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Unmanned Air Vehicles

Question for Department for Transport

UIN HL5744, tabled on 1 February 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they plan to take for the protection of air passengers following the recent report of the UK Airprox Board of four near-miss incidents involving drones at UK airports.

Answered on

10 February 2016

The safety of the public is of the uttermost importance to the Government and whilst I recognise the potential significant economic benefits that drones can have to the UK, it is vital that they are operated safely and in a way that does not put members of the public and other aircraft at risk.

There are existing regulations for users of small unmanned aerial vehicles. Article 166 of the UK Air Navigation order 2009 (ANO) requires operators of small unmanned aircraft to maintain direct, unaided visual contact with the aircraft sufficient to monitor its flight path in relation to other aircraft, persons, vehicles, vessels and structures for the purposes of avoiding collisions. It also states that an operator may only fly the aircraft if they are reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made.

In addition, Article 138 of the ANO 2009, which also applies to small unmanned aircraft, states that “a person must not recklessly or negligently cause or permit an aircraft to endanger any person or property. This includes persons within another aircraft, and of course the aircraft that those persons are within.

We are talking to both the Civil Aviation Authority and airports to find technical solutions to the problems around airport, these include mandated geo-fencing or frequency jammers.

The Civil Aviation Authority is undertaking activities to raise awareness of the basic safety requirements, including an ongoing ‘Dronecode’ safety awareness campaign, issuing safety leaflets at the point of sale, publishing an animated video on their website, and running ‘small UAS’ Risk and Hazard workshops with industry as part of the Mid Air Collision Programme.

The department is leading efforts with international bodies to develop a stringent regulatory framework focusing on safety. We are currently undertaking public dialogues ahead of a public consultation which will help to inform a government strategy to be published this year. The consultation will look at a range of options including regulation, registration and licensing options and a database to increase transparency on the use of drones for the general public.