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Regulation of drones could be tightened after aircraft near misses

Published 28/09/2015

Ministers are considering tightening regulations on drone use
Ministers are considering tightening regulations on drone use

Regulations on the use of drones could be tightened following a number of near misses with aircraft close to major British airports.

Ministers are considering introducing a system to track the flight path of drones to address "safety and security issues".

The UK Airprox (aircraft proximity) Board investigated seven near misses in the 12 months to July.

The regulator is also believed to be examining four others cases near airports in the past month, The Times reported.

These were close to Heathrow, London City and Birmingham.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, the UK's aviation regulator, said: " It is vital that people observe the rules when operating a drone.

"Users must understand that when putting a device into the air they are interacting with one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world - a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders, light aircraft and now drones."

Drone users can be prosecuted under the Air Navigation Order 2009 if they are flown beyond their line of sight, which is measured as 500 metres horizontally and 400ft vertically.

Rules also state that an unmanned aircraft must be flown at least 50 metres away from a person, vehicle, building or structure and not be flown within 150 metres of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill confirmed that the Government is "aware that there are safety and security issues that need to be addressed" in relation to drones.

In a Parliamentary answer, he said: "The Government is in early discussions with international partners about a drone traffic management system."

Earlier this month a man was prosecuted for flying drones over Premier League football stadiums, the Houses of Parliament and near Buckingham Palace.

Nigel Wilson, 42, from Nottingham, used the drones to shoot videos which he uploaded on to his YouTube channel.

He was fined £1,800, the first time someone has been prosecuted for using drones following a police-led operation.

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