Plans and trials for urban air mobility and cargo transform operational requirements for air transport. The outbreak of COVID-19 led to an expansion in the use drones to deliver medical supplies. Remote access to critical assets whether for security, inspection or disinfection became more critical.

IATA continues to work with the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry and the new players in airspace to define the system requirements and together drive robust regulations that can accommodate new technologies.

While the focus continues to be on the restart and recovery from COVID-19, the different impacts of the pandemic and the anticipated ‘new normal’ environment are accelerating the conversation about new technologies and unmanned aircraft. It is important to ensure that unmanned aircraft operation is safe and efficient and does not create any financial or operational burden on commercial aviation.

Collaboration with key drone stakeholders

IATA supports the work of the ICAO Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel (RPASP) and the UAS Advisory Group (UAS-AG) to drive global standards and recommended practices. 

IATA also works with manned and unmanned industry to: 

  • Identify requirements for UTM/ATM interface and transformation in ATM
  • Assess whether the evolving levels of automation would require reviewing provisions such as Flight Rules and Airspace Classification

Raising safety awareness of drone operators around airports

With the increasing use of UAS for recreational purposes, the occurrences of UAS usage in an unauthorized manner, or with malicious intent, is on the rise. Sightings of uncooperative drones in close vicinity of commercial airliners and airports have resulted in extensive disruption to airline and airport operations, with a large impact on the travelling public.

joint statement (pdf) was released by IFALPA, ACI and IATA in 2016 to raise safety awareness among users of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) in Close Vicinity of Airports.

IATA is working with industry partners to develop a guidance material for the detection and management of unauthorized operation of drones. The guidance material is planned to be finalized in 2021.