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Consultation on the safe use and effective regulation of drones

Last updated on

July 27, 2018


    The government has today announced they are set to have a consultation on proposed new measures to provide regulation of drones. The ability to provide on-the-spot fines and being able to seize the drone are being discussed in parliament.

    With the market set to grow at a rapid rate over the next decade, it’s imperative the ensure that the right measures are in place. According to a PwC report, the drone industry will be worth around £42 billion to the UK by 2030. These new preventative measures are being put in place to create a blueprint for a safe and secure use of drones in the present, whilst also preparing for the future.

    These new measures are part of a wider programme of new drone legislation. They are set to shape the contents of a draft Drone Bill that is due to be published later this year (2018).

    The proposed measures include:

    • Police issuing fixed penalty notices to those disregarding later this year.
    • Using new counter-drone technology to protect public events and critical national infrastructure and stop contraband from reach prisons.
    • Introducing minimum age restrictions for drone owners in addition to the new tests they will need to take.
    • Proposals for regulating and mandating the use of ‘apps’ on which pilots would file flight plans ahead of take-off.

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    Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister said:

    “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 to prevent them hindering the potential of this technology. 

    That’s why we’ve already introduced safety measures like a height limit and rules around airports. Today we are consulting how we can go further, including extra police powers and a minimum age requirement.”

    Drones are already being used for a wide range of applications from inspecting infrastructure, to security at events. The industry has the potential to grow exponentially, so it’s vital to create and encourage a safe environment.

    Police and security personnel already have powers to address the misuse of drones. These new proposals will simply reinforce those powers, and create a tailored toolkit to ensure they are observed. As drones become more frequent, these rules will ensure that drones are flown safely to protect the public.

    As of Monday 30th, July 2018 updates to the Air Navigation Order also come into force. These updates will implement new height and airport boundary restrictions, and a breach could see penalty fines of up to £2,500. Reckless actions that could endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft also carries a penalty of up to 5 years imprisonment, so it’s incredibly important to ensure you don’t get caught out by these new measures.

    Air Navigation Order 2018

    Drones form part of the government’s future of mobility grand challenge and are currently being used for a broad range of purposes across different industry sectors including:

    • Costain use drones for inspections at Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station, saving 50% of costs compared to the use of helicopters or human inspection teams.
    • The inspection of a wind turbine typically costs over £1000 per tower – performing the same inspection using a drone cuts the cost by around 50%.
    • Network Rail is using drones to improve track maintenance and boost track field worker efficiency, whilst reducing the amount of work at height required on Network Rail’s assets.
    • Research by Deutsche Bank showed that drones cost less than £0.04 per mile to deliver a parcel the size of a shoe box, compared to the delivery costs of up to £5 for premium ground services.
    • Television shows such as Planet Earth II use drones to film wildlife hundreds of feet up in the air.
    • AWTG use the Matrice 210 to increase the speed and efficiency of their search and rescue operations.

    Steve Coulson, Managing Director or COPTRZ commented:

    “If we didn’t know it already, drones are going to play a massive part of the UK’s future. With that in mind, it’s imperative that we ensure that drones are used safely and in the correct manner. 

    It’s great to see these laws have been put in place to protect other air traffic users. Drones could be seriously damaging to planes and their passengers and ultimately cost lives. These amendments will begin the prevention process, something which is not only important for safety but also for the future of drone use, creating a positive impression of the drone industry.”

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