Last month drones seen flying over Gatwick Airport caused a 36-hour shutdown. It resulted in an unsuccessful man-hunt for the irresponsible drone user and surprisingly, questions surrounding if the drone even existed at all! With a seemly exhausted line-of-inquiry, now the UK government has announced a further crackdown on legitimate drone users requiring registration and an online competency test for even casual fliers.
While an online competency test will help ensure the skies are safer and drone users are competent, it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the chaos of last month where 155 flights were cancelled on safety grounds. Due to compensation rules, many fliers were not entitled to refunds surrounding the exceptional circumstances, resulting in many angry customers.
Following on from a consultation with the public in July, the government has now announced that no-fly zones around airports will be extended further and from 30 November 2019 all drones between 250g and 20kg will need to be registered by their users. New legislation will also give police officers the power to land drones, search premises and seize equipment. The police will also be able to give fixed-penalty notices of £100 for offences such as failing to comply with an officer when instructed to land a drone or not showing them the required paperwork when commanded.
Tougher legislation on those who abuse the rules are very much welcomed by the drone community however other requirements such as drone registration and stricter rules are disappointing. There are already strict airspace restrictions that keep the public safe and make drone flights safe and so the additional rules seem unfair and unfit to solve a problem largely caused by rogue agents who don’t follow the rules anyway.
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