UAS ATM Flight Rules

10 December 2018

The many activities for which unmanned air systems (UAS) are used – from military through commercial to leisure – can be performed by pilots who are not necessarily aware of the rules of the air. They are also of very different dynamics to conventional aircraft, being slower, and much smaller and therefore more difficult to see. They can therefore pose a serious safety threat to other, manned, aviation, particularly below the lowest VFR altitude.

It is necessary, therefore, to define new flight rules that apply to these UAS and to other aircraft near them. This document provides a basis for discussion of flight rules with a view to integrating UAS into air-traffic management (ATM), following a workshop and a series of webinars organised by EUROCONTROL in collaboration with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

It is essential for drones flying both in visual line of sight (VLOS) and beyond VLOS (BVLOS) to be incorporated into the Standard European Rules of the Air (SERA). Without the development of low-level flight rules (LFR) into VFR and IFR, full integration will not be possible. The EU drone network will generate additional perspectives that can be leveraged through the sharing of best practices and lessons learned. For the time being, the best option is to develop flights based on the inclusion of VLOS into VFR and BVLOS into IFR.

Implementing flight rules encompasses a wide spectrum of issues that need to be catered for, and the suggestions in this document require basic and focused research and development.