The UK Government has announced new drone laws are soon to be introduced requiring people to register their drones in an attempt to promote air safety.
These new laws are significant changes to current drone legislation. There will be mandatory registration for those who own an unmanned aircraft weighing over 250 grams. Drone owners will also be required to pass a safety awareness course. Demonstrating they understand the regulations concerning safety, privacy and security is considered vital. Children might be banned from flying as well, as the Department for Transport announced they are considering an age limit.
Aviation Minister Lord Martin Callanan commented that these measures are to prioritise protecting the public, whilst simultaneously maximising drones’ full potential. They are vital for rescue operations, transport infrastructure, but can be misused too. University of Kent law professor Alan McKenna said such regulations will be no “magic solution” and suggested making personal liability insurance compulsory.
There is currently no timeframe in place for when the new regulations will come into force.
This announcement comes after a Department of Transport consultation published at the end of 2016. It concluded that the safe use of drones, security and privacy were all major concerns of the public. There was also concern reflected in a 2017 Mid-Air Collision study by the Department, the Military Aviation Authority and the British Airline Pilots’ Association which found that drones weighing over 400 grams could damage the windscreens of helicopters.
The UK Government also announced intentions of expanding ‘geo-fencing’. This is a unique type of technology that creates no-fly areas around “sensitive” areas like airports and jails.
Drone manufacturer DJI supports the government’s initiatives. They commented; “Drones are making dangerous jobs safer and have helped save at least 59 lives around the world”. It is “important for governments to ensure the safety benefits of drones are available to all.”
It will be interesting to see exactly what the UK Government comes up with for the new drone laws. Similar regulations in the United States were struck down earlier this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for violating aviation legislation.