Stakeholders who gave written and oral evidence to the Committee’s inquiry on remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), or drones, were given the chance on 12 March to respond to the final report. The Committee, which had been scrutinising the European Commission's proposals for RPAS since July 2014, published its findings on 5 March 2015.
Government officials, businesses, and trade associations took up the opportunity to give their views on the report’s recommendations. Those who attended the event included:
- British Antarctic Survey
- Hybrid Air Vehicles
- Network Rail
- British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA)
- Imperial College London
- Civil Aviation Authority
- British Model Flying Association
- Association of RPAS UK (ARPAS)
- Resource Group Ltd
Stakeholders discussed three main themes at the event: safety regulations, societal concerns and R&D. On safety, stakeholders discussed the feasibility of using a CE marking on small RPAS, the potential for the development of an online database system to identify RPAS operations below 500ft, and the minimum amount of third party liability insurance required for commercial operators.
The role of the police in enforcing existing laws against the misuse of RPAS was discussed alongside the need for further public debate on the acceptability of police and media use of RPAS. Committee Members thanked stakeholders for their contributions, which they noted would be helpful in preparing for the report’s debate in the House in the new parliament.
The Committee’s report supports the EU’s plans to harmonise safety rules across the EU but argues for flexibility in national safety rules for RPAS. The Committee believes that there is huge potential for growth and jobs in this emerging sector - businesses across Europe are already using small RPAS for photography, filming and surveying. However, RPAS could also be used to carry out dull, dirty or dangerous jobs, such as cargo shipping and search and rescue.
The report also recognises growing public concern over the use of RPAS by private individuals, with little knowledge of aviation rules. The report urges the Government and the Commission to adopt a raft of measures to improve safety and the enforceability of existing laws.