back to article UK.gov plans £2,500 fines for kids flying toy drones within 3 MILES of airports

Families living near airports whose children fly toy helicopters in their gardens could be fined up to £2,500 under new government plans that, er, flew under the radar during the ongoing Brexit chaos. A recent "correction slip" issued to change the government’s plans for new anti-drone laws removes a key protection from anyone …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Droning on

    Did they ever catch the people who (allegedly) flew the drones over Gatwick and Heathrow? Bet they're trembling now!!

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Droning on

      There was a thing on the BBC website yesterday about a guy who got done for flying a drone around LHR, but that incident was before Xmas.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Droning on

      It's quite hard top arrest a flashing red light on a crane, Venus and a blow up Rudolf with a led nose

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Droning on

      there was never any actual drone flying at the airport. And I'm saying that with (almost) 100% certeinty, because I can't believe they would have NOT recorded something real with best quality recording equipment, at least from a certain point when the gatwick-drone-invasion became national disaster (brexit pales in comparison). And yet, there's been a rather embarrassing silence since on those (over 50 in total) "verified drone sightings". Fortunately, there's never been better time to bury bad news - thanks God for brexit.

      1. RobDog

        Re: Droning on

        I absolutely agree, there never was/were any drone/s, it was a false flag event concocted as an excuse to state that multi-million pound anti-drone equipment was being installed. Got to to counter good news with bad - in this instance, feed us the fear and hysteria (so what if a few thousand people missed their flights, they only saved hard for their holidays).

        Slightly related, I believe that all these high-profile IT ‘failures’ by Big Corp are no coincidence either. There’s something going on but I can’t put my finger on it. Some sort of agenda or plan or something. I’m not being specific because I can’t be. Just suspicious.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Droning on

          Slightly related, I believe that all these high-profile IT ‘failures’ by Big Corp are no coincidence either. There’s something going on but I can’t put my finger on it. Some sort of agenda or plan or something.

          Reducing the IT wage bill by firing anybody trained or experienced who knows what they are talking about to be replaced with somebody in India who doesn't know what they are talking about and who has barely got the competence to read off a script but whom is cheap to employ? It's not exactly a state secret.

          Oh, and reducing capital expenditure on servers by putting all servers "in the cloud", which results in operational expenditure of about 3x the cost of running services on site through life. It also means that when something breaks then your at the mercy of an external supplier who you can't affect or put any pressure on, because they aren't your customer.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Droning on

        So you're saying they just stopped a full airport from functioning because some guy was playing drone sounds from his car stereo?

        I'm sorry, but I don't think that's credible - there must have been something credible out there, but I suspect that they were more focused on finding the idiot controlling the thing than filming it. I also suspect that whatever was out there was moving erratically enough to prevent someone hitting it when they worked out a safe angle to do this from.

        The problem with this event is that it has demonstrated a new fun game for idiots, and I wasn't in the least surprised when the same happened at Heathrow only days later.

        1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

          Re: Droning on

          The problem with this event is that it has demonstrated a new fun game for idiots, and I wasn't in the least surprised when the same happened at Heathrow only days later.

          "idiots" being the operative word - never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity

        2. Test Man

          Re: Droning on

          There WAS videos, but probably numbered as much as the amount of fingers on one hand, which is strange with an airport full of people with recordable equipment who would normally not hesitate to record some passing Z-list celeb even if they were going via a "private" route.

          1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

            I have enough trouble getting pictures of garden birds with the 450mm stabilised lens on my DSLR. A phone camera would be totally useless for getting a picture of a drone unless it was really up close.

            The "real" resolution of most phone cameras is around 4MPx, optically limited. Call it about 2500 by 1500 pixels. Field of view around 90 degrees. The human eye has a much higher foveal resolution but peripheral vision is much weaker.

            The distance at which a drone 500mm across would subtend 1 pixel is therefore about 800 metres. To be identified as a drone it would need to subtend more like 40 pixels, for a distance of around 20 metres. How many people at Gatwick are going to be that close to the putative drone?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

              1. Your argument kinda applies to human eyesight. At 200 to 300 metres a drone is pretty hard to see (unless you are an eyewitness 1 km away who 'saw it clearly stationary for 5 minutes', begging the question why no-one managed to cover that kilometer in under 5 minutes and get underneath it with a camera) .

              2. I assume that there were at least 4 classes of people with slightly better than phone camera optics hanging around the airport. a) plane spotters b) tabloid journalists c) air traffic controllers sitting in high towers and d) assorted law enforcement and military. Although I am prepared to concede that in the latter case we might have outsourced binocular supply to Capita, so maybe a second hand Samsung 3 is the best kit available.

              1. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

                Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

                If there were any drones I'm sure we would have got some video by now ? Unless ..... ummm

                Ummm

                They shot them down with EMP that only took out the drones and pics... and the videos of them... from devices that stream to remote locations using normal mobile comms.... they did cut off mobile and gps signals, didn't they ?

                The fact that they called in the Army that can easily take out drones suggests that they had a bunch of monkeys with Nerf guns running security or was it outsourced to Crapita?

            2. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

              Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

              "I have enough trouble getting pictures of garden birds with the 450mm stabilised lens on my DSLR"

              Use a shorter lens. Or a zoom.

            3. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

              Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

              "I have enough trouble getting pictures of garden birds with the 450mm stabilised lens on my DSLR"

              Use a shorter lens. Or a zoom.

              "A phone camera would be totally useless for getting a picture of a drone unless it was really up close."

              Total BS, if it captures a tiny dot moving (i'm assuming video here) thats evidence enough.

