Need for tougher drone regulations: BALPA

Need for tougher drone regulations: BALPA

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Aeryon Scout micro VTOL UAV - Source WikipediaUK, October 27, 2014: The number of organisations given permits to use drones in the skies over Britain, including police forces and film-makers, has increased by 80% since the beginning of the year, claims a report published by The Guardian.

The report quoted figures released by Britain’s aviation regulator and said that 359 authorised operators are using drones weighing under 20kg for work purposes.

Earlier this week, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) urged the UK Parliamentary Committee to frame tougher rules to govern drone use, adding that the current regulations are inadequate.

“Even a small RPAS [remotely piloted aircraft system] could cause serious injury, or even death, if control of it is lost. It is not just the weight of the device that could cause injury (imagine being hit on the head by a frozen chicken dropped from fifty feet), they are, of course, equipped with numerous spinning blades. The option of mandating insurance for both commercial and non-commercial RPAS operations should be considered,” the association stated in a written submission to the media.

Further, the statement said that ‘public in the UK do not seem to be as concerned about having more CCTV cameras than other countries but if data starts to be collected on individuals using RPAS this may well become a serious issue. There may be a need to introduce specific privacy regulations for RPAS as the majority of rules will have been written when methods of collecting information on people did not include close aerial surveillance.’

According to the Guardian report, since 2010, the Civil Aviation Authority has required operators of small unmanned aircraft used for aerial work and those equipped for data acquisition and/or surveillance to obtain permission. Organisations on the list currently include three police forces (Staffordshire, Sussex and the PSNI), the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), the BBC, universities and a large number of film production and photography companies.

Source: The Guardian, The Independent and UK Parliament