Lord Callanan the UK Aviation Minister from the Department for Transport today launched the new proposals for drone legislation in the UK. Launching the proposals from the Sky-Futures Training Academy in Morton-In-Marsh, Gloucester with support from Sky-Futures and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service (MAWWFRS), the key message from Lord Callanan was that “Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones”.
Prior to the media interviews, the Minister heard from MAWWFRS, one of the most experienced emergency services globally using drones, on how they are being used daily to gather operational intelligence to assist in fighting fires, find missing persons and in search and rescue. MAWWFRS have been using drones since the first remote pilots were trained by Sky-Futures in September 2015, and now have 17 pilots, with the majority also having received night rated training. The Minister also heard from Sky-Futures Co-founder and CEO James Harrison on how they provide an end-to-end solution for industry and are trusted to provide software, training, services and consultancy to large engineering companies including Costain and James Fisher PLC.
The proposals unveiled today are aimed at separating the hobby drone market from the professionals which is a sensible step, and puts a greater emphasis on the private sector to set industry-specific standards, such as the Oil and Gas UK guidelines for drone use. Best practice is being pioneered in the emergency services sector with new initiatives such as by Sky-Futures trained Kent Police launching a dedicated public web page to their drone use
The consultation process, which was deliberately and rightly wide-ranging, resulted in proposals to have an app based registration scheme for hobbyists.
This is a sensible approach, although more detail is needed. Making it easy for hobbyists to fly safely and responsibly is key to the growth of this new technology.