Warnings over safe use of drones issued after “near miss”

Drone pilots have been warned about the safe use of the hobby aircraft after a “near miss” between a passenger jet and a drone hovering over Heathrow. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said an Airbus A320’s wing passed 6m below a drone at the airport. Drone pilots could face prosecution if they put the safety of other aircraft at risk. Six other incidents in which drones and piloted aircraft almost collided have been recorded between May 2014 and March 2015 at airports around the UK, according to the CAA. Tim Johnson, director of policy at the CAA, said in a statement: “Drone users must understand that when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world. “They must be aware of the rules and regulations for flying drones that are designed to keep all air users safe.” Recklessly endangering an aircraft is a criminal offence, said Mr Johnson, and those convicted could face a five-year jail sentence. The authority has issued a set of safety guidelines, which, it said, should help ensure drone flights do not impinge on other aircraft. The “dronecode” says recreational drone owners should always keep their craft within their line of sight, about 500m (1,640ft), and must not fly higher than 122m. In some of the near-collisions, drones were flying at heights of about 2,000ft, it said. The code also says that drones carrying cameras must stay at least 50m away from people, vehicles and structures and must not approach a large group of people closer than 150m. It urged owners to exercise common sense when flying their craft and to avoid the congested airspace around airports. As part of the drone safety awareness initiative, the CAA has set up a dedicated online resource including the top tips for drone safety, a quick-start guide to the rules for recreational drone users and other advice. A short animated guide is also hosted on the site.

Safety & Health Practitioner, 22 July 2015 ;http://www.shponline.co.uk ;