The drones are coming – but their use will now be regulated, as the government announced this morning that devices must now be registered and users will have to sit safety awareness tests.
After running a consultation from December to March, the government today published a response outlining plans to make owners of drones weighing 250g and more register details of their device.
Unlocking the UK’s High Tech Economy: Consultation on the SafeUse of Drones in the UK Government Response Department of Transport
“The UK is at the forefront of an exciting and fast growing drones market and it is important we make the most of this emerging global sector,” said aviation minister Lord Callanan.
Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives. They are also used extensively for aerial photography, filming and surveys.
But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.
The government also said it plans to bring forward and expand the use of “geo-fencing”, a technology which acts as an invisible force field around buildings or sensitive areas such as prisons, nuclear plants or airports.
This works by programming drones to hover at the edge of certain zones. Some manufacturers already have this feature locked in, but the government aims to reinforce its practice.
The consultation summary also added that “options to increase penalties when the law is broken” were being explored.
In the consultation, bodies such as the Department for Transport, the British Airline Pilots Association and the Military Aviation Authority revealed evidence that drones weighing 400g could damage the windscreens of helicopters in particular. A particular concern for drones being operated in the English Lake District in Cumbria, where the RAF regularly fly in LFA17 (military designated fly zone).
Airliner windscreens were found to be much more resistant, as it would take a drone of around 2kg to cause critical damage and only if the aeroplane was flying at high speed.
The outcome of the consultation is welcomed by Hovershotz Aerial Drone Photography Video & Inspections Cumbria, as we already follow strict processes laid down by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) to comply with our permission for commercial Operation (PFCO) and we have become frustrated with the antics of cowboy drone operators.
|Last year, the Civil Aviation Authority launched a new “drone code” with six principles:|
|Always keep your drone in sight|
|Stay below 400ft (120m) to comply with the drone code|
|Every time you fly your drone you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions|
|Keep the right distance from people and property|
|You are responsible for each flight|
|Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields|