BALPA seeks fur­ther re­stric­tions on drones

Pilot - - SAFETY MATTERS -

Whilst wel­com­ing the new laws on op­er­a­tion of drones that came into force on 30 July, the Bri­tish Air­line Pi­lots As­so­ci­a­tion says that the re­stric­tions need to go much fur­ther to make the use of drones near air­ports safe. The new laws limit drones to a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 400ft and no closer than 1km to an air­port bound­ary. But BALPA says that air­craft could eas­ily be be­low 400ft at this point on ap­proach to an air­port, so there is still sig­nif­i­cant risk of un­manned air­craft and drones com­ing into con­tact.

Dr Rob Hunter, BALPA’S Head of Flight Safety, com­mented:

“We are pleased that the Gov­ern­ment has recog­nised the dan­gers and is tak­ing the re­cent dra­matic rise in near misses se­ri­ously, but it is cru­cial these new law changes are right and ad­dress the prob­lem prop­erly if we are to avoid a po­ten­tial catas­tro­phe. The Gov­ern­ment has com­mit­ted to a con­sul­ta­tion on the new laws to which BALPA will be con­tribut­ing [and we are urg­ing it] to con­sider fol­low­ing the ex­am­ple set by Aus­tralia where un­manned op­er­a­tions must not be flown within 3nm of an air­field. We are not anti-drone and we un­der­stand the com­mer­cial con­sid­er­a­tions in not mak­ing laws too re­stric­tive, but safety must come first, and al­low­ing hob­by­ist or com­mer­cial drones to be flown in an area where they could come into con­tact with a manned air­craft in­creases the risk of a cat­a­strophic col­li­sion.”

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