The UK drone industry is on the verge of facing a “cliff edge threat”, following the expiration of the EU’s accreditation scheme in December 2022.
According to Robert Garbett, a leading advisor on drone technology and chief executive of consultancy firm Drone Major, the UK Government needs to speed up post-Brexit drone accreditation.
UK manufacturers and operators will risk being cut off from trading internationally if no accreditation scheme is set to replace the European CE within the next 12 months.
“It is essential that the UK takes a clear, committed and consistent approach to the development of CA accreditation, something which would have a significant impact on the aviation and drone industries, and will also impact many others,” Garbett said.
“The UK currently has no system in place for the certification of aviation materials and also drones, and with all CE certification no longer valid, firms will have to return to EU certification providers to re-certify, at a great cost both financially, and to the detriment of UK PLC.”
Before Brexit, the UK used the European CE mark, which ensured a product’s compliance with health and safety, as well as performance and environmental requirements.
Following its departure from the EU, Britain has adopted the UK conformity assessed (UKCA) mark, which is now required for all goods placed on the market. The country will also have one year to introduce accreditations that ensure the UK’s compliancy with international standards.
“The process of implementation in itself is already highly complex and, as it stands, it will be very difficult for a certification scheme to be established with United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) in time for the December 2022 deadline, unless the current pace is speeded up,” Garbett said.
“The UK’s departure from CE certification post-Brexit, has created an opportunity for the UK to develop an acceptable means of compliance in line with emerging international standards.
“We must get this right to leverage one of the UK’s biggest opportunities for growth in a technology where if we move fast, we could lead the world.”