ICAO intends to develop global framework for safe management of "drone" traffic

At the AUVSI "Xponential 2017" Conference in Dallas, ICAO announced its goal of developing a common global framework for traffic systems for drones, known in technical terms as UTM systems. This initiative is part of the work programme that has been assigned to ICAO by its 191 member States.

In short, UTM systems are a tool for managing low altitude airspace, and they include the registration and identification of drones. Their creation has already been proposed by many ICAO Member States. Drones are formally known as "Unmanned Aircraft System" (UAS). UTS stands for "UAS Traffic Management."

"Today, we are issuing a Request for Information on what we believe are the top priorities that must be addressed by States, industry and academia in order to develop safe and efficient UTM systems," announced Leslie Cary, ICAO"™s Remotely Piloted Aviation Systems (RPAS) Programme Manager. "This will allow further developments to focus on better defined issues, whether technical, operational or legal. It will also ensure Safety continues to remain the driving factor. ICAO is the natural agency to be gathering together the best and brightest from governments and industry to define the problem so that global solutions can be proposed, debated and agreed."

Following ICAO"™s initial foray into the subject of drones, States and international organizations requested that ICAO expand its work programme to shape the framework of global regulations and guidance related to a much broader range of drone operations than had previously considered within its remit. This request was based on three factors. Firstly, the need to maintain the safety for manned aircraft. Secondly, the desire to harmonize domestic UAS regulations. And finally, the desire to ensure that the best options for UAS operations were being considered and recommended.

"Today we"™re seeing many new proposals and innovations emerging in terms of both aircraft and operations at low altitudes, including drones and personal flight vehicles. It"™s in everyone"™s interest to determine sooner rather than later how and where they can safely operate, so as to minimize all related noise and privacy concerns," Cary remarked. "The sooner this framework is agreed upon globally, the sooner industry will be able to align their developing UAS businesses within harmonized UTM systems."

ICAO has now been actively engaged in the field of RPAS and UAS for almost a decade. "States and international organizations, in response to an increasing number of potential and reported encounters between manned aircraft and drones, had requested that ICAO assist with provisions to enhance protections for manned flights. Soon after, we formed a UAS Advisory Group composed of a diverse set of experts, including industry, international organizations and State regulators," Cary explained…

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