Conscious of a lack of awareness about drone usage rules, an increasing number of drone incidents and in anticipation of many more drones taking to the skies this Christmas, the UK has issued revised guidance for consumer drone users. The "Dronecode" is designed to be a simple way for consumers to fly drones safely and legally.
The five points of the code, the first letters of which spell out the word "drone," are: don't fly near airports or airfields, remember to stay below 400 ft (120 m) and at least 150 ft (50 m) away from buildings and people, observe your drone at all times, never fly near aircraft and enjoy responsibly. It is backed by leading aviation players, drone retailers and manufacturers, and the Department for Transport.
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The guidance is issued by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority and is based on its regulations that were first put into law in 2010. It was was conceived following research into drone-user behaviour, attitudes towards drones and the responsible use of drones.
The report found that 91 percent of people asked believed the Dronecode was important, but only 39 percent had heard of it prior to the research. Similar efforts have been made to educate consumer drone users in US, such as via the Know Before You Fly scheme and B4UFLY smartphone app.
"Drones are an incredible, inspiring technology but it's vital that people are using them safely," says Andrew Sage of air traffic control provider NATS. "With the number of reported drone incidents on the rise, it's important that people understand their legal obligations and fly safe, having fun whilst ensuring other users of the UK's airspace aren't put at risk."
The research also found that 61 percent of people believe drones would be useful for traffic monitoring and power line inspection, 58 percent for agriculture and 56 percent for emergency health services. Only 40 percent felt drones could be useful for donor organ transport, despite the recent launch of a blood-delivery service in Rwanda that could demonstrate the potential for organ delivery.