Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ireland's Growing Drone sector ready for take-off


Yesterday Friday 21st August I was invited to inaugural open day of  'Meet the Drones’ showcase event at Weston Airport hosted by the Unmanned Aircraft Association of Ireland (UAAI). The UAAI has evolved as a result of this significant growth and aims to act as an intermediary between commercial RPAS operators and pilots.

It's estimated that there are 4,000 drones already in use in Ireland.  The sector is growing at a significant rate, with international attention focusing on Ireland as a present and future leader in the commercial drone industry.

The event sponsored by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and attended by stakeholders including Mr. Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, the IAA, the Defence Forces, An Garda Síochána, industry suppliers and the public.

The event showcased the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) industry in Ireland – more commonly known as ‘drones’ – and highlighted safety requirements, new developments in enforcement, regulation, data protection and privacy.

The IAA is working closely with the Irish RPAS industry to facilitate its growth. Ireland has taken a proactive role in this fast emerging area and is currently one of only six EU Member states that has legislation governing the use of RPAS. The vast majority of drones are being used by the hobbyist community as just 80 RPAS users have secured permission to fly from the IAA for commercial operations, such as aerial photography, site surveying or filming.

Speaking on safety regulation and legislation for RPAS operators in Ireland, Mr Ralph James, Director of Safety Regulation, IAA commented  "Ireland is already quite advanced in terms of RPAS legislation for civil use. There has been a significant increase in the availability of drones or RPAS in Ireland in recent times and we are keen to ensure that the general public understand how to operate drones in a safe and responsible manner.

Safety is the IAA’s number one priority and we want to highlight that there are rules in place to help ensure the safe operation of this evolving aviation technology. At the same time, Ireland is well placed to exploit this sector. We strongly support the expansion of the Irish RPAS industry and regulation will be essential to its success".

Captain Julie Garland, Chairperson, UAAI said "The UAAI aims to promote the safe and successful integration of unmanned aircraft into Irish airspace. Our organisation is dedicated to promoting RPAS with emphasis on safety, training and regulation.

We are really delighted with the support of the IAA as this industry has the potential to position Ireland as a global hub for drone development. We're also very pleased with the strong interest that Minister Donohoe has shown today as a sign of his support for helping to develop this sector as a worldwide centre of excellence for RPAS technology."

Any person who wishes to operate a RPAS for commercial purposes must obtain a permission to fly and an aerial work permit from the IAA, before commencing operations in Irish airspace.

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 23rd August 2015 All Rights Reserved.

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