Major changes to UK drone laws have been announced by the Department for Transport (DT),
From 30 July, you cannot fly a drone above 400 feet or within a kilometre of airport boundaries. Anyone who breaks the rules could be charged with “recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft”, and face a fine of up to £2500 or up to five years in prison.
Drone Consultation for UK Drone Laws
On July 26, in addition to the new UK Drone Laws the government launched a consultation with a selection of proposals that “will reinforce the importance of complying with drone safety rules”. These include:
- Whether the 1km flight restriction around protected aerodromes is sufficient
- Police issuing fixed penalty notices to people flouting drone laws
- Using new counter-drone technology to protect public events and critical national infrastructure, and prevent contraband from reaching prisons
- Proposals for regulating and mandating the use of apps on which drone users would file flight plans ahead of take-off
- Introducing minimum age restrictions for drone owners
This consultation ends on 17 September 2018.
In addition from 30 November 2019, all owners drones that weigh at least 250g will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and take an online safety test. Anyone who fails to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000.
The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to these restrictions in “specific circumstances”, to the new uk drone laws the DfT says.
“Drones present exciting benefits to our society and our economy, but with a small group of people choosing to use them for harm there are challenges we must overcome if we are to prevent them hindering the potential of this technology,” said Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg.
“That’s why we’ve already introduced safety measures like a height limit, and rules around airports, and … we are consulting on how we go further, including extra police powers and a minimum age requirement.”
According to the DfT, which says a draft Drones Bill will be published later this year, there has been a year-on-year increase in drone incidents with aircraft, with 71 recorded in 2016 and 89 in 2017.
It’s hoped that the new UK drone laws will protect helicopters and planes. The DfT says that drone operators will also eventually have to use apps that ensure they always have access to safety guidance, though it isn’t yet clear how it plans to enforce this rule.
The government is also interested in work on geo-fencing technology. This technology is built into the drones themselves and uses GPS coordinates to stop the devices from entering specific zones, such as prison or airport airspace. This geo-fencing is already enabled on all DJI drones.
Here is the link to the full document – Air Navigation Order 2018
Commercial Drone Operators
As commercial operators you already need permission from the CAA for aerial drone photography if you’re planning to use your drone for “commercial purposes”
According to the DT, the number of active commercial licences for CAA Approved Pilots increased from 2,500 to 3,800 in 2017, a year on year growth of 52%.
With regard to the changes that came in on 30 July and how ops manuals will be affected. CAP 1687 doesn’t change a great deal in your ops manual.
The big change is that the CAA won’t be accepting ops manuals that are not in line with CAP722. Therefore if your ops manual was written over 2 years ago or came from an NQE 2/3 years ago its unlikely to comply with CAP722 and will need to be rewritten when you renew.
See our previous news article on the changes to the U Drone laws click here.