Five years of drone regulation
It seems that it has been a long time since the first regulation for drones in Spain was created. Only 5 years have passed in which a Law, a Royal Decree and regulations in Europe have been created that will come into force in the coming years.
Prohibit what was not allowed
It was not until early 2014 when the State Air Safety Agency (AESA) took the first step in regulating the drone sector. This first step consisted of an explanatory text in which citizens were reminded that the use of these aircraft for commercial or professional purposes was not allowed in the country’s regulation.
With this statement from the agency the drone industry was completely paralyzed, waiting for an exclusive regulation for this type of aircraft to be published.
Betting on security
In October 2014, Law 18/2014, of October 15, on the approval of urgent measures for growth, competitiveness and efficiency was approved. This Law of a transitory nature was designed to adopt urgent reform measures to recover the country’s growth path, after the recession that had been experienced since 2008.
It is important to note that in most of the Rights the regulations are created in a reactive way, that is, after the phenomenon or reality exists. But in the case of Aeronautical Law, the first rules were created before the man was able to fly, creating himself to avoid damage to the people who were on the ground, totally preventive.
Therefore, we can say that the fact that autonomous aircraft appear that anyone could buy and fly has been totally atypical for different administrations and aeronautical agencies around the world, being forced to be reactive rather than preventive.
Therefore, Spain created Law 18/2014 as if the technology were totally new, taking a step back and defining limits of a preventive nature, something that was not well received by the professional sector.
The most important thing to note in this Law is Article 51. This article modifies the first Law on Aeronautical Law, Law 48/1960 on Air Navigation. The first thing it does is incorporate the term remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) in the definition of aircraft, and then relate all non-recreational activity of these with what is indicated in Law 48/1960 and other related regulations.
Although it is true, that this first Law of a transitory nature did not offer many options to RPA companies, it created the basis to begin developing the Spanish industry. Thanks to this Law, the companies had procedures to register as Air Operators, legal structures appeared for pilot training and the creation of schools, coordination systems for flight near uncontrolled airports, etc.
It was a period in which AESA and other entities learned from the RPAS sector, while more than 2000 companies registered as Operators.
National bases for an international future
After more than two years of work, the Ministry of Development approved Royal Decree 1036 of 2017, which regulates the civil use of aircraft piloted by remote control. Practically at the same time that the new Spanish regulations were approved, the process of creating a single regulation at European level was agreed.
What is the point of creating a Spanish regulation when we will soon have a single European regulation?
The answer is to prepare operators, future pilots, institutions and agencies for the transition. Spain had a transitory regulation of just a few pages where much information needed to be detailed. No doubt it was necessary to create a good regulatory text to start creating good foundations on which to build the industry.
It is true that if we compare Law 18/2014 and RD 1036/2017, they are very similar to each other. The difference is between the level of detail of the new Royal Decree. Even so, it has not been until now that the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and the Guidelines for Use have been published in which the regulation has gained strength and helps the growth and possibilities of the industry.
With this new regulation it is possible to fly in scenarios where it was previously totally prohibited. It is true that for this it is necessary to meet a series of complex operational requirements, but that if we analyze in detail they are based on the procedures that will be applied with the new European regulations. Everything indicates a new transition period, in which all participants are learning to evolve.
A short period of long travel
On July 1, 2019 the European regulations were approved, but it will still take a few years to operate at 100%, raising many possibilities and in some cases being more permissive.
In these 5 years many changes have been seen both in the operation of the institutions, the maturation of drone operating companies and the end of others, major changes at the technological level not only in terms of aircraft, but also in the field of communications and software on the ground .
In the Safety sector, not everything is allowed
Many Operating Companies are disappointed perhaps to have imagined that the sector would advance faster or hoping to earn those amounts of money that the statistics promised. Perhaps for not thinking that your business would enter the aeronautical Safety sector in which not everything is allowed, where everything would be in doubt until a few years will pass and technology will evolve and you will gain confidence.
Even so, if both public and private investments that are being made right now and the evolution of regulations in different countries are analyzed, everything indicates only one thing: