The government is introducing New Drone Laws including height limits for drones in an effort to regulate the growing sector more effectively.
New Drone Laws introduced today that come into effect on 30thJuly will restrict all drones from flying above 400 feet and within one kilometre of airport boundaries. through an amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016, the Department for Transport said today.
The rules will also require owners of drones weighing 250g or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and for drone pilots to take an online safety test, with these rules coming into force on 30 November 2019.
Aim to Use Drones Safely and Responsibly
The new drone laws have been made by the DfT to protect manned aircraft, although it’s not clear to what extent the proposals have been driven by science rather than the ‘near misses’ that have been reported in the media.
Baroness Sugg, aviation minister, said:
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.
These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.
The government said it wants to allow the potential of drones to be reached, while keeping safety high too. Drones already help inspect national infrastructure like railways and power stations, and PwC has predicted the industry could be worth £42bn in the UK by 2030.
The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to the restrictions announced by the government in “specific circumstances” though.
Chris Woodroofe, chief operating officer, Gatwick Airport, said:
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.
Today’s announcement from the DfT dates back to a summary paper of a study released last year about drone safety which we commented on. The British government-funded study received plenty of criticism for its methodology and dubious testing of drone colliding with aircraft.
Calls for the disclosure of the full research methods came from the Drone Manufacturer’s Alliance Europe (DMAE), made up of industry giants DJI, GoPro, 3DR, and Parrot.
DJI’s Response to the New Drone Laws
Leading drone manufacturer DJI has welcomed the DfT’s new measures. Christian Struwe, head of Public Policy Europe at the company, believes that they strike the right balance between safety, accountability, and public confidence.
“The Department for Transport’s updates to the regulatory framework strike a sensible balance between protecting public safety and bringing the benefits of drone technology to British businesses and the public at large,” he said.
“The vast majority of drone pilots fly safely and responsibly, and governments, aviation authorities, and drone manufacturers agree we need to work together to ensure all drone pilots know basic safety rules. We are therefore particularly pleased about the Department for Transport’s commitment to accessible online testing as a way of helping drone users to comply with the law.”
Roy Horton writes about Drone News for Drone Photography Services