New UK Drone Regulations Announced

New UK Drone Regulations Announced

Heliguy look at the announcement from the UK government on the update to drone regulations and laws in the UK.

3 minute read

This weekend, the UK government announced their plans to release a new Drone Bill in the Spring of 2018. The bill is designed to increase drone safety whilst keeping Britain at the front of drone technology development and expand their use with businesses and infrastructure. The suggested new laws include a drone safety test, registration and powers for the police to ground and seize drones if it’s suspected they’re being used for criminal activity. The announcement came on GOV.uk from the Department for Transport, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Innovate UK, and Baroness Sugg CBE. Keep reading to find out more about the changes below.

New Drone Laws

Here 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.
A draft of the Drone Bill will be released in Spring 2018 and the above may be subject to change before formally released. The draft bill will be subject to a consultation period before it’s finalised. Once finalised, it’s likely there will be changes made to the Air Navigation Order. DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X7
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.

Summary

It’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.
To discuss any of the information above, or any other DJI or Freefly products, please contact a member of the Heliguy Team on 0191 296 1024 or email us at info@heliguy.com.
Keep checking back to Heliguy’s Insider Blog for more announcements, insights into drones and, of course, the latest news from the drone industry.

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