Drones to be banned from flying within 1km of UK airports

The UK is introducing new drone laws that will come into effect on 30 July which will restrict them from being flown within one kilometre of airport boundaries and from flying above 400 feet.

The Department of Transport (DoT) said it will bring added protection for passengers and it is bringing in height limits to help make sure drones are used safely as the sector grows.

The DoT added the laws are being tightened following a year-on-year increase in the report of drone incidents with aircraft – with 93 in 2017 – and the measures will reduce the possibility of damage to windows and engines of aircraft and helicopters.

The new laws will also require owners of drones weighing 250 grams or more to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and for drone pilots to take an online safety test to ensure the UK’s skies are safe from irresponsible flyers. These requirements will come into force on 30 November 2019.

The CAA and airports will have the power to make exceptions to these restrictions in specific circumstances.

Gatwick Airport chief operating officer, Chris Woodroofe said: “We welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides as it leaves no doubt that anyone flying a drone must stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.

“Drones open up some exciting possibilities but must be used responsibly. These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public.”

The DoT said in addition to these measures a draft Drones Bill will be published this summer, which will give police more tailored powers to intervene on the spot if drones are being used inappropriately.

Drone operators will also eventually be required to use apps – so they can access the information needed to make sure any planned flight can be made safely and legally.

The new laws are being made via an amendment to the Air Navigation Order 2016.