The British Government has announced new laws to restrict all drones from flying above 400 feet and within 1 kilometre of airport boundaries.
The Government says the measures, which will form am amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016, will reduce the possibility of damage to windows and engines of aircraft when they come into effect on July 30, 2018.
The new rules will also require owners of drones weighing 250 grams 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 November 30, 2019.
The Government acknowledges that drones have the potential to bring great benefits to the UK, as they already help inspect national infrastructure like the country’s railways and power stations; and are even aiding disaster relief speeding up the delivery of blood. The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to these restrictions in specific circumstances.
Chris Woodroofe, Chief Operating Officer, Gatwick Airport, commented: “We welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides as it leaves no doubt that anyone flying a drone must stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.
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.”
The Government said that 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.