New UK Drone Laws Announced - Updated

New UK Drone Laws Announced - Updated

The UK government have just announced new drone laws for the UK. Laws include drone registrations and flight restrictions. Find out more on Heliguy Insider's latest blog post.

4 minute read

[caption id="attachment_12536" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] New UK Drone Laws Announced[/caption] The UK Department for Transport have just announced a set of new drone laws for UK drone pilots. These new rules will cover several areas including the banning of drones exceeding 400 feet, banning drones within 1 kilometre of airports as well as drone registration and online tests for drones above 250 grams. The rules will come into effect in the Summer of 2018 and Winter of 2019. Keep reading to find out more about the new laws and how they will affect your drone use.

UK Drone Laws – The Facts

Following the announcement of expected drone laws at the end of 2017, the UK government have released the details of the new drone laws for the UK. These new laws will be part of an amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016. These new laws are broken into the following:
  1. Coming into effect on the 30th of July 2018, drones are banned from exceeding 400 feet and flying within 1 kilometre of airport boundaries. People who break these new laws may face an unlimited fine and/or up to five years in prison.
  2. Coming into effect from the 30th of November 2019, owners of drones weighing over 250 grams will have to register their drone with the CAA and complete an online safety test. This will include the DJI Spark, the smallest drone manufactured by DJI. Drone pilots who fail to register and sit the tests will face fines of up to £1000.00.
These new laws are part of the government’s policy paper ‘Industrial Strategy: the Grand Challenges’. This aims to ensure drones are being used safely to coincide with the expansion of their use across the UK. Exemptions from these new rules will be possible as deemed necessary by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and individual airports. Further information will be released on this shortly.

Future Drone Regulations

In addition to today’s announcements, the government also provided details of changes to the drone laws and regulations in the future. One new area expected is a new Drone Bill due to be published in the Summer of 2018. The Drone Bill will feature several new laws including more extensive powers for the police to intervene with drones being used in an inappropriate or unsafe way. Additionally, it will be necessary for drone pilots to use apps for drone flights. This will help ensure drone flights are safe and legal. As of yet, no timeframe has been announced in this area.

Additional Points in the Drone Law Announcement

The announcement also included several other points surrounding drones and UAVs:
  • The CAA will be working with various model aircraft associations to ensure the new rules don’t impact their activities
  • The government highlighted examples of positive drone use. This included Costain using drones to inspect Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station as well as drones being used to cut costs by around 50% as part of wind turbine inspections
  • They also highlight a PwC report that advised the uptake of drones could be worth up to £41.7 billion to the UK GDP by 2030

DJI Response to New Drone Laws

Following the announcement from the Department for Transport, DJI have released a statement of support for the new rules. The statement advised DJI consider the new laws to be a sensible balance between protecting the public and enhancing the benefits of drones within British businesses. Specific notice of the drone pilot online testing was mentioned, as DJI advised this helps pilots understand and comply with the drone laws. They also mentioned their continued support of safe drone flight and numerous ways they have supported this over recent years.

Update - 16/07/2018

The CAA has submitted a 2018 amendment to the Air Navigation Order following the government's recent announcement to update the UK drone laws. This update includes the following points: Effective 30/07/2018:
  • Drones are subject to a 400ft height limitation
  • All drones are subject to a limitation on the closest distance flown to a specific type of aerodrome
  • Terminology has been updated from 'person in charge' to 'SUA operator' or 'remote pilot'
  • Minor corrections to ANO 2016
Effective 30/11/2019:
  • Requirement for the registration of drones
  • Requirement for a competency test of drone piloting skills
All commercial drone operators must update their operations manual with the appropriate information. Any application or renewal submitted to the CAA which haven't been updated will automatically be rejected. Additional permissions may be required to fly in the above scenarios depending on the specific operation of each drone pilot.

Summary

The new drone laws announced in the UK should help increase safe drone flight within the UK. The rules set to come into effect in July 2019 around the height and airport restrictions, develop aspects of the existing Drone Code, increasing the ability to punish unsafe pilots who don’t follow the rules. The Drone registration set for November 2019, follows in the footsteps of the USA and other countries in creating accountability for pilots and ensuring they are aware of the rules before they can get in the air. The rules are clearly focussed on reducing unsafe drone flight rather than restricting pilots who fly responsibly. The UK government also clearly acknowledge the benefits drone have to the UK economy and a wealth of different businesses. Like all of the of laws surrounding drones in the UK, the air is on safety and will have little impact on safe drone pilots.
To discuss any information from the above post or any DJI or Freefly product, please give one of our team a call 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.

Recent heliguy™ Blog Posts