UK extends drone exclusion zone around airports from March 13

The British Government has issued new legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around UK airports, banning drones from flying within 5km of runways.

The new exclusion zone will be increased by several kilometres, including banning drone flight within 5km of runway ends and will come into force on 13 March.

Work to progress new drones legislation is also underway and will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within 5km of an airport — helping them to tackle disruption such as that seen at Gatwick in December. It will also give additional new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft — including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone with a warrant.

The country’s government department responsible for security is also reviewing the UK’s approach to countering the malicious use of drones, and said it was considering how best to protect the full range of the UK’s critical national infrastructure — including testing and evaluating technology to counter drones.

British Airline Pilots’ Association flight safety chief Dr Rob Hunter said the pilots organisation was pleased that the government was bringing forward legislation to increase the drone no fly zone around airports from the current 1km to 5km radius.

“This increase is what we’ve been calling for in order to ensure there is a safe separation between commercial aircraft and legal drone operations. This, along with the introduction of suitable detection measures, represents a significant improvement to the safety of manned aircraft around airports.

“We remain concerned that protections for helicopters are still lacking as they operate at low levels away from the protected zone around airports and in areas where drones are frequently flown. We hope the Department for Transport will take a similar safety-first approach to looking at this aspect.”