New rules have been introduced today that restrict drones from flying above 400 feet and within 1km of airport boundaries.
Following a year-on-year increase in the report of drone incidents with aircraft – with 89 in 2017 – the measures are designed to reduce the possibility of damage to windows and engines of planes and helicopters.
The laws will come into force on 30 July and will require owners of drones weighing 250g or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and for drone pilots to take an online safety test to ensure the UK’s skies are safe from irresponsible flyers. These requirements will come into force on 30 November 2019.
The changes are part of the future of mobility Grand Challenge, which was laid out in the government’s industrial strategy.
The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to these restrictions in specific circumstances.
Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said that the country is witnessing a fast growth in the numbers of drones being used commercially.
“Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies. These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.”
Meanwhile, Chris Woodroofe, chief operating officer at Gatwick Airport, welcomed today’s announcement.
“Drones open up some exciting possibilities but must be used responsibly. These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public.”
In addition to these measures a draft Drones Bill will be published this summer, which will give police more tailored powers to intervene on the spot if drones are being used inappropriately.
Drone operators will also eventually be required to use apps – so they can access the information needed to make sure any planned flight can be made safely and legally.
For model aircraft flying associations who have a long-standing safety culture, work is underway with the CAA to make sure drone regulations do not impact their activity.