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New Drone Laws Restrict Flight Heights In The UK

New laws being introduced restrict how high you can fly a drone. Plus, you'll have to take an online test and you might have to register your drone with the Civil Aviation Authority.

|  Phantom 4 in Drones
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DJI Phantom4 In Air  Cropped Close
 

The UK Government is introducing new drone flying height limits for drone users which, if they're not adhered to, may result in fines or even prison time. 

From 30 July 2018, those who own and fly drones in the UK must not breach a flight height of 400m (which is still pretty high, let's be honest) and drones are also not allowed to fly within 1KM of an airport boundary. Plus, after 30 November 2019, those who own drones that weigh over 250 grams will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and drone flyers will have to take an online safety test.


Fines & Prison Time

Drone users who choose to ignore the new height restriction or fly a drone too close to an airport could be charged with 'recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft'. If found guilty, this could result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

Users who fail to register or sit the competency tests could face fines of up to £1,000.

 

Why The Changes?

The changes are being made following a year-on-year increase in the report of drone incidents with aircraft which grew from 71 in 2016 to 89 in 2017.

In addition to these measures, a draft Drones Bill will be published this summer, which will give police more tailored powers to intervene on the spot if drones are being used inappropriately and drone operators will eventually be required to use apps that will give them the information needed to plan safe and legal flights. 

 

DJI Phantom4 In Air
 

Commenting on the drone law changes, Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said: "Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies. drones in our skies. These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly."

Chris Woodroofe, Chief Operating Officer, Gatwick Airport, added: "Drones open up some exciting possibilities but must be used responsibly. These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public."

A name that's very much at the forefront of drone technology is DJI and they have welcomed the new UK drone rules saying: "The Department for Transport’s updates to the regulatory framework strike a sensible balance between protecting public safety and bringing the benefits of drone technology to British businesses and the public at large. 

The vast majority of drone pilots fly safely and responsibly, and governments, aviation authorities and drone manufacturers agree we need to work together to ensure all drone pilots know basic safety rules. We are therefore particularly pleased about the Department for Transport’s commitment to accessible online testing as a way of helping drone users to comply with the law."

The new laws are being made via an amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016.

You can find more detailed information on the UK Government website

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