We had the opportunity to talk with Kai Bauer, the Principal Advisor for Sustainable Mobility at EASA, who explained the various sustainability initiatives and research at EASA that are aimed at scaling the drone industry while also prioritising societal acceptance.
Kai emphasises that societal acceptance is crucial to the drone industry's new economy, and it's essential to engage with citizens to understand their concerns before wide-scale adoption occurs. EASA's study showed 83% of European Union member state respondents were positive about drones, but concerns about privacy, sustainability and noise pollution continued to come up. To address these concerns, EASA organises workshops like the one at Amsterdam Drone Week (22/03/2023), titled "Societal acceptance revisited: Collaborative actions to address noise, sustainability, and other citizen concerns" that’s open to participants at the event.
Kai highlighted the importance of proactively addressing issues raised by citizens and cities during our interview and explained how drone organisations could learn from the mistakes that happened during the implementation of e-Scooters throughout urban environments that caused a number of issues including people running them into rivers.
EASA is also actively involved in measuring noise pollution and potential emissions from electric aircraft, including the end-to-end electricity consumption process, which citizens assume to be sustainable already. By developing research and offering open-access data, EASA unites all stakeholders in the drone industry, including cities co-creating the future of drone implementation with their citizens.
Kai concluded our interview with three key takeaways for the drone industry: (1) Develop concrete actions to tackle societal acceptance, (2) establish common standards and (3) ensure collaboration is at the core of all drone industry innovation efforts, encompassing all diverse perspectives that range from organisations to citizens.
Kai Bauer has worked in sustainable mobility and aviation for over 14 years and is currently serving as the Principal Advisor for Sustainable Mobility at EASA. In this role, he is responsible for creating solutions for sustainable mobility and managing the Innovative Air Mobility (IAM) Hub, which is responsible for evaluating new technologies like drones and their usability for the future.
Previous to this role, Kai held other various positions at EASA, including Principal Advisor for Environment & Sustainability, Head of Environment Department, Section Manager for Safety and Environmental Programmes and Section Manager for Impact Assessment and Consultation. Throughout his tenure, he has been instrumental in developing and launching multiple EASA programmes, such as the Environmental Label Programme, Sustainable Aviation Programme, eRules, and Safety Promotion Programme.
Before joining EASA, Kai worked as a Sector Manager at the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, focusing on agriculture, rural development and fisheries. He also served as a Project Manager at sequa in Bonn, Germany, and later as a Programme Officer at the Delegation of the European Commission to Slovenia, working on pre-accession aid projects and policy monitoring in various sectors.
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