New drone laws were introduced in the UK this week in an attempt to improve aviation safety. Drone users caught flouting these laws could face up to five years in prison.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) already has a set of rules and guidelines in its Dronecode which aim to promote safe and responsible drone use and some of these rules have now been incorporated into the new laws.

Register Your Drone

Drones weighing over 250g must now be registered with the CAA by the 30th November 2019 and a safety test must be completed. Failure to register your drone or complete the test could result in fines of £1,000. Drones that weigh more the 250g include popular models such as the DJI Mavic Pro, the Parrot Bebop 2, and the lightweight DJI Spark.

Flying Your Drone

Under these new laws, drones are now restricted to flying below 400ft and cannot fly within 1km of airport boundaries. If a drone is found to be endangering an aircraft, the user could face an unlimited fine, up to 5 years in prison, or both.

There has been a year on year increase in aircraft incidents involving drones. In 2017 alone there were 93 incidents reported compared with zero in 2013. Commercial aircrafts carrying as many as 130 people have experienced a number of ‘near-misses’ on UK runways in recent years putting the lives of those on board at serious risk.

Future Drone Laws?

While the new laws place emphasis on the safety of aircrafts around drone, a new draft Drone Bill will also be released later this year which is expected to give more power to the police to intervene where they believe a drone is being flown irresponsibly or posing a danger to others by confiscating the device and any memory card for evidence.

It is also expected to propose the use of geo-fencing which provides an invisible barrier blocking drones from entering zones believed to be sensitive areas. These could include prisons which have been the subject of many reports involving drones dropping contraband into prison yards.

With the continued popularity of drones, it is only to be expected that the laws surrounding their use will continue to develop to ensure the safety of the general public. If you are a drone operator be sure to keep yourself informed about changes in laws and regulations so you don’t unintentionally find yourself in breach of them.

If you require legal representation relating to drone laws please contact Farleys Solicitors on 0845 287 0939 or contact us by email. For emergency representation you can call our 24 hour line on 01254 606050.