Some seventy-one years ago, it was found that drones could play a role within our society. While the military was quick to realize this and develop the technology, it is only recently that the civilian application is being explored en masse. That said, given this prediction and the military direction, legislators find themselves now unprepared for the civilian use and market potential. However, this is not an unprecedented situation; the civil aviation (manned) market has often shown an inability to work together, be prepared, and cooperate. As a consequence, there has been fragmentation and, arguably, casualties associated with such lethargy.

This article discusses the aspects of risk, governance, liability (predominately covering safety and security), and the need for a suitable framework relating to drone usage (particularly viewed from the perspective of third parties). This article identifies the challenges, while the research focuses on the direction of the European Union (EU) and the lessons learned from the unity and development within the manned civil aviation framework. It is argued that, going forward, there is a need not just to adapt existing aviation systems and mechanisms, and to apply best practices, but to learn from past failures and the successes of other modes and systems.