The UK’s Drone Bill is still going through the motions in parliament. The latest proposal from the Department for Transport would ban children from owning drones weighing more than 250g (0.55lb).
They would only be allowed to fly devices heavier than that, according to the proposal, if the drone in question was owned and registered by an adult.
The move, reported by the BBC, is the latest put forward by the UK Government as it seeks to reassure the public and ease fears of a fatal collision between a drone and a manned aircraft.
More UK Drone Rules On The Way
UK skies are not the lawless free for all that some media publications would have you believe. Despite the publicity garnered by ‘near-misses’ and the occasional prison delivery, it’s not all that bad.
UK ministers have already updated existing legislation to cement restrictions in place to ban drones from flying at heights above 400ft (122m) and within 1km (0.6 miles) of airports. As of the end of this month, drone pilots breaking these rules face unlimited fines or up to five years in prison.
A consultation process on the latest proposals, which also include online safety tests for pilots and mandatory registration of devices weighing over 250g with the Civil Aviation Authority, is now underway. The Drone Bill is expected to be passed into law before the end of 2018.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said that “there are challenges we must overcome” to prevent the nuisances posed by drones from outweighing their potential benefits.
“That’s why we’ve already introduced safety measures like a height limit, and rules around airports, and today we are consulting on how we go further, including extra police powers and a minimum age requirement,” she added.
Is Banning Drones For Children a Good Idea?
The UK Government’s proposals wouldn’t result in an outright ban for children flying drones. Instead, the potential regulations would prevent youngsters from owning any of the more serious models weighing more than 250 grams. At present that would include the entire DJI range of drones.
Presumably, that weight has been chosen because drones of that size tend to have more capability in terms of range, as well as more kinetic energy should there be an accident or collision with a manned aircraft.
There’s no reason why children, accompanied by an adult, couldn’t still fly and explore the technology. But the move might concern some, as it could put owning a DJI Mavic Air on a par with buying a knife, cigarettes and alcohol – all of which you have to be 18 to do in the UK.
The driving age in the UK is 17. The Government’s proposals will no doubt outline what constitutes a child in this context, but it would be laughable if a 17-year-old could drive a Range Rover but not a DJI Spark.
It would be even more laughable if UK teenagers wanting to follow in the FPV footsteps of racing sensation Luke Bannister – the then 15-year-old who, in 2016, led a team to a $250,000 win at the Dubai Drone Prix – were blocked from getting involved in the sport due to these proposed regulations and weight restrictions.