BALPA issues drone warning

BALP has today reminded drone operators that they could face jail if they fly too close to airports.

New legislation comes in to force today which sees the no-fly zone around airports increased from 1km to 5km and gives police greater powers. Those who ignore the rules could face hefty fines and prison sentences.

BALPA has welcomed the change, which it campaigned for, and believes it is one step towards the safe integration of such devices in to UK airspace.

But the union says it’s not the end of the story and further action is still needed. It is calling for the government to put in place measures to protect helicopters which operate at low levels away from the protected zone around airports and in areas where drones are frequently flown.

At the same time BALPA continues to work with the government as it drafts its drones bill and is pressing for it to deliver on the promise of a drone registration scheme this year.

BALPA is also urging the government and regulators to encourage airports to invest in drone detection and disabling measures.

Head of Flight safety at the British Airline Pilots Association, Dr Rob Hunter said: “From today, drone users need to understand that that flying a drone within 5km of an airport or over 400ft is not only putting lives at risk but is also against the law. If you are planning to fly a drone you must do so responsibly. If you don’t you will face significant fines or even time in prison.

“This new legislation, which BALPA campaigned for, is a step towards the safe integration of drones in to UK airspace. But the puzzle isn’t complete just yet and now is not the time to become complacent.

“The government must ensure it delivers its promised drone registration scheme and looks at protections for helicopters, which operate in similar airspace to drones away from the no-fly zones around airports.

“We hope the Department for Transport will take a similar safety-first approach to looking at this aspect.”

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