UK Government tightens drone restrictions near airports

posted on 20th February 2019 by Justin Burns

The UK Government has followed on from new laws last year restricting the use of drones and bringing forward a new drone-users register – and announced new legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports banning drones from flying within 5km of runways.

The new exclusion zone will be increased by several kilometres, including banning drone flight within 5km of runway ends. The enlarged zone it says will better protect the UK’s airports from those misusing drones, and will come into force on 13 March 2019.

Work to progress a new Drones Bill is also underway and will be introduced in due course. It will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within 5km of an airport.

The move is aimed at helping them to tackle disruption such as that seen at Gatwick Airport in December, when thousands of flights were cancelled after a drone was flown over the airport for a 36-hour periodl

It will also give additional new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft — including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.

The government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have also announced a new partnership with the retailer Jessops, as part of a national campaign to increase public awareness of the rules around flying drones.

Working with the CAA, the government is dialling up a campaign to help educate the public about responsible drone use, including issuing a digital toolkit to airports to help them raise awareness of the new rules.

Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling said: “The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe.

“We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place. Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.”