Monday, 21 August, 2017

Britain to require drone registration, safety tests

UK to bring in drone registration Pilots association calls for “swift government action” on drone threat
Garry Little | 25 July, 2017, 11:48

The government of the United Kingdom said on Saturday all drones larger than 250 grams will need to be registered with the Department of Transport following a report by aviation authorities drones as small as 400 grams could damage helicopter windshields.

The new rules, which are expected to improve accountability and encourage owners to act responsibly, will require drone owners to get their gadgets registered and "prove that they understand United Kingdom safety, security and privacy regulations".

"Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones".

Aviation minister Lord Callanan claimed the new rules will strike a balance between taking advantage of the benefits of drones while minimising their misuse. As part of the tighter regulations, the government plans to expand the use of geo-fencing, a programming technique that stops drones entering restricted zones such as prisons and airports.

This news comes after a report by aviation authorities detailing drones as small as 400 grams can damage helicopter windshields.

A year ago the United Kingdom government and the Civil Aviation Authority put out a drone code offering steerage to drone owners on how to make safe use of their devices while regulations continued to be developed.

Figures obtained by the Press Association show forces recorded 3,456 episodes a year ago, nearly triple the 2015 figure of 1,237 and more than 12 times the 2014 tally of 283. The consultation recommended the newly introduced measures, as well as bringing forward work to create a source of United Kingdom airspace data for geo-fencing, and exploring further measures such as creating new offences and increasing penalties.

Pilots have been calling for a clampdown after a series of near-collisions between drones and passenger jets, particularly on approach or take-off from major airports, including Heathrow.

Earlier this year, Canada announced new drone restrictions as part of the Aeronautical Act, stipulating that recreational drone operators must mark their devices with contact information, and can not fly them at night or in cloudy conditions.

The measures will tighten controls over the gadgets, which can now be bought freely on the high street. "We will continue to promote these and other initiatives to help drone users fly drones safely".

And while the DfT notes that some drone manufacturers have already programmed their drones not to fly in "sensitive areas" it says the government "would like to reinforce this work".

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