Following the Gatwick airport fiasco at Christmas, when repeated sightings of drones over three days forced the cancellation of more than 1,000 flights, the police are to be given new powers to curb the dangerous use of drones.
Under the proposed package of measures recently announced by the government, the police will be able to forcibly land a drone and then seize it, including any data stored inside, if a serious offence has been committed.
They will also be able to issue fixed-penalty notices for minor drone offences, including not landing when ordered and failure to show the appropriate registration.
Aside from developing a range of options to respond to drones, the Home Office will also begin work on new counter-drone technologies which can detect and repel devices around sensitive sites such as airports and prisons.
Meanwhile the current 1km exclusion zone around airports will be expanded to 5km, with even longer distances around the ends of runways.
Finally, from November 2019, anyone operating a drone will be forced to register and take an online test to prove their ability to safely fly the devices.
Aside from this new legislation, Gatwick and Heathrow airports have already pledged to invest millions of pounds into anti-drone technology in an effort to avoid a repeat of the recent chaos.
Whilst what happened at Christmas may have led many to conclude that drones have nothing positive to offer society, one city’s recent actions could go some way to altering public opinion.
A fleet of drones have been used to spray water over Bangkok in an effort to tackle surging air pollution amid fears of a public health crisis which saw the government close over 400 schools and advise citizens to stay indoors.
The drones, backed up by planes and trucks, were employed after a toxic combination of traffic exhaust fumes, construction works, burning crops and factory pollution caused what has been described as Bangkok’s “worst ever smog”.
For more information please visit the CAA website, see articles:
Article 241 - endangering safety of any person or property
Article 94 - small unmanned aircraft requirements
Article 94A - small unmanned aircraft; height restrictions on flights
Article 94B - small unmanned aircraft; restrictions on flights that are over or near aerodromes
Article 95 - small unmanned surveillance aircraft