Drone pilots face tougher laws to curb dangerous flying

Farmers who operate drones have until 30 November to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after new legislation was introduced to combat nuisance flights.

The mandatory registration, which costs £9 a year, applies to owners of drones or model aircraft weighing 250g to 20kg.

Failure to register could incur legal action, including a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal conviction.

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The CAA has warned in some cases of dangerous, nuisance flying, the operator could face prison.

Drone and Model Aircraft Code

  • Pass an online test to get a flyer ID if you want to fly a drone or model aircraft
  • Register for an operator ID if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft
  • Label any drones and model aircraft you’re responsible for with your operator ID

However, there are exemptions to the new rules for certain drone pilots already registered with recognised flying associations.

The exempt organisations are:

  • The UK Drone Association (Arpas UK)
  • British Model Flying Association
  • Scottish Aeromodellers’ Association
  • Large Model Association
  • FPV UK – a drone and model aircraft association

More information can be found on the CAA website.

In addition to the registration requirement, drone operators must successfully complete a free, online education package.

The package includes a 20-question multiple-choice theory test on flying safely and legally. While it is free the test must be taken and passed every three years.

Once registration and training are completed, the CAA will issue a certificate and an operator ID number. This must be applied to the drone or unmanned aircraft.

NFU chief land management adviser Sam Durham said: “The changes to the regulation do appear to potentially limit some of the issues farmers experience when members of the public use drones over their land.

“For example, these changes should technically limit the incidents of invasion of privacy, aerial trespass and potentially livestock worrying as a result of drones spooking livestock.”