Commercial and recreational drone use in the UK

11th November 2019

Drone flying

This is a report published by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in October 2019. The government has been busy to the many aspects of drones and finally is taking some positive measures.

The report focuses on current regulations, primarily under the Civil Aviation Act 1982 and the Air Navigation Order 2016, as amended in 2018 (Order 2019 No.261).

It is now for most, common knowledge that Flight Restriction Zones (FRZ) exist around airports and is now 5Km, increased from 1Km.  It was a concern for Air Traffic Control operators that by increasing the disctance it would capture more drone pilots flying their drones and calling the ATC asking for permission to fly, thereby increasing the workload of those ATC operators. It is clear that there is an inconsistent approach by ATC’s in how they deal with drone operators and some taking an inordinate amount of time to approve such a request.  Some ATC’s are levying charges for permission!

The report refers to forthcoming regulation and names the Drones Bill, which passage on to the statute books has been halted due to Brexit and a General Election. However, there will be new legislation that was mentioned in the recent Queen’s Speech, namely the Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill.  The new bill does include to an extent what the original drones bill was going to include:

  1. Drone registration;
  2. Remote pilot competency;
  3. Personal details of drone operators.

The consensus around registration is that law abiding professional drone operators will at some poiint engage in registration, however those wishing to act illegally shall not, a point which was acknowledged by the CAA. The report recommends that those operators that avoid registration should be subject to a sliding scale of penalties for failure to register, starting with a warning, and culminating in a fine and a prison sentence.  You have been warned!