              "The "real" resolution of most phone cameras is around 4MPx, optically limited. Call it about 2500 by 1500 pixels. Field of view around 90 degrees. The human eye has a much higher foveal resolution but peripheral vision is much weaker."

              You sound familiar... Oh you are the guy who doesnt understand camera optics and sensors so makes up numbers.

              "The distance at which a drone 500mm across would subtend 1 pixel is therefore about 800 metres. To be identified as a drone it would need to subtend more like 40 pixels, for a distance of around 20 metres. How many people at Gatwick are going to be that close to the putative drone?"

              My god its like dejavu, are you really still using that digital camera from the early 2000's as your example here?

              Look all anyone needs to see is a moving dot with flashing lights that sometimes hovers i.e stays in one position, them moves of again, gains height, moves off for 20 mins, then comes back. If this was an off the shelf drone they generally have flashing lights. The operator would have loved these as they would have let people know that the drone was there!

              My Samsung J6 is more than capable of taking photos of stars in the night sky. So most decent phones (any DSLR or digtal compact will beat them so we will just think of the ubiquitous phones) are entirely capable of capturing something that can be seen to move like a drone.

              This drone had to be seen my people also. None of your numbers consider the human eyes that "saw" it. Dont assume that they all had 20/20 vision either. So the drone had to be close enough or big enough to be seen by a human eye. Thus was also close enough or big enough to be seen by any camera I could think of. Ok maybe not a box brownie.

              Maybe they heard the drone? That must mean is was close enough to be heard. Have you flown one? I have, it gets totally inaudible just about 10 - 20 meters away. Oh, yet I can still see the thing through my glasses I wear because I'm short sighted. Trust me if they could hear it they can certainly see it and if they could see it they can certainly video it.

              1. Jimmy2Cows

                Re: Total BS, if it captures a tiny dot moving (i'm assuming video here) thats evidence enough.

                Ummm... yeah... prove that tiny moving dot is a drone and not a bird, plastic bag, other litter or whatever.

                Hardly evidential.

              2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

                Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

                @DuncanLarge

                "You sound familiar... Oh you are the guy who doesnt understand camera optics and sensors so makes up numbers."

                I can't be bothered to write an in-depth rebuttal and as my optics books predate the Internet they aren't on line to cite, but I will make two minor points.

                Your camera cannot take photos of stars. At that magnification they are effectively dimensionless points, even Betelgeuse. What you get is a picture of the result of the divergence of the starlight due to dust in the atmosphere, air currents, and stray light from refraction and reflection in the optical path of the lens. You can't convict a star of being any shape from your photos. You are taking a picture of a blur.

                If a 450mm lens is barely adequate to record a blackcap on a tree close to the house, how will a shorter lens help? And what has a zoom got to do with it? It's a variable focus lens. "Zoom" doesn't mean "magically long focus".

                `

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Droning on - There WAS videos

                I have, it gets totally inaudible just about 10 - 20 meters away.

                I live in a tourist spot. Maybe they use noisier drones, but I can hear them from quite a distance.

          2. Tom 38 Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: Droning on

            There WAS videos, but probably numbered as much as the amount of fingers on one hand, which is strange with an airport full of people with recordable equipment

            Airports are fucking big. All the punters are in small terminal buildings set back from the 3.3km runway. How many people do you think are within 100m of the end of the runway? How far away do you think you can record a small drone from?

            Not saying there was or wasn't a drone, but the idea that there are tens of thousands of witnesses all over the airport with equipment capable of recording it that would have recorded it if were there is gibberish.

            1. Mr Benny

              Re: Droning on

              Plus at gatwick you dont get a view of the runway from the departure lounges and the rooftop viewing area was closed years ago for specious security reasons (aka cost cutting). For anyone to have been a risk from it theyd have needed a shoulder launched missle or snipers rifle to threaten the aircraft. Both of which might have been a bit obvious IMHO.

        3. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

          Re: Droning on

          "I suspect that they were more focused on finding the idiot controlling the thing than filming it."

          That makes total sense. Find the guy, then find you cant do him for anything as the court wonders where your evidence is...

        4. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Droning on

          There was no evidence of anything.

          Other than eye witness claims, which I would take with a bucket of salt as people are crap at observing things (not deliberately, it how your mind works, a lot of what you "see" is your mind filling in the gaps - so people can 100% believe they have seen something when actually its just an accidental fictional construct of their mind) - especially once the whole drone hysteria hits, people will be subconsciously triggered to be more likely translate a badly observed distant hovering kestrel (or whatever non drone object) as a drone

          1. Mr Benny

            Re: Droning on

            Birds dont generally have navigation lights.

        5. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Droning on

          I'm sorry, but I don't think that's credible - there must have been something credible out there, but I suspect that they were more focused on finding the idiot controlling the thing than filming it.

          If there was actually a drone, could it have been flown by someone directed to fly it? They want more "security", more "power" and so this would give the excuse they need. High profile, lots of unhappy and pissed off people venting about "drones". If, in reality, there wasn't a drone then it might be more likely that the drone was a ruse for more control/power.

        6. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Droning on

          No, it was a carrier bag blowing in the wind that was mistaken for a drone.

      3. Mr Benny

        Re: Droning on

        Good to see the conspiracy theory mouth breathers are still out there waiting to provide us with free laughs.

        Or maybe Gatwick shut itself down and the police and military were called out because trained pros in the ATC tower and the military really cant tell the difference between a drone and a pigeon.

