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September is the month when things start slowly moving again after the summer/institutional break. In Brussels, the newly elected Parliament convened to “grill” the future European Commissioners with questions about their agenda, policy priorities and knowledge. In this newsletter we have provided a short report of the confirmation hearings of the future Transport Commissioner – Maroš Šefčovič – and the future Employment Commissioner – Marianne Thyssen. Both candidates passed this first test successfully – they showed confident presence, knowledge, commitment and understanding of the issues.

A general impression is that many buzz words, such as “social”, “employment”, “fair competition”, made their way into the hearings. The acknowledgement of these problems is certainly positive news for our industry and its workers. The lack of coordination between the Member States on social security, taxation and air traffic rights is impeding the aviation industry’s ability to compete on a level playing field. We desperately need to see actions now. We are hopeful that new Commissioners will take up our struggle against unfair competition, social dumping, tax evasion and erosion of the aviation industry. Our industry needs the pilots’ operational experience as well as the political leadership of the EU. The new EU Commission could be the leader reversing the negative trend in our industry.

This edition of Cockpit News highlights one more important topic – the fast-growing Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) industry and safety risks associated with these technologies.  The prospect of unmanned flights and remotely piloted aircraft has been around for a while now but the civil application of RPAS has started growing at an exponential pace. Our regulators and legislative frameworks cannot follow this expansion. The aviation industry faces obvious challenge. There are many aspects which need to be looked at – is the technology safe, how do we integrate it in airspace, or who is liable in case of accident? A practical example of the risks we underline is the use of drones by TV stations and private individuals in accident sites. These RPAS operate in the same airspace as police and rescue helicopters, making their operation more difficult and unsafe, putting at risk the lives of people on the site.   

Many questions are still waiting for answers but our expert pilots have taken up the challenge to help integrate RPAS safely into civil airspace. 

by Nico Voorbach