The UK government has introduced a series of new regulations governing drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to enter into force next month.
The role of drones is growing, with recent estimates suggesting the UK UAV industry could be worth £42m (~€47.5m) by 2030. Alongside this growth, new regulations governing drones and UAVs will allow them to take on a wider role in many sectors of society.
The growth of UAVs in recent years has also brought a year-on-year increase in the number of incidents involving drones colliding with aircraft, with as many as 93 separate incidents occurring last year. Collisions with UAVs can cause damage to windows and engines of planes and helicopters, so the new restrictions aim to improve safety and prevent accidents.
What do the new regulations include?
The UK’s measures will require the owners of drones weighing more than 250 grams to register their devices with the country’s Civil Aviation Authority, and all drone pilots will be required to take an online safety test, similar to a driving test, to ensure they fly responsibly.
Alongside these new measures, which will enter into force on 30 November 2019, additional new regulations governing drones will apply from 30 July 2018. These will include restrictions on drones flying above 400 feet, and within 1km of any airport’s boundaries.
What impact will this have?
Chris Woodroofe, chief operating officer at London’s Gatwick Airport, welcomed the clarity that the new regulations would provide about the dangers posed by collisions between drones and aircraft, and their ability to ensure the safe use of UAVs.
He said: “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.”
Liz Sugg, Aviation Minister, added: “We are seeing fast growth in the numbers of drones being used, both commercially and for fun. 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.”