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Pilots call for Government to strengthen unsafe drone law

Pilots are urging the Government to strengthen new drone laws that come in to force today (Monday 30th July 2018) saying the restrictions don’t go far enough to eliminate the threat of a serious collision.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) is pleased the Government has listened to its calls to tighten laws on drones, but says they need to go much further to make the use of drones near airports safe.

From today new laws limit drones to 400ft and prevent them from flying within 1km of an airport boundary. But pilots have highlighted the fact that aircraft could easily be below 400ft at this point on approach to an airport, which means there is still significant risk of unmanned flights and drones coming in to contact. Pilots say this isn’t safe and are urging the Government to consider extending the 1km to prevent potential collisions.

BALPA has welcomed the Government announcement that it is to hold a consultation on the new laws, to which BALPA will contribute. BALPA will continue to push for the laws to be made fit for purpose to properly protect passengers, crew and those on the ground from potentially catastrophic collisions.

BALPA Head of Flight Safety, Dr Rob Hunter, says:

“We are pleased that the Government has recognised the dangers and is taking the recent dramatic rise in near misses seriously, but it is crucial these new law changes are right and address the problem properly if we are to avoid a potential catastrophe.

“The Government has committed to a consultation on the new laws which BALPA will be contribute to.

“We are urging the Government to consider following the example set by Australia where unmanned operations must not be flown within 3nm [nautical miles (around 5.5km)] of an airfield.

“BALPA is not anti-drone and we understand the commercial considerations in not making laws too restrictive. But safety must come first and allowing hobbyist or commercial drones to be flown in an area where they could come in to contact with a manned aircraft, increases the risk of a catastrophic collision.”