The Dronecode - part 3
31 July 2017
The drone as a hazard
New safety measurements to be installed
In order to protect people from further drone incidents the UK plans to introduce three measurements within the upcoming months.
Will I need to pass a safety test?
Measurement 1: Safety test
The UK is planning to make amateur drone pilots sit a flight safety test in response to the rising number of near-misses with aircraft. This regulation will be presented to parliament in the coming months.
The decision was additionally motivated by a recent growth in incidents.
In 2016, there were 70 incidents and in the first six months of 2017 there were 46 incidents which shows a rise in incidents over the years since in 2014 there were only 29 incidents.
Since Europe’s air traffic management initiative is expecting 7 million leisure drones across Europe in 2050 the commercial industry wants regulations.
The rules will be applied to drones weighing 250g or more since latest research has shown that drones weighing 400g can already damage the windscreen of a helicopter and a drone of 2kg is capable of critically damaging aircraft windscreens, as well as the jet engine of an aircraft.
The cost of the scheme is not yet known but it is likely to be an online or app-based system where users will have to pass a safety awareness test.
Will I need to register my drone?
Measurement 2: Registration system
In order to reduce the misuse of drones a registration system will be launched shortly for those weighing 250g or more.
The CAA calls for a registration of drone users to be linked to systems which would allow real-time tracking and tracing of gadgets, to aid enforcement of flying laws.
Currently anyone can purchase a drone and stay anonymous which entails the risk of misuse.
This is underpinned by the recorded incidents, e.g. rows between neighbours, prison smuggling, burglary “scoping” exercises and fears around snooping, as well as transporting drugs.
Figures by the Press Association show that there were a recorded 3,456 episodes last year, almost triple the 2015 figure of 1,237 and more than 12 times the 2014 tally of 283.
Is Geo-fencing a restriction too far?
Measurement 3: Geo- fencing
Geo-fencing helps to prevent drones to enter restricted areas, such as airports or prisons.
This technology is a straightforward system. Drones that support geofencing regularly download databases from their manufacturers that delineate active no-go zones. That means that if a drone flies toward a restricted area, its built-in GPS will sense the boundary, and the drone will stop mid-flight. If an operator then tries to take off inside a restricted area, the drone won’t start up at all.
Therefore, the UK wants to create a database of sensitive sites and buildings which would allow manufacturers to install geo-fencing sensors to prevent drones from flying near or over those areas.