flying drone

Civil Aviation Authority sets up drone advice website following near misses

A website offering advice to owners of drones has been set up by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) following a number of near-misses with aircraft.

The site includes a code of conduct called the Dronecode, which has been revised in a bid to make it easier to understand. 

Some 58 near misses involving drones have featured in UK Airprox Board reports over the past 12 months.

A number of European aviation associations have called for mandatory drone registration and training for their owners due to the increasing number of near-accidents with aircraft. 

A system launched in the US last year requires owners of drones over a size to register their device on a central database. 

In July an Airbus A320 passenger plane had a “very near-miss” with a drone near the Shard in central London.

The pilot estimated that the drone flew within 20m of his aircraft at an altitude of 1.5km as he approached Heathrow Airport.

In an effort to reduce the frequency of such incidents, the CAA guidance on the website features the following rules for drone users:

  • don’t fly near airports or airfields
  • remember to stay below 120m and at least 50m away from buildings and people
  • observe your drone at all times
  • never fly near aircraft
  • enjoy responsibly.

The Dronecode is backed by the Department for Transport as well as drone manufacturers and retailers, the CAA said.

Tim Johnson, policy director at the CAA, said: “Drones have significant potential and the new Dronecode, which forms the basis of establishing a responsible attitude toward drone flight amongst consumers, will help to protect the safety of the wider aviation industry.

“It will also help those expected to use drones to improve current operations, from farming to traffic, from healthcare to logistics.

“Ultimately, people must use their drones safely, and responsibly.”

Oliver Meakin, chief executive of electronics retailer Maplin, described the build-up to Christmas as a “key time for drone purchases” and said the company is working with the CAA and Nats, the UK’s national air traffic service, to make sure that their customers are aware of the Dronecode and “the importance of using their drone safely”.

Research commissioned by the CAA found that 69 per cent of drone owners and users believe there should be a recommended minimum age for flying a drone.

The same proportion of owners think the code of conduct should be distributed by retailers, compared with just 35 per cent who believe the Government is responsible for drone education.

Drone owners, users and those considering buying a drone in the next three months took part in the research, which included online interviews with over 500 people.

Dubai has been recently looking into methods to detect and track drones following a series of incidents at its main airport, which is one of the world’s busiest. 

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