        I wonder why youre posting as AC - too embarrased to use your login to post this drivel perhaps?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Droning on

          There were no drones. Even the chief inspector of the police said as much before he was quickly reprimanded as having "misspoken".

          It's simply inconceivable that one of the busiest airports in the world could be shut down for TWO days and not a single credible sighting of the supposed cause has emerged.

          1. Mr Benny

            Re: Droning on

            He never said it and what do you define as credible? People in the tower and police said they saw one but I guess a tit like you wouldnt believe anyone representing The Man and would only believe it if someone posted a pic on facebook, right? Youre an idiot.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Droning on

              He never said it and what do you define as credible?

              Det Ch Supt Jason Tingley had cast doubt over possible drone sightings as police had not been able to acquire any footage.

              Asked about this, he said: "We are working with human beings saying they have seen something."

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-46670714

              That sounds like a pretty clear admission to me that the authorities had sweet FA in the way of solid and credible evidence that would justify closing one of the world's busiest airports for TWO days.

              1. Mr Benny

                Re: Droning on

                A) That is completely different to him stating there were no drones

                B) The police themselves saw them llater on.

                That all youve got?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Droning on

                  B) The police themselves saw them llater on.

                  This senior police detective was speaking after the event.

                  1. Mr Benny

                    Re: Droning on

                    I would suggest you read the full text of that BBC article you posted.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Droning on

              People in the tower and police said they saw one

              From the tower the near end of the nearest runway is 560m away, the far end is 2,260m away, not factoring in the distance beyond the end of the runway the "drone" was supposedly located. You could somehow see it but not prove you saw it? How convenient. It would therefore need to be at the near end to see it. From 560m you should be able to photograph it, yet nobody did. I would therefore suggest it was at the far end and, at over 2km, all bets are off.

        2. caradoc

          Re: Droning on

          Remember Blunkett and the tanks a few years ago?

    4. Spanners Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Droning on

      Its very hard for people who do not exist to tremble!

  2. myxiplx2

    Knee jerk reaction

    Typical knee jerk reaction, making lawbreakers of kids and hobbyists while doing absolutely nothing to address the problem.

    The issue isn't law, what the drones over Heathrow did is already illegal. The issue is that neither law enforcement nor the airports have any effective way to enforce the law.

    If they even had drone operators on the payroll of the police and airport they could at least follow these drones as they returned home, get video footage of the owners, and follow them as ground police are directed to the location. And an industrial drone with a net has been shown to be an effective way to catch and disable a drone.

    Focus needs to be on equipping the airports and law enforcement with the appropriate tools, not knee jerk and ineffective policy changes.

    1. K Silver badge

      Re: Knee jerk reaction

      This is not a knee-jerk reaction - Its just moronic civil servant, who has contracted a friend of former colleague consultant to "advise on the situation". Where truthfully, the only thing they understood in the law was 0a number (i.e. 250g) and suggested rounding this down, will improve its effectiveness, thereby justifying their role and 6 figure fee.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: Knee jerk reaction

        No no. You misunderstand. For the last fifty years it appears that the best way to prevent ne'er-do-wells conducting activities illegal under current law is to make more activities which were perfectly legal, illegal. New books of tax law means that nobody fiddles their taxes any more. The statistics clearly show drugs are a thing of the past. The gun law extensions have completely stopped gun crime with absolutely no illegal guns, drive-by shootings or gangland murders in the UK in living memory. Knife laws have prevented any crime involving knives with no reports of people carrying illegal knives, stabbings or murders involving knives from anywhere.

        Hang on ... I'm just getting a report that the graphs were being held upside down ... oh dear, that doesn't look so hot.

        Curiously, at this time, one real success has been mandatory wearing of seat belts, even despite it only applying on a sliding scale of crown ownership ...

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Knee jerk reaction

          "Curiously, at this time, one real success has been mandatory wearing of seat belts, even despite it only applying on a sliding scale of crown ownership ..."

          Depends on your definition of success - it hasn't made the roads any safer..

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Knee jerk reaction

            "Depends on your definition of success - it hasn't made the roads any safer.."

            [Citation needed]

            And you probably won't find one, because seat belts are the easiest and cheapest safety measure for cars, and have saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

            1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Knee jerk reaction

              You misread the OP's point. Seat belts might well make the occupants of cars safer. There's no reason for them to make the actual roads (or the unprotected other users of them) safer, and perfectly reasonable theories as to why they might do the opposite.

            2. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: Knee jerk reaction

              Citation needed to say that they have improved things as well...

              http://john-adams.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Management-of-the-risks-of-transport2.pdf

              Particularly interesting is page 8-10 if you don’t feel like reading more of it.

              The death rate on the roads has had a steady 5% decrease year on year - completely unaffected by seatbelt initiatives or virtually any other ‘car safety’ feature. Medicine sure has improved though.

              1. DavCrav Silver badge

                Re: Knee jerk reaction

                "Citation needed to say that they have improved things as well..."

                OK, how about the CDC? From this page

                What Do We Know?

                Most drivers and passengers killed in crashes are unrestrained. 53% of drivers and passengers killed in car crashes in 2009 were not wearing restraints. (My note: only 15% of drivers in general are unrestrained.)

                Seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.

                Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash. People not wearing a seat belt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash. More than 3 out of 4 people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries.

                Seat belts save thousands of lives each year, and increasing use would save thousands more. Seat belts saved almost 13,000 lives in 2009. If all drivers and passengers had worn seat belts that year, almost 4,000 more people would be alive today.

                1. John Robson Silver badge

                  Re: Knee jerk reaction

                  Unsurprisingly if you limit your focus to the people wearing seatbelts ... they make some difference.

