New drone legislation reduces ‘drone friendly’ sky area by half the size of Wales


Altitude Angel, a world-leading aviation technology company, has today released the new-look restricted airspace maps for the UK and Northern Ireland ahead of increased airport no-fly regulations coming in to force on Wednesday this week.

FieldHouse Associates

In February the government announced new legislation to extend the ‘no-fly’ zone around airports, banning drones from flying within five kilometres of runways, up from one kilometre, with the new law coming in to force on 13, March 2019.

The revised airspace map, generated by Altitude Angel, has revealed 9,182 square kilometres of airspace (or nearly 3,545 square miles), which equates to an area approximately half the size of Wales, will be restricted in and around UK airports and aerodromes. Under the previous restrictions, just 1,800 square kilometres of airspace around airports were off-limits to drones.

Whilst many urban and residential areas will remain unaffected by the new regulations (as airports, by their very nature, are often in less densely populated areas), several towns and cities will now find themselves within the updated ‘no-fly’ zones, which will restrict the use of drones in those areas. Examples include Manchester, Luton and Cambridge, with large areas of the city suburbs and towns falling within the restricted zones of Manchester, Stanstead and Cambridge airports.

Likewise, residents of Crawley who wish to fly drones will also be forced to fly them further afield as the revised no-fly zone over Gatwick covers the Sussex town.

Richard Parker, Altitude Angel, CEO and founder, said: “These new restrictions mean that the requirement for airports to engage with drone operators will increase. Our GuardianUTM O/S platform provides a mechanism to automate and where necessary involve air traffic controllers in providing digitised approvals so that legitimate, approved drone use within these zones can flourish.”

The government is also working to progress a new Drones Bill which will be introduced in due course. It will give police officers powers to stop and search people suspected of using drones maliciously above 400ft or within 5km of an airport — which they claim will help to tackle disruption such as that seen at Gatwick in December. It will also give additional new powers to the police to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft — including the power to access electronic data stored on a drone or other equipment with a warrant.