This week, the UK will expand its drone no-fly radius around major airports from one kilometer to five kilometers (about three miles).
The UK is reacting to the numerous instances where drones were able to ground flights and shut down major airports for a notable period of time. The first incident was back in December 2018 near Gatwick Airport. Two drones were seen flying near Gatwick Airport, resulting in the airport being shut down for more than a day. It was hectic for many of the passengers that would have to postpone their holiday travels. In total, more than a thousand flights and 140,000 passengers were affected. The search is still ongoing to find the drone-operating culprits.
Additionally, flights were stopped for about an hour at Heathrow a month later in January 2019 after a drone was seen close by.
UK’s response to incidents is to pass stricter drone laws
The UK has received some criticism for not having comprehensive drone laws when compared to places like the US. It seems that could be changing now, however.
Besides both UK airports investing in anti-drone systems this year, the UK government is working on a Drones Bill. This bill will give police more power to stamp out drone misuse. Ultimately, the police would have permission to stop and search people suspected of using drones harmfully near airports. Also, the bill will grant police the power to access data stored on drones. And what will happen to those that are caught endangering flights with their drones? They’ll receive a five-year prison sentence.
Additionally, as of November 2019, anyone flying a drone that weighs over 250 grams will have to take on online safety test and register with the UK’s aviation authority.
It seems these incidences have brought forth stricter drone laws in the UK. That is good news for the overall safety of its citizens.