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Drone Owners will Need to Take Safety Test Under New UK Regulation


Near-misses with airliners and drug delivery in prison have convinced the UK government to design new drone regulation

New planned regulation might require British drone users to take safety awareness tests in order to fly unmanned vehicles over 250 grams of weight.

Drones over 250g—i.e. most professional and recreational drones, apart from the cheapest toy versions—might also be banned altogether from flying near airports or above 121 metres (400 ft) of altitude, with the aim of avoiding collisions with airliners.

Drone owners will have to register their devices in an official government list, while police will be given novel powers to seize and ground drones suspected to have been utilised in illicit activity.

The UK already has a voluntary code of conduct aimed at promoting conscientious usage on the part of drone owners, but several recent incidents have persuaded the government to introduce new specific laws to deal with the technology. The new proposed bill is slated for publication in spring 2018

Among the most pressing drone-related problems are a host of quasi-collisions between unmanned vehicles and passenger jets. The British Airline Pilots’ Association reported that the number of incidents involving drones has skyrocketed from 29 in 2015 and 71 last year to 81 cases so far this year. Earlier this year, in July, it was revealed that a near-miss between a drone and a civilian airliner landing at London Gatwick had  threatened the lives of 130 passengers.

Authorities are also increasingly worried about drones being used to illegally deliver goods—from drugs, to weapons and mobile phone— to inmates in British prison.

Serena Kennedy, Assistant Chief Constable of the National Police Chiefs Council , told the BBC  “At the moment we’re using other bits of legislation – the Civil Aviation Authority’s – to enable us to take action. This draft legislation will give us the powers we need to tackle drones when they are being used for criminal purposes.”

Aviation minister Baroness Sugg released a statement on the new proposed legislation: “Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops,” she said.

“But if we are to realize the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.”


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