A leading supplier of drones is warning people that new laws coming into effect from January mean they might not be able to legally fly their Christmas presents.
The rules mean pilots will need to complete a certificate of competency to allow them to fly a drone weighing more than 250g in most locations.
With drones a big seller this Christmas because they can be used while other hobbies are banned due to Covid restrictions, there are likely to be many who will fall foul of the law.
iRed, the UK’s leading drone experts, said most people were wholly unaware of the new laws, and breaching them could land them with a criminal record and a £1,000 fine.
Achieving the certificate means pilots can take their drones within 50 metres of other people and buildings.
Without it they can’t fly within 150 metres and neither are they permitted to operate within residential, commercial, industrial or recreational areas.
From January 1 the Civil Aviation Authority is adopting the new EASA regulations, which requires drone pilots to have the A2 Certificate of Competency.
It is a qualification that takes seven hours of e-learning and teaches the correct way to fly.
Ray Faulkner, managing director of iRed based in Emsworth, Hampshire, and a former airline pilot, said there were around 250,000 hobby drone pilots in the UK.
He said: “With everything that’s gone on in 2020 it’s no surprise that these new rules are not well known about.
“Many people will be getting drones and model aircraft as Christmas presents, which from January 1 will all have to be registered if they weigh more than 250 grams.
“It will also be illegal for drone pilots to fly them within 150 metres of other people or in commercial, industrial or recreational areas unless they pass the qualification.
“This means parks and beaches and other common areas to fly drones won’t be available to them.
“Unless someone has access to a large area of private land, they will need to have the certificate.
“It lasts for five years and is likely to cost less than £200, although we are offering a £99 deal in January.
“The investment is important because unqualified pilots could be fined up to £1,000, and if they were to injure someone the sentence would be much stricter.
“There are only around 166,000 drones registered at the moment and that number will increase on Christmas day when people open their presents.
“The rules also affect children who must register and receive a flyer ID, which is available through a free online test.
“With drones becoming more advanced and more common the regulations will become tighter, and it’s far better to get on the right side of the law now.”
For more details contact Ed Baker, Senior Account Director at Deep South Media on 01202 534487 or 07788392965
Notes to editors:
Founded in 2002, iRed are the UK’s industry-leading experts in thermal imaging, remote sensing and specialist drone operations. Based in Hampshire, their innovative team provide world-class drones, cameras, training and support to help revolutionise how businesses operate.