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IAOPA calls for international UAV operational standardsIAOPA calls for international UAV operational standards

IAOPA calls for international UAV operational standards

International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations

What's IAOPA?

IAOPA - the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations - was formed to make sure that general aviation gets fair treatment around the world.

In the 1950s, AOPA-U.S. became increasingly involved in international aviation as AOPA members started flying to other countries. And AOPA quickly realized that in most parts of the world, GA was a poor stepchild to the airlines. And pilots in many countries looked to AOPA for advice on forming similar associations in their countries. So AOPA looked at creating an "association of associations" to represent GA internationally, particularly before ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization of the United Nations.

IAOPA was founded in 1962 by AOPA-U.S. and the pilot and aircraft owners associations of Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the Philippines, with associations from Germany, Mexico, Italy, and Venezuela joining shortly after. ICAO recognized IAOPA in 1964.

VFR weather minimums, airspace classifications, hemispheric cruising rules, speed limitations in terminal areas, and procedures for mixing VFR and IFR traffic all were considered in ICAO working groups. All aspects of pilot training, certification, and currency, including validation of foreign pilot certificates, were shaped by ICAO groups. Communication, navigation, and surveillance equipment use rules and procedures emanating from ICAO headquarters in Montreal. Few, if any, aspects of aviation escape the purview of ICAO. IAOPA's observer status allows it to participate in the formation of these provisions so important to general aviation.

Today there are 64 member countries of IAOPA, with AOPA-U.S. being the largest of the associations. IAOPA shares headquarters with AOPA-U.S. in Frederick, Maryland. Every two years representatives from member countries come together for the IAOPA World Assembly, held this year in Toronto, Canada. For more information, see

At an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Exploratory Meeting on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in Montreal recently, the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) called for measures to make UAVs compatible with existing air traffic, ensuring equivalent or higher levels of safety.

"Integrating UAVs with manned aircraft creates significant risks that can only be mitigated by strict certification and operational standards designed to ensure safe operations," said Frank Hofmann, the IAOPA representative to ICAO.

The meeting at ICAO headquarters brought together representatives of various nations, the UAV industry, and airspace users to discuss the role of ICAO in establishing standards and recommended practices for these new devices.

Major concerns raised by Hofmann at the meeting included:

  • UAV certification standards must equal or exceed conventional aircraft standards;
  • The need for UAVs to reliably "see" and avoid manned aircraft, especially for the smaller, hard-to-see UAVs;
  • Airspace access must not be restricted to accommodate UAV operations;
  • Existing manned aircraft should not be required to add equipment to assist with UAV compatibility. Additionally, more than 100,000 aircraft have no electrical system that would support such a requirement.

IAOPA and a number of its affiliates have previously stated their concerns and made recommendations regarding UAV operations at both the international and national levels.

June 21, 2006

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