Following the Dutch trade association DCRO, the Flemish drone federation EUKA is now also calling on its members to sign a fire letter expressing concerns about the difficult implementation of the new European drone regulations. As in the Netherlands, there are long lead times for permit applications. People are also concerned about the management of geozones. Meanwhile, almost 200 stakeholders have signed the letter.

Open Letter

The open letter issued by EUKA to Minister Gilkinet (FPS Mobility) is a response to the problems that members are experiencing with the new EU regulations. According to the authors, Belgian drone operators face one setback after another and many talented companies are forced to put their towel down. In particular, the laborious implementation of the new legislation would be at issue. EUKA also denounces the differences with surrounding countries.

In the letter, EUKA mentions the two main pain points. The first issue concerns the lead times of permit applications. “This is typically 2 months, which is unacceptably long for professional pilots who have been flying for years and day and know what they are doing. We understand, of course, that the overhaul must be done thoroughly, but the (temporary) deployment of additional staff to process the files or to make concrete proposals to better align the files with expectations can probably help.”

The second pain point concerns the way in which geozones are managed by skeyes. “Even if an operator and pilot comply with all the rules, skeyes in the geozones it manages has the right to keep all drones grounded for no apparent reason. This has been happening for a few weeks and as a result the already licensed operations are blocked. The result is that drone operators cannot perform the assignments. The clients are dissatisfied and turn their backs on the use of drones. Ultimately, the drone operators are in a bad light and are confronted with both economic damage and consequential damage. The sector is under great pressure and therefore threatens to be stranded on a general bankruptcy.”

Just like in the Netherlands, the Belgian drone sector fears lagging behind and an influx from foreign operators. “The process of drones that are entering as new digital technology is irreversible. So the question is whether we pull the bandwagon ourselves and let the drone sector flourish in Belgium or if we let ourselves be overwhelmed step by step by foreign drone companies when our own companies no longer have a clout.”

Call for consultation

In the meantime, the letter has been signed by 192 stakeholders. EUKA calls on the Minister to initiate a roundtable discussion with the relevant representatives in the sector to come up with concrete proposals to remedy the pain points.