UK mulling drone registration, safety tests

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Drones

Reports in the local media in the UK have said that UK government is mulling over possible drone registration as well as safety awareness courses for owners of the small unmanned aircraft so as to put an end to misuse of drones as well as ensure safety of people in general.

According to the BBC, the decision came in the backdrop of several reports of passenger jets being involved in near-miss incidents with drones in the UK. The Department of Transport in the UK says registration will be mandated for owners of drones weighing more than 250 grams. The drone safety awareness test will involve potential flyers having to “prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations”, it said.

The report says firm plan and time frame has to be worked out. The plans also include the extension of geo-fencing, in which no-fly zones are programmed into drones using GPS co- ordinates, around areas such as prisons and airports, it said.

Aviation minister Lord Martin Callanan said: “Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones”.

“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.

“But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public,” he said.

In the US, similar registration rules in March were successfully challenged in court and as a result, they are not applicable to non-commercial flyers, the report said.

In November last year, a passenger jet approaching Heathrow Airport was involved in a near-miss incident with two drones, the first such recorded instance in the UK.

Scotland Yard was informed after the incident, but the drones’ operators were not found.

Authorities said that the incident had “compromised the safety of the aircraft”.

According to reports, there have been five near-misses between aircraft and drones in March, bringing the total number to 62 over the past 12 months.

Under the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority rules, drones must not be flown above 400 feet or near airports or airfields.

Last year, more than 3,456 incidents involving drones were recorded, compared to only 1,237 in 2015. The incidents include invasions of privacy, disputes between neighbours and prison smuggling.

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