The United Kingdom’s Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that it will begin a program of public engagement on the use of drones in November. British social research firm TNS BMRB has been hired to conduct a series of public discussions held at five locations across the UK to test public opinion on the use of commercial and civilian drones in the UK.
The program was proposed in a report to Parliament on the civilian use of drones in the EU in March of 2015. In contrast to the US focus on enforcement of drone regulations, the UK report emphasizes the importance of technology solutions and education to address safety issues, stating:
The Government agrees with the Committee that use of geo-fencing as a tool to prevent RPAS and small drones from flying around airports and other sensitive areas could be an adequate means of addressing some security and safety concerns. A Cross Government Working Group is in discussion with various RPAS and small drone manufacturers and operators about the potential use of geo-fencing in the UK.
The report also reiterates the need to use social media and other educational platforms to encourage drone operators to know and follow safety rules, such as the Civil Aviation Authority’s educational “You have Control – Be Safe! Be Legal!” materials.
Head of UK Aviation Safety Paul Cremin says that the UK is moving to integrate drones into the airspace as quickly as possible, and told the Royal Aeronautical Society earlier this year that the UK would not wait for the European community to agree on regulations. “We are not going alone,” Cremin says. “We’re accelerating the pace, and if EASA [European Aviation Safety Association] and ICAO can keep up, then that’s great, but we [the UK] are upping the pace.” Cremin has said that the UK hopes to have systems in place to allow regular access for drones to controlled airspace by 2018.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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