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Friday, November 6, 2015

France Contemplates Drone Regulations

The U.S. isn't alone in its concern about how to regulate civil drones. France is concerned, too. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx prepared last month to launch a drone registry task force (which wrapped up three days of deliberations yesterday), a top-level French government agency noted that “current regulation [in France] is inadequate and must be reformed to better prevent and counter malicious acts.” The agency, the General Secretariat of Defense and National Security, reports to France’s prime minister and advises that official and the nation’s president on domestic and external security affairs. The French economic intelligence consultancy, ADIT, summarized the Oct. 20 report, “The Rise of Civil Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in France: Challenges and Potential State Responses,” in its latest weekly newsletter. The report said there were no professional drone operators in France in April 2012, while as of last June there were more than 1,800 flying 3,000-plus unmanned aircraft on aerial photography, infrastructure patrol, agricultural and other missions. (It cited estimates by France’s FAA, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, that there are 150,000 to 200,000 recreational drones in France, 98% of them weighing less than 4.5 lb.) In the 12 months that ended Aug. 31, 2015, the secretariat’s report said, there were 79 incidents in which drones overflew nuclear, military, industrial and airport sites and other restricted areas. (Though such incidents have tapered off in recent months.) The report also says, “The notion of ‘the drone’ does not exist” in French law, “which does not allow the application of a coherent set of rules to these particular aircraft.” The report calls for the development, in consultation with the French Parliament and drone users and manufacturers, of new regulatory requirements, include registration of certain drones, mandatory training and new electronic identification and aircraft illumination standards. The secretariat’s report, which is in French, is available here.

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