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New Safety Tests To Be Rolled Out For UK Drone Users?

Posted: 06/12/2017

If you use drones for work purposes, you may find you need to take safety awareness tests in the near future as part of a government crackdown on unsafe flying. Police will also be granted new powers to ground drones and seize them if they may have been used in criminal activity.

According to the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), there have been 81 incidents involving near misses with drones and aircrafts so far this year, up from the 71 seen in 2016 and 29 in the year before, the BBC reports.

Drones that weigh more than 250g could potentially be banned from flying near airports or above 400ft under the proposals as well. The proposed bill is due to be published in spring next year and will mean that users of drones over 250g will have to register and also take a test.

Commenting on the news, Brian Strutton – General Secretary of Balpa – was quoted by the news source as saying: “These proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Head of European Public Policy at drone manufacturing brand DJI Christian Struwe noted that some of the proposals being put forward could be hard to police, such as the height restriction.

But he did say that the industry is already working on this and limits can be put in place as to how high unmanned aerial vehicles can fly. He also welcomed the move to limit poor use of drones, saying how important it is that people are aware of the rules and regulations they have to follow.

Back in August, findings from a study by Balpa, the Department for Transport and the Military Aviation Authority found that drones weighing over 400g could potentially damage helicopter windscreens, although airliner screens were found to be tougher in this regard. A drone weighing around 2kg would be able to damage an airliner screen critically and the airliner in question would also have to be flying at high speed, not just at take-off or landing.

At the time, aviation minister Lord Callanan commented on the news that a test may be required for drone users, saying: “Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones. 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, introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”

Given that more companies are increasingly using drone technology to help them further their business aims, it would perhaps be wise to follow this news story closely so you don’t fall foul of the law in the future.

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