The Malta National Civil Aviation Policy Launched for Public Consultation

The Drones Policy: Privacy and Data Protection Concerns

| Published on 30 Sep 2021

Drone data protection

The draft National Civil Aviation Policy has just been launched for public consultation as a catalyst for a future air-sea cargo hub. With mention of a possible drones sector as part of the policy, questions arise on policy considerations for data protection & privacy.  

Plan for a Future Air Corridor Between Malta & Gozo

After the commitment made by Prime Minister Robert Abela on the government’s plan to establish the future air corridor between Malta and Gozo, Transport Minister Ian Borg has materialised the draft plans for this new endeavour, amongst other things, termed the draft National Civil Aviation Policy. The draft policy, which covers the timeframe between 2022 and 2030, is currently open for public consultation. This master plan comes as an antidote to “help re-establish communication by air to and from the island.”  

Runway in Gozo

The policy also gives the greenlight to create a runway in Gozo which will not take up agricultural land. The master plan seeks to synthesise the airport zone in Malta, the Freeport, and the forthcoming Gozo runway, as a precursor for the anticipated air-sea cargo hub. Alongside this policy is the possibility of developing the drone sector, which may perhaps act as a foreshadow for the possible uptake of the drone sector as part of the proposed air-sea cargo. The commercialisation of drones for transportation is not new. The policy may indeed expand in the future to include other policy considerations such as Data Protection and Privacy, as has been seen already with the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (‘EASA’) publication of such related guidelines.  

Data Protection for Drone Pilots

EASA has released two Commission Delegated Regulations so far with one bearing number 2019/947 delving into details of Data Protection and Privacy compliancy for drone pilots and operators. Materials produced in furtherance of EASA’s project for instance include a Privacy by Design (‘PbD’) guide, as well as a pre-flight checklist and privacy code of conduct for drone pilots. Increasing Data Protection and Privacy awareness, however, is not only a personal-rights matter, it is also a financial-penalty matter, considering the hefty fines which may be imposed; the maximum being up to Eur 20 million or 4% global turnover, whichever is higher.  

All in all, this draft National Civil Aviation Policy is an important first step in further modernising Malta’s civil aviation sector whilst creating new investment opportunities in innovative fields.  


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