The Christmas present that could cost you an extra £2,500

The Christmas present that could cost you an extra £2,500

If a drone is on your Christmas present list – then make sure you are flying it legally or risk a hefty fine.

And, says Wilkin Chapman legal expert Tom Hickingbottom, the same applies to model aircraft as regulations come into force at the end of this month, requiring operators to comply with rules designed to improve machines’ safety.

Sparked by well-publicised drone incidents, one which caused the complete closure of Gatwick airport, the Government’s new Drone and Model Aircraft Code has been published.

Running alongside this new code are mandatory regulations, which come into force on November 30 and apply to drones and model aircraft that weigh more than 250g.  Failure to comply could mean a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal conviction. To meet the requirements operators must:

• Pay an annual £9 fee;

• Pass an online test to get a flyer ID;

• Register for an operator ID if you’re responsible for a drone or model aircraft. Only Over 18s can register as an operator. Registration lasts for a year and must be renewed;

• Label any drones and model aircraft you’re responsible for with your operator ID;

• Children under 13 can only register as a flyer with a parent or guardian present. Flyer registration lasts for three years.

In advising people of their responsibilities, Tom says operators should check machines’ weights, apply for flyer or operator IDs, clearly label drones or model aircraft, ensure anyone flying a drone has a flyer ID if they are not the owner, read the Code and check before flying.

Unless you are a member of certain flying associations, the new regulations apply from November 30 and anyone planning a flight after that date needs to act promptly to ensure they are on the right side of the law.

“As we know the reaction to the use of drones, and the perception of them, has been extremely mixed. On one hand we see them lauded for commercial use benefits, for example in the agricultural sector where their use has been pioneering, while on the other hand, we see the consequences of their apparent misuse,” he said.

“It can only be hoped that in bringing these regulations into place, operators are more aware of the real dangers of misuse or flying in areas that could cause serious danger,” added Tom.

The new Drone and Model Aircraft Code can be found online at https://register-drones.caa.co.uk/drone-code

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