Government Consultation on Drone Safety

Government Consultation on Drone Safety

Response to the Department of Transport Consultation:
Unlocking the UK’s High Tech Economy: Consultation on the Safe Use of Drones in the UK.

We were pleased to have been asked for our thoughts when the government consultation on safe drone use was launched last year. We’ve now had time to consider the full consultation and have submitted our response.

The consultation itself is based on various proposals relating to legislation, registration, testing, identification and traffic management. Our responses are unlikely to surprise our industry or our customers as they reflect a long-established commentary through our news pieces and social postings during the last 12 months. However, we have summarised some of the key points of our submission here:

Pilot Competency
We believe that leisure drone users should be subjected to similar tests and challenges to their knowledge as commercial users, unless they are using drones in an existing regulated environment (such as model clubs). We believe that the Drone Code could be expanded and that any new standards and qualifications should be taught through NQEs with CAA approval.

Current Guidance Documents
We believe that while the Drone Code is accessible, the current ICO guidance relating to Privacy is, by comparison, too hidden within the CCTV Data Protection Code of Practice. This makes for a fragmented picture of complementary guidance. We would like to see a more cohesive document that combines and highlights all the relevant guidance, or alternatively, we would like to see better linking between each piece of information. We would also like to see sign-posting for industry-specific guidance for asset managers and commissioners of commercial drone services.

Pilot Responsibility
In a similar way to car driving, we propose that a minimum age of 17 is introduced for all drone pilots with accompanying basic theory and situational / practical tests. In addition, we support the proposal for increasing deterrents for breaking small drone laws as set out in the Air Navigation Order, bringing them in line with driving offences.

We think that drones weighing below 1kg could be excluded from registration and that the Police rather than the CAA should hold registration details (given their speed of reaction to potential incidents). Other than these points, we fully support drone registration as set out in the consultation to improve pilot / operator accountability.

Drone Traffic Management
The consultation asks for responses on the concept of a Drone Traffic Management System. We have requested that any detail is discussed further and agreed with trade associations like ARPAS. The consultation then goes on to ask how a traffic management system could be funded. We are open to the idea of air tolls but our position is that any funding schemes should aim to ensure little or no negative impact on the growth of the commercial sector.

Please contact us for further information or comment.