The European trade association for the drone sector UVS International ceases to exist. The organization, which was founded 25 years ago, aimed to stimulate the unmanned aviation sector. However, the organisation encountered financial problems, partly as a result of the long time it took to arrive at harmonised European regulations, which put pressure on revenue from member contributions.

Promoting unmanned aviation The

UVS International association was founded in 1995 by Peter van Blyenburgh, with a three-pronged objective: firstly, to achieve harmonised European regulations for drones, second to develop standards for unmanned traffic management, and thirdly, to convey the benefits of unmanned aviation to a wide audience.

In order to achieve these goals, UVS International organised numerous international conferences and a variety of working groups were created, including representatives from drone manufacturers, operators, policymakers and other stakeholders. This led to numerous recommendations to EASA, ICAO, JARUS and the European Commission, among others.

Financial problems

In recent years, however, the organization has increasingly faced financial problems. This was partly due to declining income from membership fees. The uncertainty resulting from the long time it has taken to reach European regulations and the COVID-19 pandemic led to a strengthening of that negative spiral: some members were not even able to pay dues at all.

A few weeks ago, during a member meeting, it was decided to use UVS To abolish international, so as to avoid bankruptcy. In addition, the work organization Blyenburgh & Co, responsible for the management of the association, has decided to suspend a number of claims. On 31 March 2021, UVS International will be formally terminated.

‘Real difference made’

Former DARPAS Chairman Rob van Nieuwland was closely involved with UVS International. He regrets the lifting of the association. “An international organization to promote drone use has been defunct after almost 25 years. As with DARPAS, it was a challenging trajectory on unexplored terrain. By raising together and involving all kinds of parties, we have made a real difference. Big thanks go to Peter and the board members, who have invested so much enthusiasm, energy and resources to achieve results.”

Van Nieuwland fears the fragmentation of the industry. “Unfortunately, there are now many parties who all think they can solve the problems on an individual basis. There is far from a level playing field: such as the differences in government tariffs between countries, the problems of reaching international standards for the Cx labels, the lack of mutual recognition of certificates and standards for training and examination. UVS International was involved in everything and provided hands-on information. Unfortunately, they now leave it to the big parties. They don’t think of those thousands of small businesses in Europe that UVS International represented. A shame that had to come to an end to this.”