Drone flyers in the United Kingdom be warned: change is coming very soon. This ranges from requiring a license, registration, fees, and more.
Annual Fees and Registrations
Starting next month (Dec 2019), owners must pay annual registration fees as well as take online tests before they can fly their drones. The registration rules are nearly universal; only drones below the 250-gram mark are exempted from the paperwork. This would only include mini drones built for indoor use. Larger drones on the other hand require paperwork – unless its owner wants to pay thousands in penalties.
Annual fees amount to a mere £9, but the main focus is drones having proper identification. This involves special license numbers (and plates) for each drone registered, similar to a car. Owners must also take competency tests (similar to driving classes) before they can take their drones to the skies.
A Shift in Accountability
This is a massive change in drone handling in the United Kingdom. With drone flying being more and more popular, the number of incidents involving improper drone use also skyrocketed. It is estimated that over 100,000 people in the country alone would have to register their drones.
With registrations and drone linked directly to their owners, officials hope that this can increase accountability while flying. Incidents involving drones flying near airports, over crowds, and over private residences have risen dramatically since drones became more available.
License to Fly
To counter these drone sightings, areas now have ways to disable drones from far away. These include signal jammers, nets, and even battering ram drones. With drones as evidence, and assuming it is a registered drone, the owner can be found.
Flying a drone is not the same as flying a toy. It is powerful enough to crash into planes and cause significant damage. Flying one requires a responsible owner – and these new registrations ensure that.