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ERA says drones threaten European airspace

The increasing use of drones/RPASs (remotely piloted aircraft systems) is a threat to the safety of European airspace says the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) director general, Simon McNamara, in a call for better regulation and control of the devices.

“Recent near misses between RPASs and commercial aircraft illustrate why swift action must be taken to protect Europe’s passengers, crews and residents through better regulation of European airspace with regards to RPASs,” declared McNamara. “Recent examples of incidents include two near misses in July – one between an RPAS and a commercial aircraft on its approach to Warsaw International Airport and another between an RPAS and an Airbus A320 on its final approach to Heathrow Airport.

“Worryingly, only some EU member states have regulations for the flying of smaller RPASs in place. With a dramatic increase in the use and commercialisation of RPASs, European aviation needs to act now to harmonise standards and rules across the region,” he added.

RPASs weighing less than 150 kg are regulated by some states, and those above by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). However, the rapid increase in the RPAS market for recreational purposes, particularly smaller RPASs, is a significant hazard to commercial aircraft.

“Europe needs urgent measures to safeguard its airspace and incorporate RPAS operations into commercial airspace,” argued McNamara. “ERA welcomes the work being done by EASA and others to integrate RPAS into Europe’s aviation system in a safe and risk-free manner which will allow this innovative technology to grow in a safe way. However, action needs to be taken now with regulators and industry groups joining forces to tackle this issue together.”

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