Drones and Insurance – New possibilities
There are so many technological innovations that, at times, we have the false impression that Drones were recently invented by some robotics genius. But no, they have been around for at least 20 years. Born out of military experiments in the United States and Israel, they were, for a long time, limited by belligerent actions and utilities.
Recently, the world realized the commercial utility of these vehicles, when in 2013, retail giant Amazon1 made public its intention to deliver drones to consumers. This, shortly after the release of the video of the aerial delivery of a pizza, made by another well-known American company, Domino’s2, with its DomiCopter, but this on English soil, given the restrictions of air traffic control in South America. North, especially after the fateful September 11, 2001.
Since then, we have seen infinite possibilities for using these flying machines: filming, photographs, parcel deliveries, agricultural activities, military employment, 3D image mapping, meteorological monitoring, search missions, government missions, civil defense, air defense, uses such as industrial robots, border patrols, fire fighting, crime fighting, oil rig inspection, environmental inspections, drug distribution in hostile environments, among other uses that already exist or are yet to come.
Technically, in Brazil “drones” are defined by the acronym VANT (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) which, according to ANAC (National Civil Aviation Agency), is the genre of which RPA (Remotely Piloted Aircraft) is species. The RPA was recently studied by DECEA (Airspace Control Department), as can be seen from the document “ICA 100-40 / 2015”, published on November 19, 20153, the basis of this simple note.
In this regulation, the condition of the aircraft was attributed to the RPA whenever the device is serving for non-recreational purposes. This is because, the UAV can be compared to aeromodelling, in the cases in which it is used as a sports practice, leisure, hobby or amusement, thus submitting to the rules of Ordinance DAC nº 207 / STE.
The Brazilian regulation of DECEA (ICA 100-40 / 2015) aimed only at aircraft that, although unmanned, have a remote control system, that is, are not included in this regulation and are prohibited from flying in the country, fully autonomous aircraft, programmed with a specific purpose and without control on the ground by remote means.
RPA flights for non-recreational purposes must be authorized by ANAC and DECEA, whether on an experimental or for-profit basis, respecting the duties of each body for certification, registration, registration, license and take-off authorization, aiming mainly at safety and exposure of everyone and everything around, taking into account that this aircraft can be used for:
– Monitoring of gas lines and transmission lines;
– Asset monitoring;
– Traffic monitoring;
– Assessment of natural disasters;
– Systems development platform;
– Public security;
– Aerial support for search and rescue;
– Telecommunications repeater;
– Maritime, aerial and land surveillance;
– Intelligence tool; and
– Command and Control Tool (C2).
The regulatory measures of ANAC, to be published, and those of DECEA (ICA100-40 / 2015) aim at the prevention and security of space and national air traffic. And, from this perspective, it is essential to contract insurance for the risks inherent to aircraft, including RPA, which would mitigate the effects of damage to properties and third parties.
In this context, it is worth noting that the American government estimates that there is seven times more chances of an accident with RPA than in ordinary aviation and 353 times more chances than in commercial aviation, considering that North America has the highest air traffic of the world.
For this reason, ignoring the possibility of accidents is not the most appropriate way. There are many reasons for that, just look at some examples around the world: the crash of a drone that flew over the buildings in Manhattan4; the injury of a triathlete in Australia, after the pilot lost his control5; the (almost) collision of a drone with a New York police helicopter6, as well as inconsequential acts, such as the invasion of the White House land by a drone piloted by someone who would have consumed alcohol7 and the interference of the firefighters’ work in the fire fighting in California8; the robbery of a jewelry store in Taiwan by thieves who used a drone to do so9.
In Brazil, recently a drone crashed on the public who was watching the technical rehearsal of a samba school in Rio de Janeiro, fortunately no one was hurt10.
In São Paulo, a gang was arrested11 for home theft, the difference was the use of a drone that flew over the houses and determined the target of the miscreants.
In view of this scenario, the responsibility of the operators / operators of these new aerial vehicles is evident, being subject, therefore, to the laws in force that prevent abuses of individual rights, such as privacy and image, in the civil sphere, as well as criminal offenses such as exposure of life or health of someone. Although all non-recreational flights with drones are subject to authorization on a case-by-case basis, hypothetically, it is possible to suggest that, once equated to aircraft, RPA, depending on its category and mode of use, should be within the aeronautical industry, offering an adequate guarantee to the hull and the civil liability of the equipment owner. Without forgetting, however, the possibility of coverage for the hypotheses of exploitation of the activity of air cargo transporter and the responsibility of the hangars, in the case of larger RPA, which include the custody of these vehicles in the custody of third parties.
It is worth remembering that products will certainly need exclusive conditions or textual adaptations, such as, for example, mandatory insurance, known as R.E.T.A. (Responsibility of the Explorer and Aeronautical Carrier), so that the RPA is classified as a new category of aircraft for the purpose of calculating compensation.
In the field of aeronautical civil liability, it is possible to foresee many discussions about this, such as the manufacturer’s duty to compensate for the design of the apparatus in the event of falls or the pilot’s fault for the collision between the RPA and commercial aircraft and, reflexively, the responsibility of air traffic controllers when authorizing aircraft to take off.
Of all this, the certainty is that many innovations are on the way, but none will escape the good old, safe known. It is necessary to be ready for a new market that deserves close monitoring, after all, it is estimated that there are approximately 100 thousand drones in Brazil for non-recreational use, a market with great potential for insurance activity