UK House of Commons report issues drone regulation recommendations

October 11, 2019  - By
Photo: UK Drone report cover

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A committee of the U.K.’s House of Commons issued a report calling for greater drone regulations, including registration, drone ID transmission and geofencing around sensitive locations.

In the 73-page report “Commercial and Recreational Drone Use in the UK,” the Science and Technology Committee made numerous recommendations to the government.

In its summary, it recalls drone sightings at Gatwick Airport in December 2018, which caused “significant disruption and highlighted the need for further recognition of the substantial rise in the purchase and use of commercial and civilian drones more widely.”

Restricted Airspace

The report calls for more studies, such as on airport/drone collisions. It recommends that the government complete an assessment of the risks that drones pose to manned commercial aircraft and publish the findings by the end of 2020.

“The committee is concerned that there is no agreed position on the likely consequences of a drone-airplane impact,” the report says.

The committee also recommends temporary drone flight restriction zones around helicopter landing zones and said the government should consider geo-fencing as a compulsory measure around prisons and high security areas.

“We recognise the importance of extending Flight Restriction Zones to five kilometres. However, these restriction zones are not clearly or consistently enforced,” the report states. “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. This could be achieved by working with National Air Traffic Services on its development of an Airspace User’s Portal. This should be completed no later than summer 2020.”

Drone Registration

The report recommends that the government begin a UAV registration system, enabling identification of lawful drone operators. Those registering would also have to pass a knowledge test. It also recommends that drones be “electronically conspicuous” with some form of electronic ID within two years. Both ID and geofencing should be standard in drones, the report said, with penalties for disabling these features.

If a drone user doesn’t register, “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 states.

BVLOS and UTM tech testing

A beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) testing facility should be established so that unmanned traffic management (UTM) systems and related technologies can be tested, the report recommends.”Clear plans should be set out for this as soon as possible and further testing should begin no later than Summer 2020.”

The report concludes, “The government should produce a white paper by summer 2020 that outlines the vision for how drones will be integrated into UK communities over the coming years.”

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.