Drone Regulation changes in Spain: urban areas & night flights

Drone regulation in Spain: urban areas & night flights

Drones y Espacio aéreo compartido

The 15th of December 2017 the Spanish Government approved the new regulation on drones. From now on it will be allowed to fly in urban areas and over crowds of people, upon approval of AESA (Spanish Aerospace Security Agency). The drone technology is constantly improving and is being implemented in different fields. That is why it is necessary to incorporate regulations to expand the number of environments where it is possible to fly UAVs.

The recently approved regulation, which replaces the content of the Law 18/2014, allows more extensive and flexible operations, guaranteeing always the security of operations and promoting the growth of an emerging industry closely linked to R&D and tech innovation, according to “Ministerio de Fomento – Ministry of development”.

The past regulation established minimum requirements for operations with UAVs but it did not cover all possible activities in which the industry has been raising and evolving. There are plenty of applications in audiovisual practices: using UAVs to record videos as they can carry even heavy cameras, for taking pictures and also recording action sports. It is also possible to incorporate auto-following flight, that follows a target at a specified distance with automatic flight.

Professional applications of this technology include flying over agricultural fields allowing, for example, a precise fumigation. The use of this type of aircraft in agriculture is a step forward in process control and in cost savings for the sector due to the advantages it provides for detecting pests and weeds.

This technology can also be used in civil works or in the construction industry and there are several reasons that would justify it. First for its potential to plan, promote or market new works or projects. For example, using virtual reality techniques and 3D digital models it is possible to create a virtual view of a project in a built environment or even to create the view that would be seen from a window or viewpoint of a new building.

The use of UAVs will allow a better follow-up of projects, both for progress of the work and the inspection of work units, the logistics or the suitability of the work, safety and even hygiene. The unmanned aircrafts also offer an enormous potential for the execution of 3D tasks: dangerous, dirty and dull.

There are Spanish companies, such as IBERDROLA, which already uses UAVs to perform inspection and maintenance of infrastructures with a pioneer system for the inspection of wind turbine blades, eliminating high costs and labour risks to employees. In addition, a courier company such as Correos (Spanish Post) that began to investigate the feasibility of performing distribution tests through unmanned aerial vehicles, in order to use these devices in a complementary way to its network of postmen to ensure shipments to areas of difficult access and in adverse weather conditions.

The first step for the integration of drones in shared airspace  

The number of drone applications provides forced the law to extend its framework. This meant the first step to the integration of UAVs in the shared space. The new regulation establishes a path to more flexible and extensive operations that guarantee flight safety. This, it sets training requirements for drone and pilot operators; creating new employment opportunities as it is an emerging work activity for all types of sectors in which the use of professional drones can be applied. Thus, it sets training requirements for drone and pilot operators; creating new employment opportunities as it is an emerging work activity for all types of sectors in which the use of professional drones can be applied.

Talking numbers, in Spain there are registered almost 3000 operators, 3700 pilots 4300 drones, according to AESA, this highlights the growing importance of this activity. In addition, there are 74 drone academies and about twenty manufactures in our country that are dedicated to this segment. The past regulation, approved in 2014 on a temporary basis, established minimum requirements for drone operations, but did not cover all the casuistry of potential activities that the sector itself has been raising during last months.

It also establishes the conditions that the design, manufacturing and maintenance organizations of this type of aircraft must meet, as well as the training requirements for their piloting. Last November, the European Union and the European parliament concluded a principle of agreement to establish the first common rules for the civil use of drones in the European Union, with minimum requirements in terms of security and data protection and a registry of aircrafts. The technology applied to civilian drones could reach a niche market of 10% in EU aviation in the next years, that is, about 15.000 million $ per year. Brussels estimates that this industry could create approx. 150.000 jobs in the EU by 2050.

As explained by the Ministry of Development: “During the first quarter of 2018, the Ministry of Public Works will complement the new framework with the publication of the Strategic Plan for Drones, a tool that, beyond the regulatory scope, will draw the lines of action to maximize this segment of the industry in our country, putting all its technological potential and innovation at the service of citizens.”

Being aware of the changes involved in the approval of this law, at Global Robot Expo we put together UAVs and the aerospace sector, and organize a series of conferences with experts in this field, who will comment on the opportunities in the systems UTM (UAV Traffic management).

If you want to know why is now the best time to invest in this technology, we recommend you this article, written by Miguel Ladrón de Cegama, in which he shares the implications of this law in the Spanish UAV market.

Leave a Reply