EASA launches first survey for drone manufacturers


EASA is asking unmanned aircraft system (UAS) manufacturers to complete a survey gauging existing trends and future growth in Europe’s civil drone industry. 

The first of its kind survey will be used to support the future development of regulatory material on UAS, said EASA. The survey asks OEMs of either drones or kits to be installed on drones that provide additional capability, such as parachutes and flight termination systems, to complete the survey by February 9, 2024. 

Former EASA certification specialist Yves Morier is a fan of industry surveys provided they are kept short. “Mentioning that the objective is to support rule-making should encourage stakeholders to reply as they can see a clear benefit to reply,” he told us. “Another important point is to guarantee confidentiality. Offering to provide email for further contact is a good point as it allows to complement the survey with interviews. Surveys also come as a complement to more in depth studies, research, impact assessments, theses, workshops, working groups, etc.”

The size range appears quite open in the survey. However, Morier thinks that the use of drones in a civilian context of a mass above 600 kg is quite unlikely due to cost and complexity. “However, I understand that the purpose of the survey is twofold: the drones themselves but also kits to be installed on drones.” Morier told us he thinks the latter is the most interesting part of the survey. “One could imagine if there are typical kits related to safety, that EASA develop the concept of approval of such kits independently of the drones in a comparable manner to the ETSO approval of today. Of course, this idea would need to be supported by a thorough impact assessment,” he said.

But what trends and growth pathways might emerge? Morier admits it is a difficult question. He thinks due to the development of use cases such as delivery and surveillance/mapping, results may point to an increase in long range VTOL drones with a mass of between 50 to 200 kg. “In the short term, AI will be used to analyse the data collected, however in the medium/ long term AI may support increased levels of autonomy. This is just my views and a look forward to read the results of the survey as I hope they will be made public,” he concluded.

Access the UAS survey here.

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