1,000 new drones a month sold in Belgium

Summary

Despite there being no legislation on the use of drones in Belgium, people are buying them up in droves in places as easily accessible as Media Markt

No legal framework

They cost at least €800, and there are very few places they can be legally operated, but Belgians are still buying 1,000 to 2,000 new drones every month, according to market research carried out by Limburg drone importer Skyeye.

The numbers, in fact, “may be under-estimated,” Geert Nijst of Skyeye told De Tijd newspaper. “A large portion of the sales take place online and are difficult to trace.” 

Drones are remote-controlled aerial vehicles, originally developed for military use and now popular in many civilian applications, including photography, remote sensing and cartography.

Belgium does not yet have a legal framework for the use of drones; for the time being, they are covered by a 1954 royal decree intended for model aeroplanes. But the idea that owners can launch drones from their back gardens, said Peter Drieghe of Aerobertics, a specialised trader in Bruges, is a misconception. “The only place you can go with these models is a model aircraft flying zone set aside for the purpose. I’ve already refused to sell a drone to a client who wasn’t ready for it,” he said.

Yet drones are now being sold to anyone who wants one at Media Markt. “We’re seeing a minimum of double-figures growth,” the electronic chain’s Jean Marc Dederen told De Tijd. “We’ve sold drones to estate agents, architects, security companies and even a golf club.” Media Markt was partly responsible for a boom at the end of last year that saw 10,000 drones sold across the country in the fourth quarter. 

De Tijd quoted another seller as saying: “Someone with the federal police told me that he wouldn’t know how to deal with someone using a drone if he came across the situation.” 

De Tijd goes on to report that there could soon be a breakthrough in the creation of a legal framework. Federal mobility minister Jacqueline Galant is expected to announce new rules that would allow drones to fly anywhere at a height of up to 90 metres by licensed professional operators. The issue of others using drones would be looked at later.

Photo courtesy Don McCullough/Wikimedia