                  How many of those crashes wouldn’t have happened if people hadn’t been so mollycoddled in their cars?

                  How many extra people *not* in cars were killed because ‘I’m alright Jack’ wasn’t driving with due care and attention?

                  Overall road deaths haven’t been dented by seatbelt introduction, popularisation or legislation.

                  Measure only people who have had a crash whilst wearing them and you see a benefit, look at society as a whole and it vanishes.

        2. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Knee jerk reaction

          The gun laws do work. Obviously they don't reduce shootings to zero, but they do make a huge difference.

    2. Clive Galway

      Re: Knee jerk reaction

      > And an industrial drone with a net has been shown to be an effective way to catch and disable a drone

      Good luck trying to catch an FPV racing drone with an industrial drone and a net

      Hell, TinyWhoops are so small and fast, no form of physical interception is likely to be effective - my Mobula7 is about 26g and will do in excess of 50km/h

  3. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    ok so who's not within 2.9 miles of either an aerodrome or one of her majestey's hotels for the criminally incompetent?

    this law means you will have to have CAA permission to fly a paper aeroplane in the UK

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They don't seem to have defined the term "drone", so perhaps a paper aeroplane is one.

      Also kites. That's a "tethered drone", right?

      And what about sky lanterns?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Some people who fly sky lanterns are idiots. They're a fire risk to crops in dry conditions, and the wire frame isnt a pleasant thing to strew around the countryside ( though admittedly the littering impact of sky lanterns is next to naff all compared to everyday litter such as bottles and cans)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Some people who fly sky lanterns are idiots."

          Some?

      2. Wyrdness

        The legislation specifically excludes kites and balloons. Sadly the wording is so vague that it might well apply to paper aeroplanes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's already illegal to fly balloons near an airport. Trust me I know all about it.

          1. Schultz
            Trollface

            "Trust me I know all about it."

            Historic words. Can I quote you on that?

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: 2.9 miles

      @EnviableOne

      Aw, bugger, 2.5 miles from the local nick. So, even though I'm on the other side of town, and the FPV toy drone is WiFi only, and couldn't possibly get anywhere near the place, I'll need to file a flight plan, to the shed and back?

    3. macjules Silver badge

      But only a paper plane that is less than 250g, I presume.

  4. rg287 Bronze badge

    Standard knee-jerk legislation, much like the bulk of the Offensive Weapons Bill.

    Sounds good on paper - tough on crime, tough on the causes symptoms of crime. But is increasing the diameter of the haystack by 2.5times really going to make it easier to spot and track drones or identify operators? If they couldn't deal with a drone inside the airport perimeter, banning any drone operations out to 2.5miles is unlikely to achieve anything useful.

    But it's cheaper than reversing the last 8 years of cuts to Policing - the recent increases in crime being more readily attributable to falling Police efficacy than the availability of knives or acid (which were also readily available 10 years ago) or indeed fifty-calibre rifles, which have never been used in a single act of crime or terrorism in Great Britain. Ever. But apparently now represent an unacceptable terror threat for... reasons...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      I bet they will represent an unacceptable terror threat now it looks like the Troubles are kicking off again.

      If we have a second referendum it could threaten social cohesion says the Maybot. But don't think about the last 2.5 years of toxic political discourse.

      1. rg287 Bronze badge

        I bet they will represent an unacceptable terror threat now it looks like the Troubles are kicking off again.

        Eh, the IRA did import a pair from the US (South Armagh Sniper) in the 90s but never brought them to the mainland. If it wasn't considered necessary to ban them from private ownership in the 70s, 80s or 90s, they've a way to go to make a sensible case today. Let's not forget that big-50s are not like AK-47s which any fool can fire into the air. Hand a fifty-cal to a novice and they'll hurt themselves more than the thing they're supposed to be shooting at (and just missed). Identification of the shooter is trivial - go to A&E or the local IRA watering holes and look for the person with the smashed up eye socket.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Those 50 cal's are usually also bolt action. The ammo is bloody expensive too so getting in enough practice to become competent with the weapon almost requires sponsorship and I don't think kickstarter would let you run that sort of campaign.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First they came for my nano drone.....

    then my cricket balls.... tennis balls.... helium balloons with happy birthday on them, golf courses, bird feeders because they might attract kamikaze sparrows, elastic bands because they could be used to make a catapult, blow up sheep, plastic bags unless wind speed is less than 5 km/hour, gatherings of more than 15 ladybirds, any tree with blossom that could blow in the wind.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First they came for my nano drone.....

      Don't forget bows and arrows. Dangerous things they are, I remember King Harold once said watch him with that he'll have someones eye out.

      1. Locky Silver badge

        Re: First they came for my nano drone.....

        THOSE are still legal in York, in case you see some of those pesky Scottish blokes

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: First they came for my nano drone.....

        It's bows and arrowzz against the lighting!

  6. smudge Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    If that's what the law requires...

    in practice you could have a scenario of a child needing their parent to call ATC for permission to fly a £15 toy drone the size of a biscuit in their garden

    If that's what the law requires, then they can have no complaints when people do that. Though they might rethink the law after a few thousand calls...

    1. cosmogoblin

      Re: If that's what the law requires...

      As far as I can tell (I read the government documents), flying drones inside is illegal as well.

      On the downside, that's one of my lessons on resultant forces out the window.

      On the upside, I can now threaten kids who throw paper planes with a 5-year prison sentence...

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: If that's what the law requires...

        > As far as I can tell (I read the government documents), flying drones inside is illegal as well.

