IAOPA Press Releases

IAOPA Stresses Safety as ICAO Considers Guidance for Unmanned Aircraft

Frederick, Md., USA – An international working group is nearing completion on draft document outlining worldwide guidance for operating unmanned aircraft in the same civilian airspace as manned aircraft. The working group, convened by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), will provide information about unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and remotely piloted vehicles (RPA), as well as precautions and a long list of other considerations that need to be taken into account before integrating manned and unmanned aircraft into the same civil airspace.

Frank Hofmann, the representative to ICAO from the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) and a member of the working group that has created the draft document, said, “This guidance is an important step forward, but it is the detailed work still to come as a result of the guidance that will lead to rules guaranteeing safety and equitable access to airspace.�

Hofmann emphasized a number of points important to general aviation operators, including:

  • Operating rules for UAS must take into account their potential impact on general aviation aircraft operating in uncontrolled airspace.
  • Sense-and-avoid systems for RPA will provide the key for safe operations, especially in uncontrolled airspace.
  • There is an emerging trend in some ICAO member countries to classify RPA by weight and/or size with the apparent intent to reduce operating limitations on certain smaller unmanned aircraft that needs to be examined and studied as well.

Hofmann noted that while significant challenges still exist, manned and unmanned aircraft can coexist if appropriate precautions are developed and adhered to as ICAO member countries draft regulations for integrating unmanned aircraft into civilian airspace.

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