UK government extends drone ‘no fly’ zone near airports

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The UK government has expanded the ‘no fly’ zone for drones around the country’s airports, with unmanned aerial vehicles banned from flying within 5km of runways.

Last year, the government legislated to make flying drones above 400ft or within 1km of an airport boundary illegal. This 1km restriction measure was a first step in protecting airports and aircraft while the department gathered further evidence and engaged with stakeholders through a recent consultation.

The huge disruption to flights to and from Gatwick and Heathrow in December due to drone sightings led to a reconsideration of the law. The amendment will put into law the extension of the restriction zone around protected aerodromes where drones cannot be flown without permission.

The new restriction zone will include an airport’s aerodrome traffic zone (ATZ) as well as 5km by 1km extensions from the end of runways to protect take-off and landing paths. All drones will be restricted from flying within this zone unless appropriate permission is granted.

The extended restriction zone will come into force on March 13, 2019.

The government is now preparing a new Drones Bill, which will give police powers to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft. The Home Office has also launched new stop and search powers for drone users around aerodromes, which will also be included in the bill.

These enforcement powers will complement legislation introduced last year, which will require the mandatory registration of operators and the online competency testing of remote pilots for drones over 250g. These requirements will become a legal obligation in November.

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Kirstie worked full-time on Business Airport International for over two years and is now a freelance journalist. Away from her writing commitments, you will find her blogging on her lifestyle website or training for her next charity run.

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