CAA: Drones users must observe rules of the sky, or face prosecution

Published on : Thursday, July 23, 2015

Civil Aviation Authority logoThe UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in conjunction with NATS and pilots’ union, BALPA, has today launched a new drone awareness initiative targeting the increasing number of recreational drone users in the UK, to ensure they operate their devices as safely as possible at all times.


Tim Johnson, CAA Director of Policy said, “We want to embrace and enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology, but we must ensure that this is done safely, with all airspace users in mind. It is imperative that people observe the rules when operating a drone. Drone users must understand that when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world – a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders, light aircraft and now drones. When doing so, they must be aware of the rules and regulations for flying drones that are designed to keep all air users safe.”


The ‘Drone Safety Awareness Day’ will see the launch of a dedicated online resource where existing and potential users can access advice on safe drone operation, along with the ‘Dronecode’, a list of tips that will ensure recreational users can enjoy their drone without posing any risk to aircraft and other airspace users.


Johnson continued, “Interest in drones has developed rapidly in the last couple of years and our main concern is to ensure owners of drones can enjoy this rapidly growing technology safely and have regard for all other airspace users when doing so. Our cross industry initiative launched today, sets out the simple rules that all drone users should follow to ensure they comply with the law and support the safety of all airspace. If they do this they can avoid prosecution and a possible jail term or fine.”


The initiative follows a number of recent incidents involving drones and various aircraft. On each occasion, the drone users appeared to be flying the devices well above drone height limits, with some reported as high as 2,000ft from ground level and in areas where large aircraft are present. This has prompted the CAA to join together with other leading aviation bodies to remind users of the importance of following the clear safety rules that are in place – with a particular focus on making sure users always keep devices well within their ‘visual line of sight’ (a maximum height of around 400ft).


By following the top tips for drone safety and sticking closely to the existing rules, users can make sure they enjoy all the benefits of flying a drone without causing any problems.


Stephen Landells is a flight safety specialist at BALPA. He says: “Drones are here to stay and will have important benefits for the UK in the future. Drone operators need to put safety at the forefront of their minds when flying, though, and ensure there is no conflict with commercial manned traffic. Pilots want to ensure the operators are adequately trained and the correct precautions are put in place to avoid collisions in the air.”


Phil Binks, a drone expert at air traffic control company, NATS, said: “Drones can be fantastic tools and we’re sure to see more and more flying in UK skies in the coming years. But with that growth comes the need to remind people of their obligations as airspace users and that safety always has to be the top priority.”


The CAA has also welcomed moves by drone manufacturers to build in ‘geo-fencing’ capabilities into their products. Geo-fencing prohibits drones from being flown into pre-programmed geographical areas, such as airport control zones. It can also set a limit on how high a device can fly.


Source:- CAA

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