In July 2018 new drone laws were introduced by the government, creating a No Fly Zones within a kilometre of airports and restricting drone to maximum altitude of 400 feet. Also they announced that from 30 November 2019, that all owners of drones that weigh at least 250g will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and take an online safety test. Learn more from our Aug 2018 news post.
Following on from this, the government have now announced new drone legislation from 13 March to extending the No Fly Zones around airports, banning drones from flying within 5km of runway end.
The aim of the enlarged airport No Fly Zones is to better protect the UK’s airports from those misusing drones, not to restrict genuine aerial photography businesses
New Drones Bill
Work is also in progress to create a new Drones Bill, which will be announced in due course. This will enable police officers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within 5km of an airport.
It will also give additional new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft – including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.
The Home Office is also reviewing the UK’s approach to counter the malicious use of drones and will consider how best to protect the full range of the UK’s critical national infrastructure – including testing and evaluating technology to counter drones.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling said:
“The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the No Fly Zones to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.
We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place. Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid comments:
“Extending stop and search to include drones will help police tackle disruption like the recent misery we saw at UK airports, when travel was ruined for thousands of innocent passengers, and bring those responsible to justice.
Police are clear that stop and search is one of the most powerful tools they have to target and disrupt crime and I remain committed to giving them all the support they need to protect the public.”
Can Drone Legally Fly Near Airports
It will be possible to fly near an airport with permission from Air Traffic Control.
The CAA’s Drone Code provides advice on how to fly your drone safely and follow the rules at all times.
How this permission from ATC is obtained will vary depending on the model of drone and the circumstances that apply at the time of the intended flight.
DJI the largest manufacturer of recreational drones have now updated their GEO fenced areas and you will only be able unlock certain areas if you have prior written permission and are a CAA approved pilot.
Proof and documents like an email from the ATC will need to be sent to DJI with a request to unlock your drone or drones in the No Fly Zones for a specific area for a limited time.
DJIs have also announced an ‘Altitude Zone’ where for 3.6 km on the end of the runways the maximum altitude is limited to 60m in addition to the No Fly Zones. Here you can look at the new DJI GEO zones and how they will affect those of us who use drones for photography.
Other drone manufacturers like Parrot and Yuneec do not have any Geo fencing.
Where Are the New Airport No Fly Zones
If you fly DJI drones you may be more restricted once the legislation comes in on 13 March 2019 than you first thought, because the No Fly Zones areas are based on the runway pattern submitted to DJI.
Here is how the new no-fly zones will affect aerial photography in Cornwall.
Here is a standard NFZ at Newquay airport.
Here is an excessive NFZ at Lands End airport and RNAS Culdrose.