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Safety-first for drones

By [email protected] - 7th January 2019 - 15:26

The benefits of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in applications as diverse as environmental monitoring, conserving historic buildings and managing assets across water networks, are described in some detail in this issue. Yet less welcome news continues to hit the headlines.

Even as we went to press, a drone was reported as coming within 15m of a Boeing 737 making an approach at Stansted Airport. According to the UK Airprox Board which investigates near misses, the situation was one “where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed.”

Needless to say, safety was a major talking point at last November’s Commercial UAV Show in London, with much discussion around the addition of two new laws in the latest version of the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code. The first makes it a criminal offence to fly a drone within 1 km of airport boundaries; the second prohibits flying above 400ft (120m) without CAA clearance.

It is also the Government’s intention to introduce more safety-driven legislation (the long-awaited Drones Bill) over the coming year. This will require the registration of drones weighing 250g or more, for which purpose the CAA has just conducted a survey to find out how it can build an online registration service in line with pilots’ needs.

Professional drone operators will, of course, be well acquainted with and abide by the rules that govern safe flying, The question is, how do you stop those who, whether by accident, design, or sheer ignorance, will be launching their Christmas presents into the sky without a second thought? Perhaps it’s just as well that, according to new research from the CAA, a third of clumsy Brits admit to breaking their Christmas gadgets within hours of opening them!

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