With the publishing of our latest Drone Regulation Report come a whole set of new drone regulation updates from across the globe. At the start of this year, our blog post about regulation mentioned the different origins of American and European regulation before discussing upcoming requirements and an outlook for the following two years. In this latest report, we cover key topics for all industry shareholders: new EU and US regulations, national drone regulations around the world, international standards for drone operation, the 2021 Drone Readiness Index ranking, UTM programs and drone regulation trends. So here is a glimpse of what you can expect on our latest Drone Regulation Report 2022.
As we described at the beginning of the year, a lot was expected to happen on the regulatory front in the two leading regions: Europe and the United States. In the EU, the 31st of December 2020 was the deadline for member states to enable drone operation in the open and specific category of the new EU regulations. Among other things, this means that higher risk drone operation beyond the standard limitations of the open category must be issued by the relevant member state authority according to the SORA process. As part of the latest drone regulation, this year also saw the initial publication of a U-space regulatory framework in April, which is another step forward for the distribution of European airspace.
Meanwhile in the USA, the FAA published the new rule on Operations Over People and At Night on January 15, 2021. Then in June 2021, the FAA established the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) “UAS BVLOS ARC Charter” to develop a regulatory path for routine use of BVLOS operation. This Committee has been expected to provide a draft recommendation for a BVLOS regulatory framework by the end of 2021, which will form part of the latest drone regulation. Finally, the FAA also published the final rule on Remote ID in October, which will require most drones operating in US airspace to have remote ID capability.
Originally published: December 2021
Starting on January 1st, 2022, EASA member states must make available the information on geographical zones for geo-awareness. This must be done in a digital format harmonized between the EU countries in order to ensure accessibility and cross-operability. Additionally, preparation of U-Space compliance will be mandatory in 2023, so EASA countries must also make preparations for this. In the United States, one key thing to keep an eye on is the developments in the BEYOND program, scheduled to begin its BVLOS capabilities testing at the end of 2021. This program will be an example for other countries and companies to learn from in order to adjust their own legislation and operations.
As the infographic shows, other countries are also on path to implementing their latest drone regulations. India has recently published an important high-level UTM roadmap with next steps for UTM implementation. Similarly, Australia, South Korea and Brazil have also taken steps towards UTM legislation in order to provide a more secure and organized airspace.
Other countries such as the USA, Canada, and Japan have taken a more BVLOS-focused approach to their latest drone regulation. The USA is certainly active with other operations such as operations over people (OOP) and Remote ID, but these have already taken steps in 2021 and it is BVLOS that will take new steps in the near future. And one final topic to keep an eye on will be eVTOL certification, given that many passenger drone companies aim to start operations in 2024. And this brings us to the topic of how prepared various countries are to adopt a more varied use of drone technology.
A unique source of insights found in the Drone Regulation Report is our custom-made Drone Readiness Index (DRI), which incorporates the latest drone regulations from around the globe. The DRI is based on several factors which help describe how much a country’s regulatory landscape might translate into a high rate of drone adoption. These factors are:
Based on this criteria, the top countries in the 2022 Drone Readiness Index are Australia, Belgium and Norway. These countries score among the top in Operational Scope, Administrative Infrastructure, and Airspace Integration, which certainly helps their ranking. Last year’s leaders (Singapore and UAE) experienced a significant drop, though they nevertheless remain among the top 20 countries and ahead of the United States (despite the leading international role that the FAA traditionally enjoys when it comes to influential and latest drone regulations).
There has been a vast amount of activity on the regulatory front. This is a very welcome development given that the drone industry sees this as the most important driving factor. Aside from the latest regulations mentioned in this post, there has also been further simplification of applications for drone operation beyond standard limitations, as well as development of technical standards (e.g. DAA, C2 link) which enable BVLOS operations. There is also a planned standard (prEN 4709-001) which provides technical specification and verification methods for product compliance with (EU) 2019/945 by drones operated in the ‘open‘ category.
And all of this does not even begin to cover increasingly-important topics like certification, UTM-specific developments in various countries, or the evolution risk-assessment processes such as SORA. In other words, the regulatory mechanisms for the drone industry have continued to evolve rapidly. The latest drone regulations have taken crucial strides towards more BVLOS operations, operations over people, and operations at night, so we are rapidly approaching a time when most of the legislation necessary for large-scale drone operations will be in place.
You can find out more about these in our Drone Regulation Report, and stay tuned for more updates throughout 2022.
Ed Alvarado holds a Master’s in International Relations, Bachelor’s in Economics & Philosophy, and has lived in 7 countries.