The European Commission's services (DG MOVE), the European Defence Agency (EDA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) are stepping up efforts to address the integration of drones into the European aviation and air traffic management (ATM) system.
At a meeting of the organisations’ Director Generals on 27 October, a new coordination mechanism was agreed upon which aims to address research and development (R&D), as well as regulatory requirements related to all categories of remotely-piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).
It was agreed that these requirements should take into account the "dual-use strategy on RPAS regulation", the preliminary implementation roadmap of which was adopted by EDA Member States’ Defence Ministers in March 2016, for the integration of military drones into the European aviation and ATM system.
The SESAR project will provide the necessary support framework to address the R&D and, in coordination with EASA, the safety regulatory needs in Europe and from a global perspective. This work will be done in close coordination with the EDA while further efforts will be undertaken to engage other organisations in Europe.
The coordination mechanism will look at ATM requirements for drone integration and their technical implications. The findings will be reported to DG MOVE in order to support the definition and coordination of policy initiatives with the relevant Commission services.
The overall ATM requirements for drone integration will be incorporated into the next update of the European ATM Master Plan – the roadmap for ATM modernisation. Planned for 2017, the next update will aim to provide a description of the overarching technical, operational, financial and performance related needs and requirements for the integration of drones, while also addressing the global context of initiatives falling under the aegis of ICAO.