The Rise of the Drones: Framework and Governance— Why Risk It!

Fox, S. 2017. The Rise of the Drones: Framework andGovernance— Why Risk It! Journal of Air Law and Commerce. 82 (4), pp. 683-715.


Some seventy-one years ago it was identified that there was a role for drones to play within our society. Whilst the military were quick to realize this and develop the technology, it is only recently that the civilian application is being explored on mass. That said, given this prediction and the military direction, legislators find themselves now unprepared for the civilian use and market potential. However, this is not an unprecedented situation – the civil aviation (manned) market has often shown the inability to work together, to be prepared and to cooperate. As a consequence, there has been fragmentation and arguably casualties associated with such lethargy. This paper discusses the aspect of risk, governance and liability (predominately covering safety and security) and the need for a suitable framework to be put in place relating to drone usage (particularly viewed from the perspective of third parties). The paper identifies the challenges, whilst the research focus concerns the direction of the European Union and the lessons learnt from the unity and development of such within the manned civil aviation framework. It is argued, that going forward, there is a need not just to adapt existing aviation systems and mechanism and to apply best practices, but to learn from past failures and the success of other modes and systems.