Citizens of the UK are seeing drones everywhere these days. Even though there have been more confirmed sightings of the Loch Ness monster than images recorded of the drones supposedly running riot at London’s airports.
Still, as the fallout from Gatwick continues and events unravel, police remain adamant that a drone was involved and are searching for those responsible.
They may well be right. We may never know. But last week departures at Heathrow airport were briefly grounded after more drone sightings were reported.
It would seem that the public is on high alert. Which is understandable. The headlines surrounding the dangers of drones and ‘near-misses’ with aircraft have been relentless. And besides, with Brexit looming, we need something to take out minds off things.
Grounded! My @standardnews #Gatwick cartoon pic.twitter.com/nXEfqUeO6V
— Christian Adams (@Adamstoon1) December 20, 2018
Coventry Council backtracks anti-drone measures after industry mobilization
Partly in response to the incidents in London, Coventry council – responsible for the city in England’s West Midlands – were said to be mulling over a total ban of drone flights in public parks and a ban on recreational use in the city. The council had also proposed charging commercial pilots to operate.
The decisions were deferred following hundreds of complaints. No doubt pilots from all over saw it as a sign of things to come.
ACT NOW to protect drones from prohibition in Coventry!
Coventry County is proposing a Drone Policy to ban recreational use in the city.
Add your voice here: https://t.co/FvnldOlHn9 pic.twitter.com/5cdkKVAdGH
— Node Europe (@NodeEurope) January 7, 2019
The ability of stakeholders to mobilize at short notice is a huge positive. Particularly after the UK Government released its drone regulation consultation report this week and confirmed that a tiny minority of the 5,000 respondents were commercial drone operators.
#Coventry council has deferred a controversial plan to ban drones in parks following hundreds of complaints. Drones expert @kerryblakeman spoke to me after the decision #LDReporter pic.twitter.com/bPpUmPh1W3
— Tom Davis (@tadavisLDR) January 10, 2019
DJI: Let’s not jump to conclusions
In a welcome intervention from the drone industry’s biggest name, DJI has released a statement urging caution from those evaluating reports of drone incidents.
Implicitly referencing the two incidents in London, the statement says:
To date, none of these reports have been confirmed, and there is no proof that any of these alleged incidents occurred. Despite the lack of evidence, new sightings have been reported at more airports, raising the prospect that new reports are being spurred by publicity from past incidents.
DJI urges caution in evaluating initial reports of drone incidents, because many of them turn out to be wrong. The true culprits have included a plastic bag (UK, 2016), structural failure (Mozambique, 2017), a bat (Australia, 2017) and a balloon (New Zealand, 2018). While there have been isolated cases of drones being flown improperly, drones have amassed an admirable safety record around the world, and the overwhelming majority of drone pilots want to fly safely and responsibly.
”This recent rash of unconfirmed drone sightings may reflect the power of suggestion more than actual use of drones at airports,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs.
“As more airports and airlines use drones for their own inspection, surveying and security purposes, aviation stakeholders must determine how to respond to drone sightings in ways that help ensure safety but cause the least disruption. DJI stands ready to assist the industry with this important work.”