Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pilots Association Call for Strict Drone Regulation

The association recently called on the Government to introduce strict regulations protecting commercial airlines and passengers before allowing large-scale drones to be flown in UK airspace.  BALPA says its members are already concerned after a number of run-ins with smaller drones that are not yet regulated as strictly as pilots would like.

In one such incident this past May (2014), a drone came within 25 metres of a commercial flight landing at Southend Airport.  Though 25 metres may not sound a dangerously close distance to the average airline passenger, it is much too close for a pilot trying to control a large passenger jet on a landing approach.  The drone in this case was close enough to cause great concern.

BALPA contends that the smaller drones now in use post enough concern for commercial pilots. Larger drones eventually intended to carry cargo could pose even more danger in the skies.  The association says the rules that currently regulate small drones would be ineffective and inappropriate for larger vehicles.

BALPA is not against the use of drones in UK airspace.  In fact, the association's general secretary says the UK should welcome the unmanned aircraft in order to take advantage of the opportunities these offer however he says drones should be as safe as manned aircraft at all times.  He went on to say that UK residents deserve to be informed before any sort of unmanned aircraft is flown over their neighbourhoods.

Regulations Are Coming

It is important to hear from organisations such as BALPA in regards to unmanned aircraft.  The fact is that it is only a matter of time before larger commercial drones are operating in our skies to handle everything from cargo delivery to data communications to wireless networking.  Moreover, with that inevitability is the reality that regulations are coming also.  In making its voice heard now, BALPA is ensuring that it has a place at the table when the discussion on regulation commences.

With multiple stakeholders networking and sharing ideas, regional regulations can be put in place that will let us make the best use of drones without endangering the public.  That's what this is all about.  By being proactive with regulations, the UK can create an environment that allows us to be a world leader in yet another emerging technology.  To that end, it is imperative that policy makers get to work on creating regulations now, before those larger drones are ready to take to the skies.

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