The UK Government plans to introduce new legislation requiring drone users to register their vehicles and complete a safety awareness course.
Owners of drones weighing over 250 grams will need to show they understand safety and privacy laws, the Government said.
Aircraft groups argued that drones pose a real danger of smashing plane windscreens and shattering helicopter rotors. Around 48 near-misses with aircraft have been reported in the first half of this year alone, with pilots describing the phenomenon as potentially “catastrophic”.
The unmanned aerial vehicle is also often at the centre of privacy, “prison smuggling”, burglary “scoping” cases, as thousands of police reports pile up.
Figures, obtained by the Press Association, show that forces recorded some 3,456 allegations of drone abuse last year, almost triple the 1,237 cases in 2015.
Under the new regulations, pilots who fly devices weighing more than 250 grams will have to register their devices and “prove that they understand UK safety, security and privacy regulations”. The plans also include the extension of geo-fencing – in which no-fly zones are programmed into drones’ software. The no-fly GPS co-ordinates will include areas such as prisons and airports.
Aviation Minister Lord Martin Callanan said: “Our measures prioritise protecting the public while maximising the full potential of drones.
“Increasingly, drones are proving vital for inspecting transport infrastructure for repair or aiding police and fire services in search and rescue operations, even helping to save lives.
“But like all technology, drones too can be misused. By registering drones and introducing safety awareness tests to educate users, we can reduce the inadvertent breaching of airspace restrictions to protect the public.”
Commenting on the proposals, Dr Alan McKenna, law lecturer at the University of Kent, said: “Registration has its place. I would argue it will focus the mind of the flyer – but I don’t think you can say it’s going to be a magic solution.
“There will be people who will simply not be on the system, that’s inevitable.”
The US has tried and failed to implement a similar registration system. After the rules were successfully challenged in March this year, non-commercial flyers were excluded.
Dr Alan McKenna also questioned how a drone’s owner could be identified by police, and whether personal liability insurance should be a legal requirement in the event of an accident.