Insurance in the age of drones - The regulator

26 Oct 2016

Drones cannot take to the air unless permitted to do so. The Swiss authorities are currently seeking to create a legal framework that allows the technology to develop, while sufficiently addressing safety concerns.

Key points to that framework are:

As a starting point, the Swiss authorities recognize a drone as an aircraft. No authorization is required for a drone in visual contact, weighing below 30kg, at least 100m away from an outdoor crowd and with CHF1 million insurance coverage.

If a drone is an aircraft, it should operate to the safety standards of an aircraft, which require certified organsiation (airline), certified staff (pilot, crew) and aircraft design. A drone, by its nature, cannot meet these requirements. Therefore, seen from the regulatory perspective, three categories of aircraft have emerged: open (within framework); specific (not sufficiently safe, requiring safety measures); and certified (approved to accepted standards and ensures sufficient safety).

The same level of safety is demanded from all three categories, which involves looking at the framework through a holistic risk model to identify potential vulnerabilities. With drones, these are danger to third parties on the ground; mid air collision; and damage to critical infrastructure. The threats to drones come from mechanical failure, human error, collision, adverse operating conditions or datalink deterioration.

Watch Markus Farner's presentation in full length:

Markus Farner

The Swiss authorities do not work in a vacuum, they follow the guidance and principles of the international body, the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems (JANUS). The net result, however, is an efficient one, whereby a drone operator needs a single regulatory clearance to operate within accepted parameters. That does not happen everywhere – in the Netherlands, eight separate permits are required to operate a drone.

For more information, see: bazl.admin.ch.

See also:

Samy Kamkar - The hacker
Raffaello D'Andrea - The technologist
Lisa Ellman - The lawyer
Georgios Toulkeridis, Michael Meadows, Thomas Fausten - The re/insurers
The entrepreneurs - an overview

Test your knowledge of drones!

Summary of Markus Farner's presentation at the Centre's Drone event in October 2016. Farner is leader of RPAS working group at Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation. Summary written by Simon Woodward.