Thursday 22 March 2018

Drone nation: IAA cracks down ahead of Christmas to preempt safety and privacy concerns

There are about 5000 drones in Ireland at the moment
There are about 5000 drones in Ireland at the moment Newsdesk Newsdesk

The ‘number one toy for Christmas’ will come with a host of new rules next week as new legislation governing the use of drones will could into effect.

Aimed at preempting mounting concerns over safety and privacy, the new regulations impose far stricter rules on the popular unmanned aircraft.

From December 21st, all drones weighing 1kg or more will need to be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

They will be banned from going within 5km of airports, military installations and prisons, and other restricted areas.

The unmanned aircraft will also be prohibited from rising to more than 400ft above ground level, from being 300 metres away from their operator and from flying over large groups of people unless permission is given by the IAA.

Currently there is an estimated 5,000 drones in Ireland but this number is expected to double this Christmas.

“The rise in consumer demand and availability has made the introduction of safety regulations essential,” said Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe.

“I expect hundreds if not thousands of drones to be bought as presents this Christmas so getting the message to ensure that  new owners and operators are aware of their responsibilities is key.

“I am convinced that the use of these units in the future is going to grow at a dramatic pace and that they will be used in ways and for services that at the moment are not evident to us.”

Other emerging issues such as data protection and privacy will be addressed by the Department of Justice, he added.

From next February a €5 fee will apply for the registration, but in order to encourage early registration, no fee will be charged initially.

To register a drone, a user must be 16 or older, and drones operated by those under 16 must be registered by a parent or legal guardian.

Model aircraft and rockets will also come under the umbrella of the new legislation.

Ralph James, IAA Director of Safety Regulation, said: “Ireland is already recognised worldwide as a centre of excellence for civil aviation and the drone sector presents another major opportunity for Ireland.

“We would strongly encourage drone operators to register with us as quickly as possible, to complete a training course and to become aware of their responsibilities.

“People operating drones must do so in safe and responsible manner and in full compliance with the new regulations.”

Under the new legislation drone users must never operating a drone:

  • if it will be a hazard to another aircraft in flight
  • over an assembly of people
  • farther than 300m from the operator
  • within 120m of any person, vessel or structure not under the operator’s control
  • closer than 5km from an aerodrome
  • in a negligent or reckless manner so as to endanger life or property of others
  • over 400ft (120m) above ground level
  • over urban areas
  • in civil of military controlled airspace
  • in restricted areas (e.g. military installations, prisons, etc.)
  • unless the operator has permission from the landowner for takeoff and landing.

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