All drones will be restricted from flying above 400ft and within one kilometre of all airport boundaries.
The laws are being introduced due to the exponential increase of drone users and increase in reports of drone incidents in the UK.
These restrictions are being put in place to reduce the likelihood of any incidents with manned aircraft. These will come into effect on 30th July 2018.
The government are also working on a database where all drone operators flying anything above 250 grams will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The pilots will also have to complete an online safety test to ensure they are competent flyers who know the rules and regulations. This test should make UK skies a safer place and stop the current irresponsible operators. This will come in to force on 30th November 2019.
The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to these restrictions in specific circumstances most likely for commercial users.
Baroness Sugg, commented
We are seeing fast growth in the numbers of drones being used, both commercially and for fun. Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies. These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.
What laws are being changed?
The new laws are being made via an amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016.
If a drone user was to break these laws by acting recklessly or are found to be negligent by endangering manned aircraft this could result in an unlimited fine and up to 5 years in prison.
Pilots who fail to register their drone or fail to sit the competency tests could be facing a fine of up to £1,000
Why are these laws being introduced?
The number of drone users has significantly increased over the past few years in both the commercial area and the hobby markets.
If you are flying commercially (getting paid or valuable consideration) you need to be registered with the CAA and obtain a Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO). The number of PfCOs issued in 2016 was 2,500, this has increased to 3,800 in 2017 and is expected to increase further this year.
A draft drone bill is also being published this summer which will give the police more powers to deal with any pilots not flying sensibly.
Will there be any insurance implications?
Commercial operators need to have third party liability drone insurance to operate by law.
We have been selling insurance to commercial operators in the UK since 2017 and our drone insurance policy has been designed for operators holding a PfCO.
If you operate commercially you will need a policy which is compliant with EU regulation EC 785/2004 which our policy meets.
The minimum requirements for commercial insurance for small unmanned aircraft is third party liability of a minimum 750,000 SDRs. We can also offer additional covers including damage to your drones and equipment.
The hobbyist market doesn’t come under the same regulation as commercial operators. Even though it is recommended to have insurance as a recreational flyer this is not something which is needed by law. The stance on this may change in the future. If you are a recreational flyer looking for insurance give us a call to discuss your requirements.
Remember to always fly safe and if you are unsure of the rules and regs check out the drone code.