The aviation expert and broadcaster Julian Bray (who is to speak at this weeks International Security Expo Conference Olympia, London, has long been supportive of much tighter Drone acquisition and use regulations, including mandatory safety awareness tests for those who intend to purchase a Drone.
High street retailers and toy shops are reporting massive demand andDrones are near the top of a must have Christmas present in 2017.
Drones in the wrong hands can be dangerous and the smallest of these drones (which can fit in the palm of a hand) can easily carry, slung underneath a micro cargo load of say a mobile phone sim card, or a sachet of an illegal narcotic, and possibly used to access prisons and detention centres.
However the government hopes drone technology will be used commercially in a variety of industries from parcel delivery to working on and around oil rigs.
The bill is supported by the pilots' union, BALPA who report 81 drone incidents so far in 2017 - up from 71 in 2016 and 29 in 2015 General secretary, Brian Strutton, said: "The proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains."
In July, in an AIRPROX near miss report, a drone flew directly over the wing of a large passenger jet with 130 passengers on board, as it came into land at London's Gatwick Airport, which a report said had put 130 lives at risk.
The proposed UK bill set to be published early in 2018 - would ensure that Drown owners of machines weighing more than 250g would both need to register them and sit a test. Owners are banned from flying them near airports or at heights above 400ft.
Police will be granted new powers under the proposals to ground and seize drones if they suspect they had been used in any criminal activity
The government is also working with drone manufacturers on technology which produces virtual barriers, to stop the machines operating in restricted areas.
But what does the CAA regulator currently think of the use of drones? Their latest statement is very to the point, but must be considered work in progress until the new legislation comes in..
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) supports the safe development of drones in the UK. Drones can bring many benefits but to achieve those we need everyone flying a drone now to do so safely.
The CAA welcomes plans to increase training for drone users and their awareness of safety rules. We have been working with Government and the aviation and drone industries to educate drone users. The CAA successfully promotes the Dronecode, which provides an easy to follow guide to UK drone rules. This is now included with most new drones sold in the UK. Since the campaign has been running the CAA reports a 50% increase in public awareness of the rules. But there is still more to be done by all parties and the CAA says it remains committed to this work.
The CAA would welcome a register of drone users that is tied to systems allowing real-time tracking and tracing of drones. This would be a significant aid to the police and others involved in enforcing drone regulations.
In addition, the CAA welcomes steps to introduce no fly zones to improve safety and are actively involved in work to define these for drones in the future.
Fitting geofencing to drones, automatically stopping them flying close to airports and other key infrastructure, is also a key element of helping to make sure drones fly safely.
Forthcoming drone rules for Europe being proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency also call for mandatory geofencing for drones.
Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and observe all relevant rules and regulations. The rules for flying drones are designed to keep all airspace users safe. It is totally unacceptable to fly drones close to airports and other aircraft and anyone flouting the rules can face severe penalties including imprisonment.
The CAA's 'drone code' provides advice on how to fly your drone safely and responsibly. You must follow the rules at all times and can find more information at:
www.dronesafe.uk Remember that you should never fly your drone above 400ft, should always keep it in your line of sight, and stay well away from airports and other aircraft.
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, ... Travel & Holiday Guru www.aviationcomment.com ... http://www.freelancedirectory.org/user.php?user=8121 ... www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment , ... Aviation / Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industries, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 ... SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476