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Increasing presence of Drones in the UK

31-July-2015 15:53
in Aviation and Travel
by John Ditchburn

When considering aviation law little thought is given to the latest way everyone can get a “bird in the air”. The days of a radio controlled plane at the park have been surpassed all one needs to do is pop into Maplin and buy your own drone. Within minutes you can be up in the air running reconnaissance missions. But how will this new aviation development be managed by the state? Chambers aviation team shares the developments.

There has been an increase in the use of drones in the UK over the past year, which has called for regulations to be put in place to monitor this growing trend. So what is a drone? Drones are unpiloted aircrafts/spacecraft also known as ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ (UAVs), traditionally used by the military as they don’t put a pilot’s life at risk in combat zones. However, recently there has been an increase of public use for recreational purposes, surveillance and data-gathering.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in January 2010 introduced regulations which require operators of drones used for aerial work, data acquisition or surveillance to first attain permission from the CAA before initiating a flight within a congested area or in proximity to people or property.

The growing use of drones may even be adopted by companies to deliver products to its consumers in the near future. Amazon has reportedly tested and plan to go ahead with using drones to deliver, however they are currently waiting upon final regulations governing the commercial use of unmanned aircrafts which should be brought into place by June next year. According to current patents, the drones which Amazon proposes to use will be able to track the location of the consumer they are delivering to by pulling data from their smartphone and will be able to talk to other drones about weather and traffic conditions.

Whilst the use of drones may be used by companies to help give a better service to consumers, there is still an issue of civilian use of the machines. There have been several reported cases of near misses when drones ‘buzz’ passenger jets. This has promoted the CAA to issue ‘drone code’ to combat the growing problem of which there have been six recorded serious incidents of in the past year. Clearly more needs to be done to control and promote the safe use of these drones by all users. Food for thought in our brave new world.


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