Will you soon need to pass a test to fly your drone?
UK government ministers have today proposed a safety test for drone users following a consultation on drone safety. This follows a raft of developments around the world as governments begin to crack down on irresponsible drone use.
Although they have been used for some time in military applications, commercial drone use has become more widespread in recent years as the devices have become more affordable. However, this has led to a number of concerns over improper and unscrupulous use due to the lack of restrictions on both owning and flying such devices.
Speaking about drone users in the UK, Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad commented: “Some are not aware of the rules or choose to break them, putting public safety, privacy and security at risk.”
More stringent regulations have been put in place for drone use including a 50 metre exclusion zone around certain buildings, vehicles or over large crowds. However, now users may have to take a test similar to a driving theory test.
This news has been met with consternation in some quarters with claims that the test will miss the point and only impact on the sensible drone users, as criminals and terrorists will ignore the regulations – not to mention the costs involved with setting up a drone equivalent of the DVLA.
Ministers proposing this tightening of drone regulations have also proposed criminal liability for anyone found flying a drone in ‘no-fly zones’ and an increase in fines for improper use – which currently cannot exceed £2,500.
Tim Johnson, the Policy Director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said: “Our priority is the safe operation of drones and we cannot underestimate the importance of understanding how to use drones safely and responsibly. Drones have significant potential to drive benefits across a range of sectors from farming to emergency response, healthcare to logistics. We encourage anyone with an interest in this area to respond to the government’s consultation.”