Drone flying in the UK: Do you need a licence and what are the laws?

Here are the laws to be aware of before flying a drone in the UK

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 9:27 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:36 am
As drone use has increased in the UK laws have been introduced (Photo: Shutterstock)

Drones have never been more popular, but their misuse has never been more prevalent.

In 2018 there have already been 117 "near misses" between manned aircraft and drones up according to BALPA (British Airline Pilots' Association).

As unmanned aerial vehicles become more widely used we look at the laws which owners are required to follow.

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As drone use has increased in the UK laws have been introduced (Photo: Shutterstock)

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How close can drones fly to airports?

New laws came into force earlier this year which banned all drones from flying within 1km of airport boundaries.

The laws also stipulated that drones were not allowed to be flown over 400ft.

Those who break said laws could be hit with an unlimited fine and/or up to five years in prison.

These were introduced when research funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) found that a drone weighing just 400g could smash the windscreen of a helicopter, while one weighing 2kg could cause damage to an airliner's windscreen.

Are there any other laws owners need to bear in mind?

The House of Commons introduced laws in may which mean people who fly drones that weigh 250g or more are required to register with the Civil Aviation Authority.

Drone pilots will also be required to take an online safety test.

Both laws will come into force next November.

Earlier this year the Department for Transport revealed that they were weighing up introducing an age restriction, banning children from owning craft weighing 250g or more.

They also suggested that police would soon be issued with the power to issue on-the-spot fines up to £300 for misuses of drones, as well as the ability to seize if used irresponsibly.

How to stay safe when flying drones

Balpa have warned drone users to be aware of the rules of drone flying before flying outdoors.

Dr Rob Hunter, head of flight safety, said: "Even two kilograms of metal and plastic, including the battery, hitting an aircraft windscreen or engine or a helicopter tail rotor, could be catastrophic.

"People who buy these devices need to make sure that they know the rules and stick to them, so they don't put anyone's life in danger.

"Pilots don't want to ruin anyone's fun but if you are going to use drones the message is clear: Know the laws or expect serious consequences.

"Before taking to the air have a really good think about where you are, keep your drone in sight, consider what aircraft might be flying about and keep clear - it is your responsibility."