Drones are now far from being the novelty item they once were. The popularity of drone technology has massively increased in recent years, providing useful surveillance and photography for a diverse range of purposes, from targeting rural crimes and military use to recreational filming and photography, as well as farming.
With the numbers of drones in our skies multiplying, the risks of inceidents involving manned aircrafts are increasing. As a drone user, it's important that to be aware of the laws and codes that must be complied with to ensure these risks are reduced.
What are the risks associated with drones?
Flying drones includes different complexities – issues of privacy, potential for accidents with other aircraft, risks of damage if the pilot loses control of the drone or it/parts of it fall out of the sky.
The Government has acknowledged the concerns of organisations such as the CLA and a draft “Drone Bill” is due to be published in the Spring. The Bill will contain enhanced regulations and obligations upon drone owners such as mandatory registration of new drones the requirement to take a safety awareness test. Tougher penalties for breaches are also anticipated.
But for now the Civil Aviation Authority has in place a “Drone Code” which contains the following guidelines:
- Always keep your drone in sight
- Stay below 400ft
- Every time you fly your drone, follow the manufacturers’ instructions
- Keep the right distance from people and property (150ft or 500ft for crowds and built up areas
- Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields – it is a criminal offence to endanger the safety of an aircraft, punishable by up to 5 years in prison
- You are legally responsible for each flight – failure to fly responsibly
The future of drone use and the law
Many of the current guidelines and regulations are really a matter of common sense. You will need to think about where you are and consider the potential risks and dangers and the upcoming Bill should reinforce this
As technologies continue to innovate. the use of drones will undoubtedly increase across both business and recreational use so it's extremely important that users take full responsilibity and ensure they are complying with the guidelines.