£1,000 fine if drone pilots, including kids, don’t register, pass a theory test and get a £9-a-year licence
Tough new laws are swinging into place to clamp down on the problems associated with the illegal use of drones.
From the end of November, it will be a mandatory requirement for drone pilots (including children) to register any drone or model aircraft weighing between 250g (9oz) and 20kg (44lbs). Registered drone owners have to be over 18 years old.
So how does the scheme work in practice? Well, drone pilots will need to complete an online 20-question test to receive a pilot ID for free.
In order to pass, drone pilots need to score 16 out 20, and there is no limit to the amount of times a pilot can take the test.
Children under 13 must have permission from a parent or guardian before they can register as a drone pilot.
The drone pilot ID must be renewed every three years.
At the same time, from 30 November all drones need to be registered, and this will cost £9 per year.
The CAA will then issue a unique code to each drone. Doing so, it hopes, will help reunite pilots with lost drones.
“With over a quarter of drone owners admitting to having lost their drone, this service at dronesreunited.uk will be able to help reconnect owners with their lost devices thanks to the new UK drone registration system,” said the CAA.
Lost drones are apparently a “serious problem for flyers, as new research reveals that over a quarter of drone owners (26 percent) have lost a drone.”
The study found that drones are most at risk of being lost due to flight malfunctions – with more than half (51 percent) of misplaced drones going missing due to battery loss, poor signal, or a technology failure. And in a quarter of cases it’s down to pilot error, said the CAA.
Most worryingly for drone owners, when a drone is lost there is no clear procedure for getting it back.
“Drones Reunited is a UK-first – an essential service that is only possible thanks to the drone registration scheme that is also launched today,” explained Jonathan Nicholson, assistant director of communications at the CAA.
“The service is about giving something back to the community, helping responsible drone owners and operators to be reunited with lost drones and continue flying,” said Nicholson. “Our aim is for the Drones Reunited platform to become an essential service for the drone community – the first port of call for anyone who has lost, or found, a drone.”
In September the police said that the drone disruption at Gatwick airport last Christmas, was probably an inside job, with the rogue pilots having “detailed knowledge” of Gatwick when they used two drones to shut down the airport for 30 hours.
Days before Christmas, Gatwick airport had to take the unprecedented decision to close its single runway over a three day period, after drones were spotted.
Every time attempts were made to re-open the runaway, drones appeared once again.
The multiple appearances of a number of mysterious drones delayed the Christmas get away of 140,000 passengers and disrupted 1,000 flights.
Despite an extensive police search and the use of military systems, as well as £50,000 reward, the unidentified drone operators were not caught.
A couple were arrested, but were released without charge. The police also reportedly carried out 1,200 house-to-house inquiries and took 222 witness statements in a police operation costing £790,000.
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