As industry and media attention around the use of UAS (unmanned aerial systems, otherwise described as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) or commercial 'drones') keeps rising, Bird & Bird advises clients on those issues across a number of offices in Europe and supports a number of industry initiatives.
This was recently illustrated by the RPAS 2014 conference which took place at The Royal Military Academy in Brussels at the end of June, organised by UVS-International, the European trade association for the RPAS industry. Simon Phippard (Of Counsel) and Gabriel Voisin (Associate) were the only lawyers speaking during the 4 day conference.
Simon spoke on liability and insurance issues on a panel with insurers from Tokio Marine Kiln, London and Global Aerospace, Paris. The European Commission is presently consulting on whether to amend legislation for third party liability of RPAS operators - most obviously for surface damage risks. While the Commission indicated, at the conference, that the lack of standardisation did not seem to be problematic, the Commission is awaiting a report from consultants engaged to analyse the situation across Europe. Bird & Bird participated in the consultation to the effect that additional legislation is not necessary.
Gabriel spoke about privacy implications in the context of UAS operations, on a panel with Laurent Lim form CNIL, the French data protection authority. Gabriel provided an overview of the guidelines/obligations issued by data protection authorities across the world. The presentation was followed by practical tips given to RPAS manufacturers, operators and end-user clients to comply with applicable requirements and mitigate enforcement risks.
The RPAS conference is a yearly event gathering national/international/EU authorities, industry representatives and UAS companies from all over Europe. Attendance this year was about 200 delegates.
UVS-International publishes an annual Yearbook at the time of this conference. Gabriel and Simon, who are members of UVS-I study groups on liability/insurance and privacy, both had papers published in the yearbook. The content of these articles are available upon request (see contact details below).