Commercial and recreational drone use in the UK Contents

Annex 2: Roundtable with recreational and commercial drone users

1)On Wednesday 4 September 2019 the Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon. Norman Lamb MP, alongside Stephen Metcalfe MP, met with 17 recreational and commercial drone users to discuss drones.

2)The following questions were asked:

Points of discussion

3)Ambiguities were highlighted in the drone code (e.g. the 50m rule and congested areas) and a lot of people, including the general public and some drone users, did not understand the code. Despite this, many thought that with the correct amendments, the drone code should be handed out as mandatory at the point of sale to raise awareness of drone safety. One thought was that it should be a legal obligation for the retailers to include.

4)Some explained that the CAA should contact drone users to help design a drone code that was fit for purpose.

5)Some expressed a view that flying at a club should be exempted from regulations: it was different because flying generally took place in remote, open spaces and the model aircraft community had self-regulated for almost a century and there had been no problems.

6)Some participants believed that the public had lost trust in drones because of inaccurate stories published every month about collisions with aircraft. Participants were sceptical about the validity of many sightings.

7)Many wanted to see a rapid change to the system for access to flight restriction zones, as the current system provided by NATS was not transparent enough, and sometimes resulted in inconsistent and inconvenient denials and permissions that could cost large amounts and disrupt business as usual for commercial drone operators.

8)The proposed registration fee was unfairly high in comparison to other countries such as France. Further, some felt that the current proposals did little more than build a database on the assumption of potential criminality. As such, some expressed the view that the current registration process would dissuade people from registering.

9)Many commercial operators thought it was unfair that, alongside the other tests and fees they had to pay to operate a drone commercially, they would now also be obliged to register and take a simple online test.

10)There was some support for serious penalties for non-registration if the cost of registering was low or free.

11)Those who had seen the proposed online test thought it might not be fit for purpose as it was too simplistic.

12)Some noted that putting liability upon manufacturers to include in-built safety technologies was unfair—much in the same way that car manufacturers were not responsible for people speeding. Others said that manufacturers should ensure there were safety features that were not easily disabled within their technology.

13)Many thought that there should be strong penalties for individuals disabling safety features, and that the onus for liability should be on the user.

Published: 11 October 2019