Drone flying is highly regulated in the UK and there are laws and guidelines in place. New ledgislation is due to take effect in 2019. Some drone laws have been in place since 2017, these amended the existing air navigation order of 2016.
UAV operators in the UK are banned from exceeding 400 feet at and from using a drone within a radius of 1 kilometre of an airport. Contravention of this law can mean unlimited fines and up to five years in prison.
Department of Transport Regulations
Moreover, in 2018 the Department of Transport implemented new rules whereby if drones run to over 250 grams in weight, drone pilots are required to register their drones with the CAA and pass a series of exams and practical tests in order to operate safely and legally. This sis known as the PfCO, Permission for Commercial Operations. Those who fail to register and pass the exams may be fined up to £1000 for commercially using drones. The new laws form part of the governments new industrial strategy and aims to plan for the expansion of drone use throughout the UK. Some exemptions for some UK airports may be deemed necessary and further information on this is still to be confirmed. The new drone bill features several new laws which are due to come into effect, but have not yet been announced.
To minimise the impact on model aircraft associations the government has pointed to examples of the positive use of drones for example to inspect Hinckley point nuclear power station, hospitals and public buildings. In other examples drones have also been used to reduce costs of wind turbine inspections by 50%. So, the potential for drone use within industry and business is only starting to be realised. It is estimated by PwC that uptake in the use of drones could add over £1 billion to the UK economy in the next 15 years. So drone regulation is important and is forcing the industry to become much more professional.
Increased safety in drone use
Department of Transport expect the new rules to increase safety when protecting the public whilst also ensuring the increased benefits of drones within industry. Regulations now cover remote operators of drones as well as pilot in charge, or SUA operator. Existing regulations require commercial drone pilots to update their operations manual with appropriate information. Any applications or renewals which are not updated will be cancelled.
International Drone Regulation
Regulations bring the UK in line with other international laws for drones and focus directly on reduction of unsafe operation, public safety and protection. As well as recognising the positive impact of drone use with industry and commerce. What is important is that if you’re planning a drone survey it’s vital that your drone pilot is registered and competent in the use of drones. You should check that they have the appropriate training and certification (PfCO) to ensure that you are working with a professional drone operator, otherwise you may find yourself falling foul of the law which inevitably will impact your business negatively. For more information on drone regulations contact us today.
Recent Drone Issues
As of today 23rdDecember 2018, we have been bombarded with the recent news of illegal drone activity over the UK’s Gatwick airport. As this stage we are not sure who has operated the drones within the restricted airspace, but it has highlighted the massive security and safety issues associated with drone operations and how we can all keep this industry safe and regulated. Over the next few months we will see how the government reacts to this story, who is behind it and the legislations that will ensue, as we’re sure that something will happen to try and stop this debacle happening again. So in the meantime, watch the skies, drone safe and best for 2019!