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Nascent Drone Regulations Worldwide: A Legal Framework for Civil RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems)

Jean-Louis Van de Wouwer

Manufacturers, such as Airbus and Yamaha Motor, airlines such as Lufthansa, and express delivery operators, such as Amazon, FedEx, DHL and UPS, are examining possible ways to tap into the nascent civil drone market. Drone maintenance and drone pilot training present potential business opportunities in unmanned aerial vehicles. Regulators have been slow to define and coordinate rules on the non-military use of drones, due to fears about confrontations with passenger and cargo aircraft, but that does not mean airlines and drone operators will remain separately regulated forever. According to a 2014 report by Teal Group, on aerospace consultancy, almost US $91bn will be spent on drones over the next decade, and 14% of this expenditure being focused on civil uses. Being part of civil aviation now, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) can fall under many international rules and jurisprudence that were established for aviation, but there is also a perspective taking due account of the particular features of RPAS. In this article, the author aims to provide a description and prospective analysis of the most relevant legal issues for the use of drones.

Dr Jean-Louis Van de Wouwer, Brussels-based publisher and Managing Director at the consulting firm HOMES INTERNATIONAL.


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