The Civil Aviation Authority doesn’t “100%” see the use of a national drone register, as exists in the US, a representative of the CAA said in an exclusive interview on drone regulation.
Jonathan Nicholson, the Assistant Director Corporate Communications at the CAA spoke to DronePunks about a range of issues affecting the future of drone regulation in the UK. Points covered included:
– The CAA is “not 100% convinced” on the utility of a national drone register, and would see it as a last resort
– There could be a minimum weight limit for drones to exclude toy devices from regulation
– The CAA currently has no policy on autonomous flight
– The CAA endorses geofencing and self-policing efforts in the community
Earlier this year, the US introduced a compulsory national register of drone owners. Could this happen in the UK? “We’re not 100% convinced on what the use for a drone [register] would be,” Jonathan said.
In fact, the CAA would rather prioritise education and deterrence rather than reactive approaches. “Our view as the CAA and my personal view, is that it’s far better to prevent an incident in the first place and to stop an incident happening… There has not been a drone located or a drone user located in any of the safety incidents involving aviation. Registration is very much post an event, where it could have an impact. We would rather prevent the event in the first place… I think we would rather concentrate our efforts in other areas and prevent an incident in the first place.”
He also clarified the CAA’s position on lightweight devices that are nevertheless theoretically covered by the CAA’s regulations. “Toys have no impact on other aviation, so, in the nicest possible way, from what we’re doing, we’re not interested in those,” he said.
As an aviation safety regulator, the CAA strongly endorses the use of safety features like geofencing. Jonathan also praised self-policing efforts in the community to root out bad behaviour. “There is an element now of the hobby, the industry, self-policing and actually wanting to preserve and enhance what they’ve got and realising that things that are bad don’t do them any good,” he said.
The CAA also strongly supports the use of drones in industry, but whether a commercial flight corridor might be cut out of the airspace below 400 feet remains to be seen.
On a concluding note he added, “It’s for the drone industry and drone operators to map their future. It’s for us [the CAA] to make sure that future is safe and that that future integrates with what’s also operating in our airspace.”
Jonathan also spoke about the testing of the Amazon Prime Air autonomous delivery programme, as well as the importance of accurate reporting of drone incidents and the CAA’s Dronecode which provides safety guidelines for consumer users.
You can read the full interview with Jonathan Nicholson here.
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