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“Don’t get done because of your drone this Christmas”, warn pilots.

With drones high on many peoples Christmas lists, British pilots are reminding people who buy one that they need to understand the new drone laws, or they could get a very unwanted Christmas present… time in jail or a fine.

Earlier this year new laws came into force that limit drones to 400ft and prevent them from flying within 1km of an airport boundary. Drone users who flout these rules could face a fine, up to five years in prison, or both. It’s hoped the new laws will help reverse the recent rise in near misses between manned aircraft and drones reported to the UK Air Proximity Board. So far, up until November this year there were already 117 near misses, compared to 93 for the whole of 2017.

BALPA continues to press the Government to go further with the new laws and is calling for the extension of the no-fly zone at airports along the approach path and to 5km from the boundary, 1 km wide. *See Fig 1 for a visual representation of how such restricted zones would look at Glasgow airport

Pilots also continue to press for registration and testing laws to be brought in, as promised, by November 2019. 

Head of Flight Safety at BALPA, Dr Rob Hunter said:

“Even two kilograms of metal and plastic, including the battery, hitting an aircraft windscreen or engine or a helicopter tail rotor, could be catastrophic.

“People who buy these devices need to make sure that they know the rules and stick to them, so they don’t put anyone’s life in danger.

“Pilots want to make sure airspace is safe for all users and that’s why BALPA continues to push for tighter restrictions around airports, for strict enforcement of these laws and for the Government to make good on its promise to bring in registration and testing for drone users.

“Pilots don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun but if you are going to use drones the message is clear: Know the laws or expect serious consequences. 

“Before taking to the air have a really good think about where you are, keep your drone in sight, consider what aircraft might be flying about and keep clear – it is your responsibility.”

Fig 1.