New legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around UK airports came into force on Wednesday (13 March 2019) meaning it is now illegal to fly a drone within 5km of an airport, with major penalties for those who break the law.
The government has acted to bring the law change in ahead of a new Drones Bill which will give police significantly increased powers to deal with those using drones illegally. Penalties for breaking the law on misusing drones range from fines to life imprisonment if the device is intentionally used to cause violence.
Drone users can only fly within the restriction zones if they have the correct permission from air traffic control or the airport.
New legislation has been brought in following the chaos and disruption at Gatwick Airport before Christmas when flights were suspended for 36 hours due to drone activity and aircraft were unable to take-off or land. Airport airside operations were severely impacted during the incident.
Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling said: “The UK has been consistently at the forefront of legislation to tackle drone misuse.
“All drone users should be aware that flying a drone within 5km of an airport or over 400ft is a serious criminal act, one which could put lives at risk and risks penalties ranging from significant fines to a life sentence.”
On 20 March 2019, the Aviation Minister Liz Sugg will meet with global leading drone manufacturers to discuss how to tackle criminal drone use. They are expected to discuss a range of topics including counter-drone technology and software – such as ‘geofencing’ – that could be built into drones at the point of manufacture.