The UK government is rolling out a number of new laws – including height limits – to make sure that drones are being used safely as the sector continues to grow.
Drones operators will be restricted from flying their drones above 400 feet and within one kilometre of airport boundaries as of 30 July.
The new measures, follow a year-on-year increase in the report of drone incidents with aircraft (93 in 2017), will reduce the possibility of damage to windows and engines of planes and helicopters.
The new laws will also require owners of drones weighing 250 grams or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and to take an online safety test. These requirements will come into force on 30 November 2019.
“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,” said aviation minister Baroness Sugg.
“These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.”
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The government said drone operators who flout the new height and airport boundary restrictions could be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft. This could result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
Meanwhile, users who fail to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000.
The announcement of the new laws was welcomed by Gatwick Airport’s chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe, who stressed that drones must be used responsibility.
“These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public,” he said.
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.
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