        Page 66:

        Regarding indoor use of drones: the ANO is made for the purposes of regulating air navigation. As a result, flights within buildings or areas where the unmanned aircraft cannot 'escape' into the open air are not subject to the above air legislation.

        However, there's no mention of model hovercraft, so do I (as I live within 3 miles of an airport) need permission to 'fly' one of those round my back garden and over the pond?

        1. cosmogoblin

          Re: If that's what the law requires...

          Hah, thanks - I guess I didn't get as far as page 66..!

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: If that's what the law requires...

      One might predict that a local club be formed to negotiate flying rights in bulk, with common requirements such as insurance, being a member, some sort of formal training, and an internet-mediated sign-on only required if you're doing things outside the normal.

      This seems to work to allow paragliders, hang gliders, and sailplanes to operate in Dunstable, practically on the end of Luton's runway and well within the ATZ.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: If that's what the law requires...

        Mark Thomas had an excellent protest going against the laws on registering demonstrations in advance with the police. He had a group of people doing demos in Parliament Square. On one they iced their demands on cakes. Another was 10 x 5 minute demos in sequence, where he had a banner caddie with his different demands in a wheelie bin - and their ten stamped permission forms laminated and glued to the inside of the lid.

        He did a brilliant Radio 4 comedy about it - and it was the proper way to protest against an absurd law - by being absurd in return.

        After all it was only brought in to get rid of that Brian whatsisname who protested in Parliament Square over iraq for years on end, and it turned out it didn't apply to him, because his protest had already started and English law isn't normally retrospective. Doh!

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: If that's what the law requires...

        Clubs are a great way to get some slack. If you are into hobby rocketry, having an organized club sort out all of the permissions is the easiest all around. There are lots of model aircraft clubs. If you are out in the country, unless you are being annoying nobody is going to come out and write a ticket.

        Staying away from airports with a drone is just good sense. Perhaps it would be good to carve out an exception for commercially licensed operators that have passed a rigorous test so they can fly a drone closer to photograph/video real estate and perform inspections of structures closer in to airports. The cameras on the drones have Ultra F'in Wide Angle (UFWA) lenses on them so there is no need to fly them 100'm over something to get an image. If it's a big plot of land, several images can be made and assembled in Photoshop which will return a higher resolution too.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: If that's what the law requires...

      In the US you are directed to NOT call the ATC or local airport but must file a waiver request with the FAA in advance. The last thing they want is people flooding the ATC with calls to just be told no. If you are doing work on an airport, it is possible to get waiver quickly and a NOTAM filed. Virgin Galactic likes to get aerial images of Space Ship Two and White Knight Two when they are taxiing out and after they have returned. The difference is that the operation is being done by experienced aircraft operators with direct communication with the tower and the airport is closed when they do a flight.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    amazon delivery drones

    weren't amazon piloting a drone delivery system? what's gonna happen to that?

    1. druck Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: amazon delivery drones

      Outlawed as it damn well should be.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: amazon delivery drones

        @druck "Outlawed as it damn well should be."

        I'm now imagining Amazon delivery drones in Lincoln Green, robbing from the rich (Amazon) and delivering to the poor,.....

    2. Arty Effem

      Re: amazon delivery drones

      "weren't amazon piloting a drone delivery system? what's gonna happen to that?"

      It'll carry on as normal, with all the drones driving around in vans as they do now.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: amazon delivery drones

      Amazon already has dozens of cargo aircraft on lease and Amazon Logistics will soon have access to fleets of outsourced drones.

      These won't be just any drones. They'll be Amazon Prime drones. Innovative, disruptive, authorized. Market-leading, corporately profitable and yet also untaxable.

      https://www.commercialdroneprofessional.com/amazon-opens-manchester-office-as-part-of-prime-air-expansion/

      (yes it's Manchester in NW England, not one of the many Manchesters in the USA).

      https://www.operationzenith.com/manchester-airport/ Operation Zenith, 21 November 2018.

      https://www.operationzenith.com/delivery-partners/

      Brought to you in cooperation with DJI (you know who they are, right?), NATS (aka National Air Traffic Services), NPAS (National Police Air Service), Vodafone, the "Transport Systems Catapult"(!), and various others including the University of Manchester.

      Wtf ?

      Wtff?

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: amazon delivery drones

      I think that was just a publicity campaign. Given the flight time of drones, the distance between the warehouse and delivery point would have to be fairly close. The noise from the drones is annoying so neighbors under the heaviest flight paths would create fuss and the drones would have to operate pretty low since the can't "see and avoid" which is a requirement for small aircraft flying under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). Aircraft flying IFR are flying at thousands of feet. IFR flights are also filed in advance which would be tough for instant drone deliveries.

      The Amazon drones would make good sport. Knock one down, throw a copper screen around it to prevent is yelling for its mother and you'd have a nice store of parts to DIY your own drone. I'd be before too long some Chinese electronics firm would be selling a replacement control board and remote that would bypass any anti-theft precautions.

      Drones deliveries wouldn't be for a pack of bog rolls, they would be hauling stuff like iPhones and other small, light and expensive kit. The service cost would be pretty high so they'd make good targets not only for the drone, but whatever cargo they are delivering. I guess if you are really bad at planning purchases ahead and have lots of money to throw around, drone delivery might be for you, but with the warehouse close by, I could either pick the item up or have it delivered by the next day for much less.

  8. Oddlegs

    Given you're already not allowed to fly a drone within 50m of people, private property or vehicles those children flying a toy drone in their back garden are likely already breaking the law

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Private property, without the permission of the owner, no?

