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Aviation: Unmanned Air Vehicles

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 62466, tabled on 31 January 2017

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what discussions he has had with (a) the Civil Aviation Authority and (b) external groups, regarding the Civil Aviation Authority's definition of a safe distance used for regulating drone activity; and how that definition compares with those used by other countries.

Answered on

3 February 2017

The Department for Transport (DfT) works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and industry to adapt and strengthen regulations and implement mitigations as drone use and the related technology evolves.

The Air Navigation Order 2016 sets out several rules which drone users must abide by. In particular, users must not fly drones with cameras within 50m of any vehicle, structure or person which is not under the control of the person in charge of the aircraft. They must also not fly drones over or within 150m of any congested area or large crowds of people.

Permitted distances will vary dependent on factors such as the structure or area that the drone is in proximity to and may also vary depending on the category of drone (e.g. for drones of a particular weight, or those with or without cameras). As there is no internationally agreed definition of “safe distance” it is difficult to make comparisons with other countries. However, we are collaborating internationally to share learning and best practice.

The Government is currently consulting on the future safe use of drones in the UK, and the DfT and CAA will consider reviewing these regulatory requirements for drone activity on the basis of the consultation responses. The consultation can be found on and closes on 15 March 2017.

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