EU rules establishing a dedicated airspace for drones known as the U-space have finally come into force on 26 January.
In the European legislation, there’s no distinction between hobby and professional drone pilots. The U-space was designed to create conditions for both drones and manned aircraft to operate safely and is expected to allow the industry to continue scaling up the market for the drone industry and services. In the U-space, drone flights will be guided automatically from takeoff to landing at the target point. A U-space is typically a demarcated area in the lower airspace of less than 120 meters above an urban environment. In this space, drone flights as well as those of air cabs, helicopters, or airplanes are monitored and coordinated.
2. More complex operations
The new EU rules will notably help carry out more complex and longer-distance operations, particularly in low-level and densely operated airspace, and when out of sight of the remote pilot. Such operations can cover vital services, for instance, the transport of medical samples, assistance to first responders at an emergency scene, but also remote infrastructure inspections. The European Commission adopted the legal framework for this unmanned traffic management system in April 2021, which was first developed in 2016.
As demonstrated in our recently adopted Drone Strategy 2.0, drones are a clear part of the future transport and logistics landscape. There is vast potential when it comes to future cargo and delivery services, as well as other innovative applications, including drone flights with passengers on board.Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport
3. EU countries
The next steps will involve EU countries designating their U-space areas and service providers as well as work on information exchange and navigation performance standards. These technological developments will gradually support the full implementation of the U-space by 2030, as envisioned by the Drone Strategy 2.0 and could lead to innovative air mobility services such as fully automated passenger transport services.
Our Drone Strategy 2.0 will take us to the NexT level of our vision. @EU_Commission has been working closely with established aviation stakeholders and new players to rethink airspace, and to develop an ambitious rollout plan for the safe integration into all classes of airspace. pic.twitter.com/xAyUqwe5aM— Adina Valean (@AdinaValean) March 29, 2022
All EU nations must abide by the drone regulations put in place by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In addition to these regulations, each nation has, or is working on, regulations that are country-specific. In a recent study, the German Association of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles expects the drone market to grow by 525% by 2030. By then, 126,000 commercial and around 721,000 private drones will be flying over Germany.
“Beginning the rollout of the U-space is an important step towards creating the functional, trusted and safe enabling environment that we need to develop a competitive EU drone services market, and I am glad to see several Member States already embarking on their projects and implementation,” added Vălean.