Minister Ross launches Drone Symposium

Thursday 30th May 2019

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Shane Ross, T.D. was pleased to open a symposium on drones today in Dublin Castle. The symposium – which was co-sponsored by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Irish Aviation Authority - was held to coincide with the imminent publication of the EU implementing rules on drones.

The Minister said: “Modern drones are great examples of how technology can radically change how we live and work. They are already impacting across a wide range of industries: including film making, mapping, engineering, policing and search and rescue. The opportunities they open to us are vast, and so today’s symposium offers a chance to examine how to embrace the opportunities presented by this new technology while ensuring the highest safety standards in aviation.”

The symposium attracted international speakers – from the US and UK – and was attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders, with a focus on  the growing market and opportunities for the use of drones in Ireland, how drone usage is to be regulated and the challenges in ensuring that safety, security, environment and privacy issues are effectively addressed into the future.

Minister Ross stated “I very much hope that in bringing policy makers, regulators, local authorities, airport authorities, business interests, academics, and drone operators together that today’s event will capture the breadth of the possibilities that drones could open up to us in the future but also underline the importance of having regulation to ensure their safe use.”

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Note to editors:

The symposium was held to coincide with the publication of the EU implementing rules on drones, in accordance with the EU Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139.

The symposium was organised by the Department and the IAA to provide stakeholders with a forum to discuss the growing market and opportunities for the use of drones in Ireland, how drone usage will be regulated and the challenges in ensuring that safety, security, environment and privacy issues are effectively addressed.

Key issues up for discussion at the symposium include:

  • Opportunity – how can we maximise the positive impact of drone technology and use in Ireland;
  • Compliance – what are the new EU rules on the use and registration of drones and how do these differ from our current legislation;
  • Future Challenges – how do we deal effectively with safety, security, environmental and privacy issues.

Representatives of entities from across the spectrum of the drone community as well as policy makers, regulators and airport authorities were invited. Approximately 200 delegates attended.

What are drones?

In technical terms, they are called them unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), as they are aircraft operated with no pilot on board. Nevertheless, everybody just calls them drones. They can vary from very small aircraft as big as a fly on your finger (nano-drones weighing just 10-20 grams) to very large ones equivalent in size to manned aircraft. Major aviation companies already have projects for cargo aircraft the size of an A320, and their next step will be to propose projects for cargo and passenger flights.

Applications for small drones are limited only by our imagination. As the technology is constantly improving and prices are dropping (they range anywhere from tens to thousands of euros), everybody can buy a drone and start their own activity or new hobby.

The market potential of drones is considerable, and this creates new job opportunities from which we will all benefit. In addition, drones can also save lives and improve efficiency. They can be rapidly deployed in response to emergencies and relief operations or used for power line inspections, thus minimising the risk of human involvement. Another very positive impact might be a reduction of carbon emissions, as we will replace some big and heavy helicopters by small electrically-powered drones.

For further information on drones please go to -

EU Basic Regulation (EU) 2018/1139

New EU regulation governing the certification, oversight and enforcement of aviation operations in Europe came into effect in 11 September 2018.

The regulation consolidated the scope of European Union competence to cover the full spectrum of the aviation landscape and reinforce the European aviation system as a whole.

The Basic Regulation now applies to all unmanned aircraft irrespective of their operating mass. The only exceptions are certain small tethered aircraft in Annex I of the Basic Regulation which will remain under national competence.

The EU legislation on the operation of civil drones breaks new ground by combining product and aviation legislations. In particular, design requirements for small drones (up to 25kg) will be implemented by using the well-known CE marking (“Conformité Européenne”) for products brought on the market in Europe.

Now all drones available on the market will have CE marking, a number between 0 and 4 that will specify the class of the drone (C0, C1, C2, C3 and C4). The operator will then find in each drone package a digital consumer information with the “do’s and don’ts” on how to fly a drone safely.

New EU implementing rules on drones

On 24 May 2019 the European Commission adopted EU rules to ensure increasing drone traffic across Europe is safe and secure for people on the ground and in the air. The rules will apply to all operators of drones – both professionals and those flying drones for leisure.

These rules, which will replace existing national rules in EU Member States, not only address safety but also contain important building blocks to mitigate drone related security risks. Through operators' registration, remote identification and definition of geographical zones, all national authorities will have means to prevent misuse or unlawful drone activities. As of 2020 drone

operators will have to be registered with national authorities. In principle, the rules apply to all drones regardless of weight. However, the majority of drones concerned will belong to the market of mass-produced drones, which merely need to meet a minimum set of requirements such as registration and electronic identification. Operators of drones weighing less than 25 kg will be able to fly those without prior permission under a certain number of conditions. Among others such conditions are that the drone must not fly higher than 120 meter and that the operator always keeps the drone in his/her visual line of sight and flies it far away from people.

Member States will be able to define so-called "no-fly zones" where – through satellite geo-location - drones will not be allowed to enter. "No-fly zones" may include airports and airfields or city centres.


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