This conference discussed UK drones policy, the future regulatory system, and opportunities for commercial application of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the UK.
Taking place in the context of the publication of the draft Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Bill, discussion focused on current and future regulatory developments affecting commercial and civil drone operations in the UK.
The conference provided an opportunity to examine what more is needed in terms of technical solutions and enforcement powers to avoid further disruption from rogue use of drones, such as those seen at UK airports in the preceding year - including airspace restrictions, detection and counter-drone technologies.
It followed the adoption of EU rules on drone operations earlier in the year, and the CAA’s recent publication of plans for their implementation in the UK within the next year.
The conference also presented an opportunity to assess the implications of the new mandatory Drone Registration and Education Scheme - which came into effect on 30th November 2019 and requires UK drone pilots to register their details with the CAA, pass an online test, and pay an annual fee.
There was also discussion on the government’s response to the Taking Flight: The Future of Drones in the UK consultation, which set out:
- The case for tighter controls around drone use;
- Plans to develop policy related to the flight information notification system (fins); and
- An expansion of geo-fencing so that inbuilt drone technology can restrict entry into no-fly zones.
Following the publication of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report on Commercial and recreational drone use in the UK, further sessions considered the evolving landscape in terms of regulation, including the compliance challenges facing drone users in the UK, as well as questions around airspace management and liability.
Those attending also assessed the potential for wider commercial and public sector drone use.
Discussion took place on the latest developments in use cases including the management, surveying and maintenance of infrastructure assets, supporting the work of the emergency services, drone utilisation in the construction and agriculture sectors, and wider emerging applications.
Delegates considered what more is needed to support the growth of the sector and to drive continued innovation, in order to ensure the UK is positioned as a global leader in this field.
Areas for discussion included what developments may be required to the regulatory framework for unmanned aircraft system operations if fully-autonomous and BVLOS flying are to be enabled on a routine basis.