The government has consulted about the Future of Drones in 2018 with many interested industry parties and received over 5,000 responses.
The remit of the consultation was to set out the next steps needed to ensure safety, security and accountability of the drone industry, whilst harnessing the benefits that drones used in a safe way, can bring to the UK economy.
In summary the new laws banned all drones from flying above 400ft across the UK, and within 1km of protected airport boundaries.
Also from 30th November 2019, it will be a legal requirement for all drone operators to register and drone pilots to complete an online pilot competency test.
The results of the consultation were due to be published in the first part of 2019, but after the Gatwick incident, the document was rushed to press and was issued on 7 January 2019.
Called “Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK” in the document the Ministeral Forward of Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg included three lines:
“But the recent disruption to Gatwick airport operations, affecting tens of thousands of passengers in the run up to Christmas, was a stark example of why continued action is required to make sure drones are used safely and securely in the UK.”
The government came under heavy criticism for their handling of the Gatwick incident, and in our opinion issued the consultation early to try to show that they were in control of the situation.
So now “Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK” is published, here are some of the key recommendations which could become law in the next few months, for drones weighing over 250 grams.
The Future of Drones Near Airports
The current 1km restriction will be increased to 5km. The new restriction zone will include rectangular extensions from the end of runways measuring 5km long by 1km wide to better protect take-off and landing paths. In addition, all drones will be required to ask permission from the airport’s Air Traffic Control to fly within the ATZ. Here is a diagram of overall restriction zone.
We welcome this extension of the airport restriction zone.
Minimum Age Requirements
In the current legislation covered by Air Navigation Order 2016 roles are defined for the Operator and remote Pilot. They are:
Operator– person or organisation who has management of the small drone but may not be directly controlling the flight.
Remote pilot– person who operates the flight of the small drone by manual use of the controls, or when the small drone is flying automatically, monitors its course and is able to intervene and change its course by adjusting its flight controls.
The Government proposed that the age of 18 be set as the minimum age at which a person may register as an operator.
With the minimum age restriction of 18 for the operator role, those under that age would still be able to fly a drone as a remote pilot.
Here is the exact Government wording:
“Drones are flown by a wide range of people, including minors. Age is not necessarily an indicator of competence and the Government does not want to restrict minors from piloting drones, particularly as early use of technology can build vital skills for later life, as well as introducing young people to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The Government proposed an age restriction for the operator role to reflect the additional legal responsibilities. The Government did not propose an age restriction for remote pilots, meaning people of any age would be permitted to fly a drone and access the benefits this affords them.”
From 30 November 2019 the drone will have to be registered with the registration number fixed to the drone and the operator must have a valid certificate of registration.
From 30 November 2019 both the operator and remote pilot will have to both have passed an online test and have what the government calls a “Certificate of Competence.”
We will be examining other proposals in this draft drone bill, especially possible extra police powers in separate article.
If you want to read the full document “Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK” please click here.