarity on responsibilities of actors involved in the use of the airspace; did not address the practical aspects of how the framework might be implemented; and did not adequately provide for common information exchanges.
“It is essential to pause activities (at least four months) to provide the opportunity for all manned and unmanned aviation stakeholders to work together and address the key areas of concern,” they told the EC.
“Launching a new and more comprehensive consultation (i.e. with greater time for inputs and more extensive stakeholder engagement) on the revised text would be extremely valuable and welcome,” they said, adding, “transparency is a must.” The organizations asked for the inclusion of key manned and unmanned aviation representatives in the consultation.
“EBAA has always supported an inclusive approach that takes into account the needs of all airspace users. The current proposal from EASA is a promising first step, but more work is required to find a solution that does not limit airspace availability,” said EBAA secretary-general Athar Husain Khan.