With drone usage continuing to rise, the UK Government has enacted legislation to help achieve safer flying across the country. The new laws, which will restrict drones from flying above 400 feet or within one kilometre of airport boundaries, come into effect today, 30th July 2018.

These changes have been met with approval by UK citizens, with new research published today from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) finding that 77 per cent felt that more drone regulation was needed. This was even echoed by the drone community themselves, with 75 per cent in agreement.

Indeed, safety was the clear priority among the 2,000+ UK adults and 350+ UK drone users questioned by the study:

  • 93 per cent of the public and 96 per cent of drone users calling it 'vital' that drone flyers adhere to the rules and guidelines of the CAA's Dronecode*, available at www.dronesafe.uk
  • there was good news for those keen to see safer use of drones, with the study showing that the drone community's awareness of the CAA's Dronecode has jumped from just over half (54 per cent in 2016) to nearly three-quarters (71 per cent in 2018).

Speaking on the findings, Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director at the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) commented:

“As recreational drone use becomes increasingly widespread across the UK it is heartening to see that awareness of the Dronecode has also continued to rise - a clear sign that most drone users take their responsibility seriously and are a credit to the community.

“Drones are here to stay, not only as a recreational pastime, but as a vital tool in many industries - from agriculture to blue-light services - so increasing public trust through safe drone flying is crucial.”

Future thinking

The research also found that mobile apps, providing information on airspace and safety alerts, are quickly becoming a must have, with drone users citing them as crucial for regulating the sector and providing a platform for future communication and safety campaigns:

  • Almost half of drone users (45 per cent) use a drone-related app to help them fly more safely
  • Of those who don't use a drone app, 73 per cent said they will in the future
  • 43 per cent stated that apps such as NATS Drone Assist and Airmap have the benefit of providing drone users with accurate airspace information

More to come

Further to the legislation changes this July, the Government has also confirmed that there will be more to come, with operators of drones weighing 250g or more being required to register with the CAA and for drone pilots to take an online safety test. These requirements will be enforced from 30th November 2019. More information on the registration scheme will follow in 2019.

Notes for editors:

*The Dronecode is a simple set of rules designed to promote safe and responsible use:

  • Don't fly near airports or airfields (it is against the law to fly your drone within 1km of an airport or airfield boundary)
  • 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

The Dronecode is available to download at www.dronesafe.uk.

Please note: the Dronecode is for consumer drone use, those using a drone commercially must be approved by the CAA.

About the research

Working with Opinium, the Civil Aviation Authority commissioned a study of 2,000 UK adults and 350 UK drone users.

Media contacts 

For further information and interview enquiries, please contact the CAA at 0333 103 6000 (08:30 - 17:30 Monday to Friday). Out of hours: 07789 745 636.

Alternatively, you can email on: press.office@caa.co.uk (monitored during office hours)

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.