The move by UK authorities to impose tougher drone restrictions zones around airports and give police extra powers to deal with the drone threat has been welcomed by the UK pilots’ association.
The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said it has been calling for the current 1km zone to be increased to 5km for some time and that recent events at Gatwick, combined with the responses to the recent public consultation, have convinced the national government of the need to revisit the laws and make changes.
Although the drone at Gatwick was also in breach of the current 1km law, the pilots’ association thought this was too lax.
BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “The safety of the travelling public and aircraft crew should always come first. We were encouraged last year when the government announced that it was introducing new laws, including the restriction zone and mandatory registration, but we were disappointed they didn’t go far enough, and could put drones in direct conflict with commercial aircraft. The government’s announcement is a win for flight safety.
“BALPA is not anti-drone, but they absolutely need to be integrated into the airspace in a safe and sensible manner. The announcement that the Home Office will trial new counter-drone measures is also key to ensuring the kind of threat we saw at Gatwick can be safely tackled.
“BALPA co-sponsored drone impact testing with the DfT and we would be happy to be involved with testing new technology to ensure drones are flown safely and responsibly.
“We also welcome extra police powers to deal with irresponsible and dangerous drone use, including the power to force drone users to land their aircraft and show their documentation.
“However, we would have liked to have seen plans for drone registration, due to come into force in November, accelerated.”