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Harmonising certification efforts across civilian and military drone operations

We had the chance to sit down again with Maria Algar Ruiz, Drones Programme Manager from EASA during Amsterdam Drone Week 2023. During the interview, she spoke about the need to harmonise civilian and military drone processes because of how fast their political importance has grown over time. 

The ultimate objective is for military and civilian drone stakeholders to establish unified certification processes, streamlining their operational abilities across different European member states. Maria explained that this idea can be traced back to Drone Strategy 2.0, which emphasized the crucial need to unite all stakeholders in order to drive significant industry advancements through synergistic collaboration between military and civilian entities.

One example of this is the type certification that’s granted to civil drone organisations by EASA, which means if someone gets a type certification in one participating member state, it is valid in other member states as well, which means that the civil drone aviation world in harmonised in that aspect. For military drones, each military authority needs to go through its own certification process.

Maria explained that EASA’s goal is to begin to harmonise the certification standards for both civil and military drones to prevent these recertifications from happening. One of the main challenges, however, is that the military missions that drones would operate under are completely different from the missions used by civil drones.

You can attend the full workshop for “Dual use of UAS for civil state/military operations” at Amsterdam Drone Week today (22/03/2023) from 14:00 to 15:15 at D203.

About Maria Algar Ruiz

Maria Algar Ruiz is the EASA Drone Program Manager at EASA. She obtained her Master's in Aerospace Engineering from ETSIA Madrid and ENSICA Toulouse, as well as a postgraduate Master's in Fluid Dynamics from the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Belgium. Her career began at ITP in Spain, working on EJ200 engines for Eurofighter aircraft, before becoming a project engineer at CERN in Geneva.

Maria later joined Airbus as a propulsion systems expert in the Customer Support Engineering division and eventually moved to the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) as a technical assistant to the Operations Director. In 2006, she took on the role of Rulemaking Officer for aircraft operations and CNS aspects at EASA, and by 2008, she shifted to the ATM/ANS department within the Flight Standards Directorate.

Throughout her time at EASA, Maria has held various positions, including EASA SESAR Coordinator, acting Section Manager of the ATM/ANS Regulations Section, and UTM-SESAR Coordinator at EASA's Innovation Cell within the Executive Directorate. Since early 2019, she has led the EASA Drones Programme as its manager within the Executive Directorate, reporting directly to the EASA Executive Director.

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