UK Drone Laws – The FactsFollowing 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:
- 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.
- 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.
Future Drone RegulationsIn 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 AnnouncementThe 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 LawsFollowing 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 - 16/07/2018The 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
- Requirement for the registration of drones
- Requirement for a competency test of drone piloting skills
SummaryThe 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.
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