      1. DTaylor

        Not quite. The 50m rule applies to people who are not under the control of the operator so as long as the young child pops around to all the neighbours and informs them of their intent and provides a degree of control over the local population, they're fine!

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Usually the rule is "uninvolved persons" and it's meant to protect the public at events and parks, etc. If you are filming a car driving on an out of the way road where everybody is involved, that's not likely to be an issue. A kid in the garden with their parents supervising is not a problem. Flying over people trying to have a nice picnic at the park that you don't know is a problem.

      Type "Drone fail" into YouTube and dive in for lots of accidents. The one that always stands out for me is a very large commercial drone that impacts millimeters behind a skier on a downhill racing course. "Crash" would be an insufficient description. It burst into pieces and made a small crater. If it had come down on the spectators, it was big enough that it could have killed somebody or caused very serious injuries. Another good one is a very bad operator flying one from the balcony of a skyscraper in New York until he smashed into the side of one too many buildings and his drone dropped many stories and landed pretty close to somebody on the pavement who scooped it up and sold the footage to the local TV news station. I don't think the owner was going to be too keen about retrieving his property or claiming Copyright on the video.

  9. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    De minimis non curat lex

    should be a reasonable defense, even these days.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: De minimis non curat lex

      That nearly went out of the window with the prosecution of the guy who "threatened" to blow up Robin Hood Airport and he had to go to Appeal to find a sensible judge.

      Getting rid of the de minimis rule is part of the current ploy to control the masses by ensuring there is something they can charge you with that will involve prison time.

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: De minimis non curat lex

        Getting rid of the de minimis rule is part of the current ploy to control the masses by ensuring there is something they can charge you with that will involve prison time.

        Like spoiling a ballot paper, or breathing on the wrong side of the road.

        1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: De minimis non curat lex

          Quote

          Like spoiling a ballot paper, or breathing on the wrong side of the road.

          --

          you forgot being in possession of an offensive wife, walking on the cracks in the pavement, and wearing a loud tie without a proper licence.

          1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

            Re: De minimis non curat lex

            Wasn't it wearing a loud shirt during the hours of darkness ?

            Not to mention, possession of thick lips and curly black hair.

      2. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: De minimis non curat lex

        We just need to wait for the 'Environment act - Excessive CO2 Production' law and they can put us all away forever for breathing.

        (Buy shares in Rebreather manufacturers now!)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The way the restriction zone increase has been worded means in practice you could have a scenario of a child needing their parent to call ATC for permission to fly a £15 toy drone the size of a biscuit in their garden, which frankly is madness,"

    No it really is not.

    The drone code says you cant fly the things in your garden anyway as they would be too close to your neighbors houses and their delicate bodies.

    If you are near an ATZ of an airport NOBODY should be flying anything. It matters not if you are a "responsible" or licensed drone operator. Stay on the ground. The law is very clear that every centimetre of air from ground level to space is sacred, certainly around the ATZ, and is the dominion of pilots and passengers.

    I think that anyone flying anything in an ATZ needs that thing shot out of the sky by automatic air rifles on top of poles. Take out the birds too, they will get the message and nest away from the ATZ. My brother had been given a "heliball" for his birthday and it was totally unable to handle being indoors so he took it outside where with no way to bring it back or switch it off it happily flew off at great height and was never seen again.

    Kites are tethered so can be pulled in, radio controlled planes and helicopters are restricted to club flying in a field miles away from anyone and any roads. Why should quadcopters / drones be free to roam? Tether them at least.

    I mean come on. What exactly can someone do with a drone? What use are they actually? If someone buys an expensive lawnmower and has no lawn, isnt that seen as strange? Drones have as much use as a car that is missing an engine.

    1. P13DM

      You could have a detached property or permission from your neighbours, ergo they are then in your control. It was one scenario, we could just as easily say a field.

      The point of this story is sub 250g, the likes of nano drones, it is ludicrous when applying common sense to require ATC permission to fly a genuine toy drone, hence the emphasis in this example of a £15 drone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The point of this story is sub 250g, the likes of nano drones, it is ludicrous when applying common sense to require ATC permission to fly a genuine toy drone, hence the emphasis in this example of a £15 drone."

        No, I think it is all or nothing. It does not matter is its a toy, it has no business being in the air. In fact that probably applies more because it is a toy. Even toys like these go wrong, fly off and smash up the internals of a planes engine. Or they fly off and blind the poor lad down the street. The toy ones cant handle a wind so could simply be blown off. Tether them, that might do it. Otherwise put wheels on them and make them roll around the ground like radio control toys should.

        1. P13DM

          You haven't understood the scenario, for one there's already a 1 km boundary and there's no disagreement with that. This scenario is talking about when you widen that.

          A nano drone isn't going to fly that far to get kilometers away even with a malfunction. The question is do ATC even want to be handling calls for genuine toys? The chances are they don't, would it not be prudent to ask that question? Should ATC be picking a workload for toys which has come about due to political pressure to legislate?

          There's no way a nano or any sub 251g is damaging an airliner, the testing done to date has shown you have to rig a test using a 4kg javelin shaped drone to even penetrate a windshield. Larger drones in testing cannot cause an uncontained engine failure.

          We're talking about the issue of biscuit sized drones for the purposes of the £15 debate.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " the testing done to date has shown you have to rig a test using a 4kg javelin shaped drone to even penetrate a windshield."

            I don't think that was actually the summary that report gave, and unless you've got some other references of testing, I don't think a single data point is all that useful when considering a very large number of combinations of drone mass/geometry/impact speed and aircraft design. As for your next point:-

            "Larger drones in testing cannot cause an uncontained engine failure."

