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New drone rules to be introduced

People flying drones which weigh 250g or more will have to register their device with the Civil Aviation Authority.

A database of drone users will be launched under new laws being introduced to the Commons on Wednesday.

People flying drones which weigh 250g or more will have to register with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Drone pilots will be required to take an online safety test under the new legislation, amid an increase in the number of near misses with aircraft.

We need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers Baroness Sugg

The new rules will also ban drones from flying above 400ft, and within one kilometre (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries.

These restrictions are included in the CAA’s existing Drone Code, but will now become law.

Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said: “We are seeing fast growth in the numbers of drones being used, both commercially and for fun.

“Whilst we want this industry to innovate and grow, we need to protect planes, helicopters and their passengers from the increasing numbers of drones in our skies.

“These new laws will help ensure drones are used safely and responsibly.”

The number of incidents involving drones and aircraft has risen from six events in 2014 to 93 last year.

The new rules are aimed at reducing the possibility of damage to the windows and engines of planes and helicopters.

Gatwick Airport chief operating officer Chris Woodroofe said: “We welcome the clarity that today’s announcement provides as it leaves no doubt that anyone flying a drone must stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields.

“Drones open up some exciting possibilities but must be used responsibly. These clear regulations, combined with new surveillance technology, will help the police apprehend and prosecute anyone endangering the travelling public.”

Drone users who flout the new height and airport boundary restrictions could result in an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

Anyone who fails to register or sit the safety tests could face fines of up to £1,000.

In addition to these measures, a draft Drones Bill will be published this summer, which will give police more tailored powers to intervene on the spot if drones are being used inappropriately.

Drone operators will also eventually be required to use apps so they can access information to ensure planned flights can be made safely and legally.

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