A tax on aero­mod­ellers?

Pilot - - AIRMAIL -

I en­joyed and ap­pre­ci­ated Steve Slater’s ar­ti­cle on the CAA’S lat­est act of stu­pid­ity, which will do un­told dam­age to the UK aviation in­dus­try in the long-term. We all know the vi­tal im­por­tance of get­ting young­sters in­ter­ested in aviation early – and that aero­mod­elling is the af­ford­able route. But Steve makes the same mis­take as so many oth­ers, in par­rot­ing the DFT lines about ‘il­le­gal drone flights’, ‘dis­rup­tion at ma­jor air­ports’, ‘ir­re­spon­si­bly flown drones’, ‘safety hazard to manned aviation’ etc.

For the avoid­ance of any doubt, there is no proof that any drone has ever flown close to a manned air­craft in the UK, or has been present dur­ing any air­port dis­rup­tion.

I’ll say that again an­other way: The UK Air­prox Board has pub­lished more than three hun­dred and fifty ‘Drone Air­prox’ reports – and has not proved that a sin­gle one ac­tu­ally hap­pened. And it is patently ob­vi­ous that a huge pro­por­tion never hap­pened, as they would in­volve drones with range, speed and en­durance mas­sively greater than the best that mod­ern tech­nol­ogy can pro­vide. (For ex­am­ple, UKAB re­port 2019046 fea­tures a ‘near miss’ with a drone some twenty miles off­shore at nine thou­sand feet. A more plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tion is avail­able here: (https://www.f light safety board. org.uk/files/2019046-flight­Safety-board-re­port.pdf)

The UK Air­prox Board pub­lishes ev­ery sin­gle drone spot­ting re­port they re­ceive, no mat­ter how out­landish, with­out any fil­ter­ing or bur­den of proof. These reports de­light the me­dia – and alarm the air­line pi­lots – who then ‘see’ drones ev­ery­where. Any ‘drone safety prob­lem’, if it ex­ists at all, is mas­sively over-stated. The big prob­lem is psy­cho­log­i­cal.

The DFT is busily in­vent­ing more and more reg­u­la­tions to deal with the drone bo­gey­man be­cause none of the job­sworths has the wit to go and ac­tu­ally un­der­stand the to­tally bo­gus na­ture of the data they are us­ing. Mark Dale, York

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