An Exploratory Investigation of UAS Regulations in Europe and the Impact on Effective Use and Economic Potential
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have rapidly become more common in various applications. At the same time, the need for a safe UAS operation is of great importance to minimize and avoid risks that could arise with the deployment of this technology. With these requirements, UAS regulators in the European Union (EU) are making large efforts to enable a reliable legal framework of conditions for UAS operation to keep up with new capabilities of this technology and to minimize the risk of property damage and, most importantly, human injury. A recent outcome of the mentioned efforts is that new EU drone regulations are into force since 1 January 2021. In this paper we aim to provide a sound overview of recent EU drone regulations and the main changes to the rules since the first wave of regulations adopted in 2017. We highlight how such new rules help or hinder the use of UAS technology and its economic potential in scientific and commercial sectors by providing an exploratory investigation of UAS legal frames in Europe. An example of the impact of legislation on the operation of one particular UAS in Germany is provided, which has been in use since 2013 for atmospheric research.