Drone driving tests: New drone safety rules proposed in the UK

21 Dec 2016

Compulsory drone registration is already a reality in Ireland and the US. Image: Stock Image/Shutterstock

Under new rules, anyone who buys a drone in the UK will have to register it and take a safety test.

Under new proposals tabled by UK transport undersecretary Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), drone purchasers will face mandatory registration of new drones.

Owners will also have to make their drones electronically identifiable so details can be passed to police.

‘The government is taking a common sense approach to tackling this behaviour, ensuring the safe roll-out of this technology’

There will also be tougher penalties for illegal flying near no-fly zones and new signs for no-fly zones at sensitive sites such as airports and prisons.

Drone industry will be worth £102bn by 2025

Lord Ahmad said that the UK government is determined to make the most out of drone technology, a market estimated to be worth around £102bn by 2025.

“Drones have enormous economic potential and are already being used by emergency services, transport and energy providers, and conservation groups to improve services, respond to incidents and save lives,” Lord Ahmad said.

“While the vast majority of drone users are law-abiding and have good intentions, some operators are not aware of the rules, or choose to break them, putting public safety, privacy and security at risk.

“The government is taking a common sense approach to tackling this behaviour, ensuring the safe roll-out of this technology.”

Drone safety rules in the UK

The CAA recently launched its Dronecode, created a Drone Safe website, and the recently released NATS safety app for drone users, Drone Assist.

The UK already has strict regulations around drone aviation. Any drone with a camera cannot be flown within 50 metres of buildings, vehicles or over large crowds.

The new regulations will apply to any drone weighing over 250g (0.55 pounds).

“Our priority is the safe operation of drones and we cannot underestimate the importance of understanding how to use drones safely and responsibly,” Tim Johnson, policy director at the CAA.

“The new CAA Dronecode, which forms part of our wider drone awareness campaign, is designed to help protect the safety of the wider aviation industry.

“Drones have significant potential to drive benefits across a range of sectors, from farming to emergency response, healthcare to logistics.”

Quadcopter drone with camera. Image: Stock Image/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years