Tougher French Drone Laws Introduced

French drone laws

Photo: Samantha Smith, CC by 2.0

Tougher French drone laws are in the works, as France’s parliament announced that a new set of laws for recreational drones will be enacted within a few weeks.

France was the surprise leader in commercial drone investment at the beginning of this year. It is home to leading drone manufacturer Parrot as well as drone solutions company Delair-Tech; and until now the relatively relaxed French drone laws made it easy for drone business to innovate.

It looks like the French attitude towards drones may be changing.  Over 300,000 drones were sold in France last year, and lawmakers now seem concerned about safety.

The news laws will increase fines for operators found operating in restricted airspace: penalties will now include fines of up to
€15,000 (a little over $16,800) or up to six months in prison.  In addition, drones weighing over 800 grams – about 1.76 pounds – will need to be equipped with additional security features.  Features include geo-fencing – already available in many drone models – and alarms that go off if the drone loses control.

In addition, the new laws call for a drone registration system that includes a knowledge test on safety and regulations.

Lawmakers have said that the laws will probably not be enforced for a couple of years – until 2019 – in order to give manufacturers and consumers time to upgrade their drones.

Commercial drone businesses have praised the laws, although they could contribute to manufacturer Parrot’s conclusion that 2016 would be “a bloody year” for drone manufacturers.  Michael DeLegarde, the head of Delair-Tech, who told LeMonde newspaper that the laws “made sense and should curb harmful use”.

“Professional users are aware that an accident could cause serious damage to the those in the business of civilian drones,” DeLegarde said.

France has seen several examples of rogue drones in the last year, including several reported “near misses” with manned aircraft and reported sightings of drones flying over nuclear power plants.

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