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New UK Drone Law to be published in 2018

Drone safety measures increase after a spate of dangerous incidents

A new law that applies to drones is to be published in spring 2018. The new bill will allow police
officers to order drone users to land their device when necessary and it will be mandatory for drone
owners to register their drone if the aircraft weighs 250g or more. Drones in this weight range will
most likely also be banned from flying near airports or above 400 feet, in an attempt to control
unsafe flying. Moreover, it is also expected that drone users will have to use apps instead of simple
remote controls, to make sure that the rules are always easily available and included in the flight
Points of expected legislation are:
 Drone users will have to complete safety awareness tests.
 Owners of drones that weigh 250g or more will have to be registered.
 The government is working closely with drone manufacturers in order to use geo-fencing to
keep drones out of restricted zones

The past actions of some drone users have led to a bad perception of drone technology. These actions include incidents with drones at London Gatwick and Heathrow airport, in
which drones near-missed aeroplanes, often only by a few inches, putting hundreds of lives in danger.

Drones have also been used for illegal flights over sport events and drug and mobile phone deliveries into prisons.

“Rules regarding drones do already exist under the Civil Aviation Authority Drone Code but they are not effectively enforced, which allows criminal actions to occur.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council leader for the criminal misuse of drones, Assistant Chief Constable Serena Kennedy, stated: “Police forces are aware of the ever increasing use of drones by members of the public and we are working with all relevant partners to understand the threats that this new technology can pose when used irresponsibly or illegally. Do not take this lightly – if you use a drone to invade people’s privacy or engage in disruptive behaviour, you could face serious criminal charges.”

Rules regarding drones do already exist under the Civil Aviation Authority Drone Code but they are not effectively enforced, which allows criminal actions to occur. The new law is supposed to help
prevent criminal behaviour and improve the power of the police. This would make it easier to tackle
violations of the rules.

The new planned bill faces some backlash since manufacturers argue that the upper-weight
limit of 250g is too low and based on 48-year-old assumptions. Therefore, they suggest the weight limit should be raised to 2.2 kilogram, especially since most widely used drones, with the exception of some toy models, are over the 250g mark. However, it was stated that this weight limit was chosen because these drones weigh so little that they are not likely to harm people or property in the case of failure.

There is also a concern that the law will be difficult to enforce, for example, the height restriction. Christian Struwe, head of European public policy at drone maker DJI assured BBC breakfast though that they will be able to limit the flight altitude in the industry. It is also believed that apart from that, safety awareness is generally important and will make drone pilots more aware of their aircraft.

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