In April 2013, the first Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) with two persons on board flew 500 miles in the non-segregated United Kingdom airspace at the same time as other commercial flights were being operated. On that day a new chapter in aviation history was written. This revolutionary flight reflects the rapidly expanding use of RPAS for civilian use and simultaneously raises several complex legal issues. The safe and legal operation of an aircraft is a complex task and even more so in cutting edge technological developments which thrust aviation into a new era.
Proposed legislative enactments in Europe and in the United States are paving the way for the imminent integration of RPASs into non-segregated airspace by 2015 and 2016 respectively. The aim of this paper is to outline some of the complexities inherent in the operation of this pioneering flight related to, inter alia, safety, security, liability and insurance, privacy and protection of third parties. Furthermore, the paper highlights lacunae in the current legal framework and lastly, suggests possible ways to address these issues at the international, European and national level.Air and Space Law