With the cost of drones decreasing and the advancement of technology, the civilian uptake of drones has taken off. In 2017, there were 89 accidents involving aircraft and drones in the UK, a 25% increase on the previous year. The number of active commercial drone licences in the UK increased from 2,500 to 3,800 in 2017.
As a direct result, new legislation that was recently introduced to the Commons could see drone users having to pass online safety tests and strictly adhere to new flight restrictions. Users that decide to flout these new regulations could face weighty unlimited fines and prison sentences for their actions.
Drones Must Stay Away From Airports
The new rules will see the restrictions regarding drone flights near airports explicitly defined – No drones will be permitted to fly within one kilometre of any airport, no excuses. Chris Woodroofe, Chief Operating officer at Gatwick Airport, said the changes will eliminate any doubt that drones must be kept “well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.”
Flight height restrictions will also become enshrined in law, drone operators who exceed the limit could face unlimited fines and up to five years in prison. UAVs weighing 250g or more must be registered with the CAA. Previously, the new regulation only applied to drones weighing 20kg kilograms or less. But now, drone owners who fail to do so run the risk of fines up to £1000.
It is worth noting that drones with built-in cameras tend to weigh more than cheaper UAVs but this is not a loop-hole. The 250g weight limit will include the weight of any camera added. So even if the drone itself is under the weight, the added weight of the camera counts too. It is the drone user’s responsibility to know the weight of their drone and to ensure they are not breaking the law.
– Drones are not permitted to fly within one kilometre of any airport
– Anyone owning a drone weighing over 250g or more must register it with the Civil Aviation Authority
– All drones will be banned from flying above 200ft (121.9m)
Even if the new legislation comes into play it is unlikely to stem or halt the drone economic boom. According to a recent report by PwC, drones could potentially add £42 billion to the UK economy by 2030. It also predicted that the drone industry