            Citation Needed. I am not aware of any physical testing that has been done to prove this either way.

            1. P13DM

              A nano drone couldn't take a model aircraft out of the sky, never mind a real one. Meanwhile on the matter of larger drones, which this article is NOT about, knock yourself out by reading the data from ASSUREuas that are researching matters on behalf of the FAA.

              It's worth noting the DMAE even spoke out about the UK study and internationally known engineers such as Philip Rowse have condemned the test methodology and lack of transparent data.

              The ASSUREuas data that was modelling on real drone designs found far less need for alarm.

              http://www.assureuas.org/projects/deliverables/sUASAirborneCollisionReport.php

              Meanwhile you might want to absorb this view from an air accident investigator discussing drones 1-2kg in weight, again a considerable magnitude of mass higher than this story is discussing:

              https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/drones/what-might-happen-if-airliner-hit-small-drone

          2. Number6

            Larger drones in testing cannot cause an uncontained engine failure.

            I think they'd prefer to avoid engine failures even if contained. Jet engines aren't cheap.

            I suspect a toy drone wouldn't even be noticed as it got disintegrated by the engine though. They're designed to withstand hailstones, some of which may well be bigger and tougher than a flimsy bit of plastic and fibreglass.

          3. MachDiamond Silver badge

            " Larger drones in testing cannot cause an uncontained engine failure."

            A piece of foam that came off of the external tank of Space Shuttle Columbia damaged the leading edge of a wing and caused the craft to fail on reentry.

            If a drone gets sucked through a jet engine, that engine must undergo a full inspection. If a drone impacts any part of an aircraft in flight it triggers an unplanned inspection. That grounds the aircraft and will usually mean a whole bunch of people are going to miss their flights. A smaller propeller aircraft built of lighter construction could take even more damage. So, is it likely that a jet engine will fail after ingesting a drone and cause the plane to crash? Probably not, but there is still a very small chance. It also has to be realized that take-offs and landings are the most dangerous portions of a flight. Losing power or having to shut down an engine would be a big problem. A drone getting lodged in the flap mechanism preventing normal operation is a problem. Scaring the hell out of the pilot by smacking into the windshield is not good either.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Why don't we train birds with red flags in their beaks to fly in front of drones for safety? While there may be serious risks to a jet engine that eats a 2.5 kg drone, the one that can't chomp up a 200g nano drone without imploding will have a fairly miserable time in a mild hail storm. And the 'blind the poor lad down the street' argument is surely recycled from a 'conkers are lethal' council scare?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Your 'every centimetre from ground to space comment' suggests that you haven't ever looked at airspace restrictions. Airdrome CTZs extend to 2000 foot agl. It's by no means uncommon to fly a non-radio light aircraft over the top of an aerodrome CTZ without seeking permission (if other restrictions don't apply, though it's not exactly good etiquette). Not that that has much relevance to drones that shouldn't go over 120 metres.

      Drones are frivolous toys but then so are many many other things in life. Still a utilitarian 'everything must have a function' world works fine in North Korea, so why not? Can I ban football? Noisy - causes traffic congestion , clogs up TV schedules, crowds out real news from newspapers. And 'amateur' football is worse - literally hundreds of injuries every week, innocent children with broken bones, sprains and cuts. Ban it now!

    3. DTaylor

      What use does a drone have?

      Personally, I would find trying to hold a camera 50m above me to get an elevated photo to be quite tiring!

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      " What exactly can someone do with a drone? What use are they actually?"

      Estate agents love them to get photos of a property they are trying to sell. There are commercial operators that hire out to perform inspections of roofs, radio towers, sides of high rise buildings and other elevated places that are difficult or dangerous to access. Naturalists use them to study bird's nests and do counts on cliffsides and in high trees. Broadcasters use them to map the radiation pattern of transmitter antennas. Farmers use them with special cameras to inspect fields remotely. The list goes on and on. Private use is for fun. Previously the only way you could get an aerial photo is spend a big pile of money to hire out a plane or helicopter to take you up. For far less, you can buy a drone and do it yourself.

  11. steviebuk Silver badge

    So this ban...

    ...is clearly not going to stop any terrorist is it. And now they know they no longer need bombs. Just fly a drone near an airport and will have the same sort of affect.

    Obviously I don't condone this but banning the drones won't stop crooks flying them.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: So this ban...

      Obviously I don't condone this

      There is no 'obviously' in the brave new world which legislates against flimsy pieces of plastic weighing barely an ounce and incapable of flying for more than about eight minutes.

  12. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    On the other hand, if everyone in the affected area were to ring up the airport every time they wanted to fly a toy drone in their garden, the rule would be off the books in record time.

  13. Steve McGuinness

    I would be fascinated to know

    If someone could draw a quick map circling a 2.5 mile radius from the edge of each of the functioning airports within the UK and see how many houses it covers.

    I suspect it will be north of 100,000.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: I would be fascinated to know

      If someone could draw a quick map circling a 2.5 mile radius from the edge of each of the functioning airports within the UK and see how many houses it covers.

      I suspect it will be north of 100,000.

      A quick play with Google Maps' distance finding shows that pretty much all of Cambridge is within the limit of Cambridge airport. That's 51,000 houses affected by one small-ish(*) airport alone.

