New Drone LawsHere are the new laws, regulations and general changes that have been suggested:
- Drones over 250 grams will have to be formally registered. This would include the smallest DJI drone, the Spark, which has a takeoff weight of 300 grams.
- Drone pilots will have to sit a safety awareness test before they’re allowed to fly. This is currently implemented in a lot of countries where the drone is grounded until the pilot successfully passes a test to unlock it. We’re currently unaware of the suggested test process, whether it will be online or through an NQE, however, the announcement stated the government are currently developing ‘technical systems and educational materials’.
- The police will have powers to ground drones if suspected of a criminal activity or unsafe flying. They will then be able to seize drone parts for evidence. It’s expected this will include the drone itself and memory cards.
- Drone pilots will have to be able to present their registration documents if requested by the police.
- Drone pilots will have to use apps to ensure their planned flights are safe and legal. The apps will also be able to make drone flight visible to other airspace users for increased safety. Areas of higher sensitivity will be easier for pilots to view and highlighted within the apps. This will include sites such as schools and military bases.
- Drones may be completely banned from flying near airports or over 400ft. These are already part of the Drone Code however, may be included in the Air Navigation Order.
- Geofencing will be developed through a government, CAA and NATS (National Air Traffic Service provider) collaboration. This will help pilots comply with the changes that have been implemented.
Along with the suggested changes, there was a clear focus on the government’s commitment to developing drone technologies in the UK for businesses and public services. The Flying High Challenge was mentioned, a government-funded project between Nesta and Innovate UK, where up to five cities will be supported in drone technology research and development. This includes the development of drones in areas such as in health services, delivery and infrastructure assessments.
SummaryIt’s fair to say it’s an extremely exciting time for drone pilots, both commercial and hobbyist. For commercial pilots, the focus on the development of drones provides further opportunities for expansion of drone businesses. For a hobbyist, it may take slightly longer for pilots to get out flying, but it ensures pilot competency and increased safety for both drone users and the general public. The added transparency means as long as you’re flying within the law, you shouldn't encounter any problems. The focus is on preventing criminal activity and unsafe flight in order to develop the use of drones. Make sure you know the current rules and regulations by reading our previous Insider post here. Heliguy will keep you up to date with any developments on the UK drone regulations and any other drone news.
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