UK government is clamping down on drone owners

Marine with Task Force Southwest catches the Instant Eye small
unmanned aerial system following a flight at Marine Corps Base
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, February 8,

US Marines
Corps/Sgt. Lucas Hopkins

The UK government is preparing to get a lot stricter on drones as
their increasing popularity raises a number of safety concerns.

Citizens that own drones weighing more than 250g (80z) may need
to register their drone and attend safety awareness courses under
new government rules
announced on Saturday
. The proposals come after a number of
near misses with larger aircraft in the sky. 

The Department of Transport did not specify when the new rules
could be introduced or how exactly they would be enforced but it
said the tests are designed to assess whether owners
understand the safety, security, and privacy regulations.

The government said it also plans to bring forward and expand the
use of “geo-fencing”. This would involve programming drones using
GPS co-ordinates to stop them entering no-fly zones, such as
prisons or airport space.

DJI, one of the best known drone makers, told the BBC that it was in favour
of the proposed new measures.

gopro karma drone
A GoPro drone.

“Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising
the full potential of drones,” said Aviation Minister Lord Martin

“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport
infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in
search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.

“But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By
registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to
educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of
airspace restrictions to protect the public.”

The Independent
last August that drone complaints to UK police
soared 352% in a year. Some people have used them to spy on
people, while others have flown them dangerously close to
commercial airliners and helicopters. They’ve also been used to
fly contraband into prisons.

Last year, the government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
launched what it called the “drone code”.
The key principles of the drone code include:

  • always keep your drone in sight
  • stay below 400 feet (120 metres)
  • follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • keep the right distance from people and property
  • you are responsible for each flight
  • stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields

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