• Currys PC World drone sales up 60% this year.
  • Over three million people in the UK were considering buying a drone for Christmas: CAA research
  • The CAA asks new owners to use their drones safely and responsibly by following the Dronecode
  • New video from Air Traffic Control providers NATS promotes 'pilot-like' behaviour

With their increasingly advanced technology, coupled with their growing popularity, it's no surprise that drones were this year's must-have Christmas present with sales up 60% according to Currys PC World. Additionally, the CAA's own research suggested over three million people in the UK were considering buying one for Christmas. The CAA is highlighting the guidelines for safe and responsible drone operation to anyone who received a drone at Christmas and urging them to follow the Dronecode whilst also having fun.

The CAA is asking new drone owners to familiarise themselves with the Dronecode, (available at www.dronesafe.uk, a website created by the CAA and aviation industry body NATS, and supported by a range of key players in the drone and aviation sectors along with the Department for Transport and Police). The rules of the Dronecode state:

  • Don't fly near airports
  • Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) and at least 150ft (50m) away from buildings and people
  • Observe your drone at all times
  • Never fly near aircraft
  • Enjoy responsibly

Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications at the CAA, said: “Drones featured heavily on many a Christmas wish-list this year, and while we absolutely want everyone to have fun with their new drone, safety must always be the top priority.”

To compliment the Dronecode, NATS has launched a new video; 'Remember you're a pilot' which shows the checks that a drone pilot should go through before each flight. The video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtxLWyDfF8c&feature=youtu.be.

Andrew Sage, Account Director for Airlines and Airspace Users, NATS, said: “Drones are an incredible, inspiring technology but it's vital that people are using them safely. Following the launch of our Drone Assist app earlier this month, which helps drone users understand where it's safe to fly, we wanted to go a step further to support new drone owners who may be looking for more information. The new 'Remember you're a Pilot' video has been created to do just that.”

The CAA reminder to stay safe with drones forms part of a wider initiative looking at establishing a safe and responsible attitude toward drone flight and usage, to protect the safety of the wider aviation industry.

This initiative saw the launch of 400ft Britain earlier this year, a drone photography and videography competition that aims to creatively bring the Dronecode to life. The competition, which closes at the end of January, has been developed in partnership with VisitEngland and offering drone-flying holidays from Phantom Flight School to the winning entries.

The Dronecode is for consumer drone use and those using a drone commercially must be licensed and undergo an approved course. Drone users must also remember that if they don't follow the simple rules they could be prosecuted and face up to five years in prison.

Media contacts

For further information, interviews or images from the 400ft competition, please contact the CAA press office, 07789745636 or press.office@caa.co.uk

About the CAA

The CAA is the UK's aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.

About the Dronecode

The rules of the Dronecode are straightforward: don't fly near airports; remember to keep your drone in sight (stay below 400ft); observe your drone at all times; never fly near aircraft; and enjoy responsibly. Neatly encapsulated in a DRONE mnemonic.

About NATS

NATS is a leading air navigation services specialist, handling 2.3 million flights in 2015, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic. NATS provides air traffic control from centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire.

NATS also provides air traffic control services at 14 UK airports including Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and Glasgow; at Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, at a number of airport towers in Spain.

Building on its reputation for operational excellence and innovation, NATS also offers aerodrome, data, engineering and consultancy solutions to customers worldwide, including airports, air traffic service providers and Governments. There is more information on the NATS website at www.nats.aero.