Aviation Minister responds to concerns over new drone laws

Wednesday 16th April 2019. 

Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, has responded to concerns raised about a new drones law.

A joint letter from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for General Aviation (APPG-GA) and the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) highlighted the concern that the new rules unfairly restrict many model flying clubs.

A change to the Air Navigation Order, which came into force on the 13th March, toughened laws on operating small unmanned aircraft around airfields. The new law expanded restriction zones and removed the lower weight limit of models which the regulation applied to.

In her response, Baroness Sugg said “I appreciate that there may be some existing model aircraft club locations which now fall within the new restriction zone. However, these clubs are able to apply to fly in accordance with the [new] guidance…

“It is not the intention to completely ban flight, but to put in place a process that allows the ATCU and the aerodrome to maintain the ability to manage its airspace.”

Commenting on the reply, the Chief Executive of the BMFA Dave Phipps said “The Department for Transport rushed in the creation of Flight Restriction Zones, giving our clubs (run by amateur volunteers) little over two weeks to create agreements with no guidance provided to either the BMFA or Air Traffic Control Units on what these should look like.

“A little more warning or even a transition period for established clubs would have been appreciated, given the acknowledgement that our organised activities are not the problem they are trying to address.”

Chair of the APPG-GA, Grant Shapps MP said “We fully support risk-based regulation, but given the excellent safety record the BMFA has established over the last century, we believe that model fliers are being unfairly captured by regulations intended to address unlawful drone operations.”

Note to Editors

  1. For further information, please contact APPG-GA Head of Secretariat James Shipp at james.shipp@generalaviationappg.uk or on 0207 219 8497.