      (*) Technically Cambridge is an international airport, but if you want to declare anything coming through customs you have to phone up the customs guy the day before. However, Marshalls Aerospace services some bloody big planes which fly in and out.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: I would be fascinated to know

        Having seen a couple of Russian 747s (which had visited Marshals for refurbishment) taking off using every inch of runway, and passing very low over Cambridge station, you wouldn't want them to encounter any drones, it could wipe out half the city.

  14. M7S

    Is there a list of ATC phone numbers?

    and any definition of what constitutes an airport for the purporses of this regulation?

    Simply as I live about 7mi from a major airport and about 3 from a small airfield.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Is there a list of ATC phone numbers?

      >and any definition of what constitutes an airport for the purporses of this regulation?

      Yes, there is a list. If you follow the links through 'textual information' there are phone numbers as well.

  15. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Situation Normal

    Lots of ordinary law abiding people considerably inconvenienced.

    Crims laughing their sox off.

  16. Number6

    Sadly, the way to fix this is for parents to do exactly that, call ATC and ask for permission to fly their drone in the garden. Pressure will soon mount for the government to stop the complete waste of everyone's time and re-introduce the exemption.

  17. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    More legislative insanity...

    The new regulations require owners of drones to register with the CAA. There is no mention of shops, dealers or traders.

    So if you want to trade or supply drones, better make sure your premises are more than 3 miles from an airport otherwise you could find yourself in the situation of importing a special model for a client; having to register your ownership of it; selling it to the client; and then un-registering your ownership of it. Every time.

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Always the same with "urgent" legislation brought in in the wake of something that hits the news. It hits the innocent and/or is difficult to bring home against the real offenders. And that "and" is more likely than "or".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about the flying cars

    Tomorrows World promised us 50 years ago?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: But what about the flying cars

      The ones being shown on Tomorrows World were proper aircraft with wings and all. The scary things they show in the news now with 8 propellers and run on batteries are properly scary. I don't want them flying over me or anywhere near a motorway. Imagine one of those coming down on the M25 in the middle of the afternoon. Even if it doesn't hit anybody, the traffic will be buggered for ages.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excessive

    There's clearly a need for an exclusion zone, but what's the justification for a 2.9 mile radius, and why is the same radius needed at smaller runways?

    The maximum height you can fly a drone is (around) 400ft, but no aircraft requires 2.9 miles to climb or descend above 400ft.

    If drone filers are to be registered, a permit to fly within some areas of these restricted zones could be granted (avoiding the need to seek permission for every flight, while granting powers to restrict access to untrusted flyers).

    1. IDoNotThinkSo

      Re: Excessive

      I take vegetation monitoring pictures of a large wildlife site from 25m. Much of it is rather wet and inaccessible.

      If any plane is flying at 80ft, 4km from the small airfield nearby, then they've got more problems than my drone. Electricity pylons, for a start. I very much doubt there is anyone there 24/7 to call, either.

      Anyway, if the powers that be get their way, no purchased drone will be able to take off in the restricted zone, because they'll be hard-coded not to. Although mine will, because I built it. Perhaps that will make it an illegal item?

      What a joke this is.

      It seems that all they really want is a list of people to arrest next time someone sees a UFO at Gatwick.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Excessive

      but no aircraft requires 2.9 miles to climb or descend above 400ft.

      It's certainly true that all aircraft can be persuaded to descend 400 feet vertically while moving barely a few feet laterally.

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Excessive

      Normally, no it doesn't take all that distance to climb or descend, but if an aircraft has to go around, they might not be climbing back to a few thousand feet and may be turning into the pattern much closer than a departure. A plane may also come in on a short base from the pattern instead of flying a mile past the end of the runway for a long line up. The 2.9 miles is to anticipate those sorts of things plus a little margin. I was just watching a video on YouTube (just audio) where a 17 y.o. girl was doing her first solo flight in training to get her license and when she took off somebody spotting that one of the wheels fell off. She was very noticeably frightened and the tower had her circle around for a little while so a couple of inbound flights that were very close to land and she could burn off some fuel. They also wanted to get her instructor up in the tower to talk to her while people on the ground looked at the plane to see how much damage the plane had (it was just the wheel). Chances are that she wasn't pinpoint perfect on flying the pattern and if some yahoo had put up a drone, it could have spooked her. Spoiler, she made a perfect emergency landing and walked away with not even a bruise though she may have needed a change of trousers. Even the damage to the plane was minor.

  21. old_IT_guy

    Unthinking authoritarianism - one of Mrs. May's defining characteristics. Unsurprisingly, her government departments reflect her malfunction. The other side, if they were in, would do something even more daft - mine isn't a party partisan statement, they all suck big hairy goat balls, and if there was a "none of the above" on my ballot paper, I'd always be ticking that. Fuck the lot of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Uncaring authoritarianism...

      TFTFY

  22. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Meh

    Drone use?

    The obvious (to me) use would be to inspect the condition of roof and guttering of my house without having to use ladders.

    The unpopular use would be to accompany the Google Street View vehicles as a robot swarm, updating the aerial views in high resolution.

    Win some lose some scenario.

  23. ForthIsNotDead
    Unhappy

    Fucking Idiots

    So now, small children and their parents, playing with a drone in *their garden* are to be criminalised, whereas the genuine criminals don't and won't give a fuck and will do it anyway.

    As will I. I'm going to stop my 8 year old son from playing with his £20 toy drone on our property, even though we live close to Aberdeen Airport.

  24. Mark Dempster

    Sightings?

    Virtually all the reported sightings were at times when it would have been very dark. Even if the alleged drone had navigation lights on it, it would be very difficult to distinguish them from the lights of real aircraft - and there would be plenty of those in the area.

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