According to a transport minister, there have been more than 50 near-misses between drones and manned aircraft, including this one at Gatwick Airport, during the last twelve months in the United Kingdom. Drone users will face new restrictions starting in 2018. A new proposed law will likely give the police new powers to land drones suspected of involvement in criminal activity and will restrict drone use near airports.
Proposed law set to restrict drone use
The proposed legislation is backed by the British Airline Pilot’s Association, which in collaboration with the Military Aviation Authority, researched the vulnerability of airplane and helicopter windscreens to drone strikes.
The issue of near-misses was raised in the House of Lords, where Lady Randerson said:
“There are hundreds of thousands of drones now in operation – and there were over 50 near misses reported this year alone on aircraft. The government needs to develop a much greater sense of urgency in dealing with this serious problem that will lead to an accident if it is not controlled.”
Baroness Sugg, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of the Department for Transport acknowledged the concerning results of the research and the need for the government to act.
New drone code
According to an article in BBC News, members of the government understand the seriousness of the issue and are taking action. One of the steps to mitigate the risk of a done colliding with a manned aircraft is the introduction of a new code, which basically is an educational awareness campaign as well as a drone assist app to make people aware of the rules and regulations and to improve the safety of drone use.
Other parliament members have expressed their growing concerns over a possible major incident involving a drone and resulting in loss of life or serious injuries. Lady Sugg said she was “aware that the expectation of an incident is high” and that as more and more drones are being sold the government needs to take action.
Drone and drone pilot identification
Other questions were raised related to the illegal use of drones to deliver contraband to prison inmates and how perpetrators of illegal drone use would be identified and caught as well as the penalties involved. To which the minister replied:
“It’s sometimes a challenge to link an operator to a drone. We’re trying to help address this by bringing forward a registration system and we’re also investigating electronic identification. We’re looking at powers for the police to require the production of registration ID and documents for drone users. Also, that they will be able to require a drone user to land their drone and also to search for and seize a drone when there’s a reasonable belief that a crime has taken place.”
It sounds like DJI is on the right track with their Aeroscope solution. Maybe they should reach out to Baroness Sugg and launch a test soon.