The Law Commission of England and Wales is seeking views on how best to regulate self- flying and remotely piloted aircraft for now and in the future.

Automation is already heavily used in aviation today, but recent breakthroughs have seen the development of new, innovative, self-flying, autonomous and highly automated systems and vehicles. These include drones and advanced air mobility vehicles, such as vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, which can provide short journeys for a small number of people.

The consultation will seek views on the following areas; safety, VTOLs, drones, rules of the air, and liability.

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines KC said,“New forms of aircraft are becoming ever more prevalent. It is vital we get the legal framework right so that we can maximise the new opportunities in this field as safely and effectively as possible. We welcome views from anyone involved in this field before we come forward with detailed recommendations.”

The consultation is open until 27 May 2024. The Commission will consult with key stakeholders in the aviation and innovation sectors before recommending a series of law reforms that will ensure the UK is ready to take advantage of oncoming advances in automation. It is anticipated that these recommendations will be published in late 2025, following a second consultation paper on the impact of automation on air traffic management and air navigation services.

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