Government considers expanding drone exclusion zone around airports after Gatwick chaos

Michael Searles
Drone in Flight
Source: Getty

The government will consider expanding the drone exclusion zone around UK airports from 1km to 5km in the wake of the disruption at Gatwick Airport just before Christmas.

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles is set to be further restricted following a consultation on drones, to which the government will issue a response before the end of February.

Ministers will also publish a draft bill by May with new proposals in a bid to limit the increasing problems that drones are causing aircrafts.

The number of incidents reported to the aircraft safety's independent board that “involved objects believed to be drones” rose from six to 93 between 2014 and 2017, according to the consultation.

One of the proposals being considered is from pilots' union, Balpa, which wants the drone exclusion perimeter of 1km to be expanded to 5km, just six months after it was brought in.

“A drone at 400ft, 1km away from an airport, is still directly in the flight path and that is plainly not safe and yet is allowed under the new legislation,” the union have said. “Therefore, Balpa will continue to argue for a drone exclusion zone around airports of 5km in the interests of safety.”

It is also expected that the drones bill will increase police powers and their ability to enforce the law relating to drone use, such as seizing equipment and accessing relevant data in relation to crime scenes and large events at risk of terror attacks.

The government also confirmed last year that drone users will be required to register their vehicle and take an online safety test from November 2019 onwards.

Gatwick and Heathrow have both spent millions of pounds since the Christmas disruption in order to combat drones in the future.