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Norway: Government Publishes First Drone Strategy

(July 31, 2018) On April 3, 2018, the Norwegian government published its first drone strategy. (Press Release, Regjeringen [Government], Norges første dronestrategi er på plass [Norway’s First Drone Strategy Completed] (Apr. 3, 2018), Norwegian Government website.)

The provisions focus on six different areas connected with drone operations: Aviation Regulation of Drone Activity and Flight Safety; Research & Development, Competency, Knowledge, and Benefits to Society; National Security and Contingency Plans; Privacy and Protection of Private life; and Environmental Protections. (Departementene, Norges dronestrategi chs. 2–7 (Mar. 2018), Norwegian Government website.) In total the Norwegian government has listed 23 goals (declarations of will/intent) in the strategy (for summary see id. at 7–9).

The purpose of the strategy is to create a framework for drone activities in Norway. (Id. at 11.) The use of drones by civilians has increased rapidly in recent years, up from 200 registered Norwegian users as of January 2015 to over 4000 users in March 2018. (Id. at 12.) Currently, drone activities are regulated in several legal documents ranging from the Aviation Act (Luftfartsloven) to the Drone Regulation (Droneforeskriften) (see discussion in id. at 19). As of the Drone Strategy’s date of publication (April 3, 2018), there had been no aircraft accidents involving unmanned drones (id. at 20); however, a number of incidents have been reported, mainly violations of protected airspace (id.).

According to the Norwegian government, one of the problems of the current regulation regime is that the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority of Norway (Luftfartstilsynet) cannot stop an unlawful drone flight—it is the police that must act to stop the activity. (Id. at 20.)

National Test Center for Drones

The Norwegian government in its strategy further included plans for a national drone test center. (Id. at 27.) The center would engage in drone testing and development, operation development, skills development, certification organs, and forums and facilitators for stakeholder cooperation. (Id. at 28.) Andøya Space Center in northern Norway is described as a possible location for the test center. (Id.)

EU Provisions Expected

Drone operations are under review by the EU, and a regulation is expected later this year. (Civil Drones (Unmanned Aircraft), EUROPEAN AVIATION SAFETY AGENCY (EASA) (last visited July 26, 2018); Opinion 01/2018, EASA (Feb. 26, 2018).) Regulations adopted by EASA are binding on member states, which include Norway as a European Free Trade Area member and member of the European Economic Area. (Norway, EASA (last visited July 26, 2018).) Norwegian officials still expect there will be room for local rules on aviation safety. (Norges dronestrategi, supra, at 21.)