Operators and hobbyists flying remotely operated aircraft have joined the British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) in calls for better safety regulation of the emerging drone industry.
Proposing measures such as licensing of remotely piloted aircraft based on the size and weight of the system, the organisations reacted to the recently revealed near miss between a passenger jet and a remotely operated helicopter at Heathrow airport.
“We would also like to further explore the possibilities of geo-fencing, whereby drones can be programmed to avoid airports and other restricted areas," the organisations, including Balpa, the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems, the British Model Flying Association, drone training specialists EuroUSC and Resource Group, wrote in a statement.
"Drones are a growing technology, which we believe is here to stay. There are significant potential economic, technological and societal benefits from this emerging field, but safety of people both in the air and on the ground must come first.”
The associations pledged to work together with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ensure that as the number of drone owners increases, the technology is safely integrated into the UK airspace.
"Members of the public who buy small drones should be made fully aware of the legal requirements when flying them and these rules should be enforced by the CAA,” the statement said.
"It is still early days for this technology so it's important to get the right safety measures in place now.”
The group proposed holding a safe drone summit for users, manufacturers, regulators and the government in 2015 to help turn the UK into a leading safe drone zone.
The organisations expressed their concern about new drones taking to the sky after Christmas as people will be given the devices as presents.