Attractions industry news

29 Nov 2017

Safety tests on the way for drone operators in Britain

Leisure operators using or considering using drones in Britain will have to take safety awareness tests to operate them, according to government legislation set to be introduced next year.

The proposed bill, which will be published in spring 2018, means owners of drones weighing more than 250g will have to register their device and pass a test to legally use it.

At the recent IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida, former White House advisor Lisa Ellman laid out the opportunities drones could offer attractions in the US, but said that lack of regulation is hindering the commercial use of such devices as policy fails to keep up with the advancing technology.

“The technology has moved so quickly forward that what used to be considered a toy is now a tool of industry,” said Ellman.

“Their uses are really limited only by our imagination. While that’s incredibly exciting, it also presents a number of challenges on the public policy front, and as policy catches up, drones are really taking off.”

In the US, the government has sought to expand drone operations beyond that which is currently authorised for better commercial use. To do this, the Trump administration recently launched a new programme to create innovation hubs across the US, where drone policy is relaxed, creating “petri dishes of innovation”.

Britain is following suit, this week launching the Flying High Challenge as part of its efforts to better commercialise drone use across the UK.

Funded by the government and run by Nesta in partnership with Innovate UK, up to five cities will be supported in the research and development of drone technology, opening up a number of opportunities for multiple sectors, including visitor attractions.

“Drones have great potential and we want to do everything possible to harness the benefits of this technology as it develops,” said aviation minister Liz Sugg.

“But if we're to realise the full potential of this incredibly exciting technology, we have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.

“These new laws strike a balance, to allow the vast majority of drone users to continue flying safely and responsibly, while also paving the way for drone technology to revolutionise businesses and public services.”

The new legislation will ban drones from flying near airports or above 400ft (121.9m) and police will be given the power to seize and ground any device suspected of criminal activity, as the government cracks down on unsafe or unlawful flying.

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