Own a drone in the UK? It will soon be time to pass your safety test

Drones owners may be affected by new legislation being introduced today in the House of Commons.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Drone owners in the United Kingdom may have to pass a safety test and register with officials due to new laws now being considered.

In the House of Commons on Wednesday, lawmakers will introduce new legislation which would be enforced between 30 July and 30 November this year to control the emerging drone hobbyist industry.

After a slew of near-misses between drones and commercial aircraft, as well as safety concerns roused by drone deployment near airports and prisons, government officials have decided that changes are necessary.

As reported by the BBC, drone users in the UK that own devices may have to sit online safety tests and should their drones weigh over 250g -- which many do when cameras are installed -- they will also have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The UK government also wishes to create "no-fly" zones in sensitive areas by enforcing a flight ban within 1km of airports and potentially other locations.

Under the terms of the proposed legislation, drone enthusiasts which do not conform could face fines of up to £1,000. Serious infractions could result in up to five years behind bars and unlimited fines.

The problems faced by irresponsible drone use by the few have prompted the changes. The UK's Ministry of Justice (MOJ) launched a competition last year for technological ideas to stem the flow of contraband drops behind prison walls through drones, and the UK's busiest airport, London Heathrow, has experienced a passenger plane being struck by a drone on landing.

See also: How to register your drone (it's the law... again)

London Gatwick was also forced to close its runway and divert flights in 2017 after a drone was spotted too close to the airfield, causing disruption for thousands of passengers and untold cost to carriers.

Despite the challenges lawmakers face, the UK drone industry is booming.

According to a recent report by PwC, over 600 jobs are expected to be created due to the industry and over 27,000 drones are predicted to be in UK airspace by 2030.

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