A new report published by the U.K. House of Commons on drones suggests that the U.K. should stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency after Brexit, and adopt EASA’s international standards for drone regulation. The report – which is at times critical of the U.K. Government’s drone policies – also says that the U.K. Government must “stay ahead of the curve” on drones.
“As aviation crosses borders and the use of drones is taking place internationally, it is important that the UK engages in best practice and knowledge sharing with other countries,” says the report. “The Government should continue to pursue its ambition to stay in the European Aviation Safety Agency after Brexit. Further, the Government should seek to secure international agreement on international mandatory standards for drones.”
The detailed report covers all aspects of the drone industry: from recreational flyers to counter UAV strategies. Among the most signficant points raised:
- While the U.K. plans to release a “Drones Bill” later this year, the report says that the Bill does not go far enough towards drone integration.
- The report exhorts the government to come up with a plan for requesting flight in restricted airspace.
The lack of a standardised process results in inconsistent denials and permissions being granted to those applying. This is unacceptable. The Government should commission the production of a standardised and unified system through which drone operators can request access to Flight Restriction Zones.
- The report says that drone registration is critical, and that a knowledge test be part of the process. While it proposes that community based organizations and flying clubs be allowed to register as a single entity, it also suggests that pilots not registering be penalized.
…the Government should acknowledge that the scheme will do little to mitigate the risks from nefarious drone users who will simply bypass registration and testing. We recommend a sliding scale of penalties for failure to register, starting with a warning, and culminating in a fine and a prison sentence.
- The report acknowledges that public perception about drones is a problem in the U.K. – and says that the government must take action to improve it.
There is a notable distrust towards drones among the general public that needs addressing if the UK is to maximise the opportunities presented by drones. The Government should act to improve public perception and awareness of drones by launching a public awareness campaign, no later than Summer 2020, that highlights the opportunities presented by drones and informs the public on the reality of the risks posed by drones.