Every year we conduct a survey of the public and drone users to gauge their understanding of the rules covering drone flying. We also seek their views on the future for drones and other areas of innovative aviation, such as electric vertical take and landing (eVTOL) flying taxis.
This year’s survey has just been published and, as in previous years, shows some interesting insights that will enable us to plan our work and provide guidance for the drone and innovation industries in the UK.
Some of the key findings of the survey were:
- The biggest growth areas for commercial drone use is considered to be in deliveries and travel (eVTOL air taxi etc), with the general public expecting both services to continue to grow over the next 20 years
- Awareness of the maximum height restriction for flying a drone has increased amongst drone users, and is now at the highest level since research started eight years ago
- There is less clarity over the requirements for drone tests and registration for drone owners. This is an area we will continue to reach out to drone users on.
- Motivators for registration would be if the police started issuing fines, as well as if users were granted access to fly in more places.
The predicted increase in commercial drone use and eVTOL air taxi flying matches what we have seen in previous surveys. Although it’s interesting that the public’s views may be driven by what they see or read in the media rather than actual developments. This is particularly the case with drone deliveries. While we see extensive media coverage predicting commercial drone delivery flying, much more of the actual work and demand is currently in other areas, such as using drones for infrastructure inspection.
We have two major education campaigns planned for later this year that will help to address drone users’ understanding of the registration requirements. Drone registration was first introduced in the UK in 2019. While the 450,000 active registered users are significantly more then we or others predicted prior to registration, we believe there are still users out there yet to register. We want to help them understand the legal requirement and show them how quick and easy it is to register.
On the deterrent angle, the Government has been working on the introduction of fixed penalty notices for some drone misuse with the change expected to be introduced in the near future.
On the positive findings, it’s pleasing to see that drone users have a high level of understanding around the 120m / 400ft maximum height restriction for most drone flying. This is a key safety rule to help protect aircraft.
All the data will help us with our role to safely enable the growth of these innovative aviation sectors and track our progress through the year.
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