UK

Drone No-Fly Zone Extended At RAF Bases And Airports

It comes after the military were called in to deal with major disruption caused by drones at Gatwick Airport last year.

The drone no-fly zone around airports has been extended to protect aircraft at Royal Air Force bases and airports.

The new legislation bans drones from being flown within five kilometres (3.1 miles) of the end of a runway without permission.

Previously, only a 1km (0.6 miles) no-fly zone was in place.

The no-fly zone extension offers an additional layer of protection for RAF stations, which already have restrictions in place prohibiting the use of drones.

Drone sightings at London Gatwick in December caused around 1,000 flights to be cancelled or diverted over 36 hours, affecting more than 140,000 passengers in the run-up to Christmas.

Specialist military equipment was deployed to try and bring an end to the chaos.

'Military capability' at Gatwick Airport in December.
Some of the military capability deployed to Gatwick Airport in December.

The Israeli-developed Drone Dome system is believed to be among the technology used at the airport.

A drone sighting at London Heathrow just a month later also saw military equipment and personnel deployed.

The incidents resulted on Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson calling on every UK airport to buy anti-drone equipment.

Mr Williamson said "it wouldn't be right" to expect the military to intervene after every drone sighting.

In 2018, there were 125-near-misses reported between drones and aircraft - an increase of 34% from 2017.

It compares to a total of six incidents recorded in 2014.

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."

Drone disruption at Gatwick caused chaos for around 140,000 people.
Drone disruption at Gatwick caused chaos for around 140,000 people.

Anyone caught recklessly or negligently endangering an aircraft with a drone can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The intentional use of a device to commit an act of violence at an airport which could cause death, serious personal injury or endanger safe operations could result in life in prison under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

The Government is drafting a Drones Bill which will help the police catch those misusing the technology, including the ability to access data stored on a drone with a warrant, and stop and search powers over drone users near airfields.

Aviation Minister Liz Sugg will meet drone manufacturers to discuss how to tackle criminal misuse of their products.

The Home Office is also reviewing the UK's approach to countering the malicious use of drones.