New Drone users are unaware of current drone law
The Coronavirus pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone. As well as the obvious concerns about health and wellbeing the lockdown has caused financial worries and general anxiety about how long the situation will continue and what life might be like in years to come.
The vast majority of the UK population have followed government advice by only traveling when necessary and only going out for daily exercise or essential shopping. Unfortunately, there are a minority of people who flout the rules and in extreme cases exploit the situation.
With drone sales matching Christmas sales over the lockdown period, just how many of these new users are now flying illegally?.
We understand that Police and law enforcement authorities have other priorities but the this type of drone drone use is putting the public at risk and causing harm to the reputation of our industry at a critical time.
Now might seem a great time for someone to take up drone flying as a hobby. Most of us are locked in our homes or are only allowed out for brief spells of exercise. Some might interpret a walk to the local park to fly a drone as a form of exercise. Although most shops are closed, online retailers like Amazon have seen a spike in sales of all kinds of products including drones.
There are two obvious areas of concern about the increase of drone use in the lockdown.
Firstly, how many new drone owners have registered their aircraft? The CAA introduced drone registration at the end of November 2019. The process involves passing an online competency test covering some of the basic rules relating to flight safety. As well as lack of enforcement of drone laws it was widely acknowledged that many owners simply didn’t know that regulations existed. Around 40,000 drones were registered by the November 2019 deadline, but it was estimated there were between 90,000 and 120,000 in the UK at the time.
The potential £1,000 fine for failing to register appears to have been something of a blunt instrument. Drones were a popular Christmas present in 2019 and sales have accelerated in 2020, so how many un-registered aircraft are there now?
Are you aware of the drone registration and regulations in the UK?
The second major concern about the use of drones in the lockdown is the increase in irresponsible and dangerous flights.
These often go unreported but Drone Safe Register have seen shocking examples of drones being flown in congested areas, over motorways and close to buildings and vehicles. This is likely to be a combination of ignorance of the rules and some pilots believing that quieter streets mean it’s safe to fly anywhere.
As the lockdown eases and it becomes possible for people to travel and work more freely we are concerned that there could be an increase in rogue commercial drone operators.
Our members work hard to obtain and maintain their PFCO approval and invest in training and equipment to become drone professionals. Drone Safe Register work with the CAA and other bodies to ensure drones are flown safely and legally and that operators undertaking commercial work have the necessary approval.
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