UK drone pilots have enjoyed some of the most relaxed regulations around the popular pastime, but now the government has proposed new regulations that will require all owners of drones over 250 grams (~8.8oz) to register their quadcopters, attend safety courses, and pass a safety test.
According to the BBC, the Department of Transport has admitted that a timeline for the regulations coming into action is undetermined, as “the nuts and bolts still have to be ironed out”. The courses will mean that pilots have to “prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations”. While the move may be unpopular with enthusiast camera drone photographers, Chinese manufacturer DJI has said it supports the change.
The USA did have such registration requirements in place itself, although these have recently been relaxed to not include “personal drones”.
“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives,” Aviation Minister Lord Martin Callanan tells the BBC.
“But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”
There has yet to be a significant incident involving a drone in the UK, although a Boeing 777 plane did come uncomfortably close within 50 meters (~164 feet) of a drone in April this year.
According to the PA news agency, last year saw 3,456 incidents reported involving drones in the UK, up from 1,237 the previous year.