The popularity of drones is set to jump sky-high this Christmas, with nearly a quarter of consumers planning on buying one over the festive period. This burst of interest could potentially add another 1.5 million extra drones to UK airspace.
Research from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and its DroneSafe campaign has revealed that drones are one of this year's hottest Christmas presents: with 63 per cent of drones bought set to be given as a gift. That makes it key that people are given drone safety information with their drone to pass on with the present.
The CAA is therefore warning consumers to make sure they buy a drone from a responsible retailer that will make sure the drone comes with a copy of the CAA's Dronecode and can provide other safety advice. This was backed up by the survey results with 69 per cent revealing that they would prefer to buy a drone from a responsible retailer - showing clear demand for expert advice at the point of purchase that can be passed on to the person flying the drone.
Worryingly, of those planning to buy a drone over the Christmas period, over a quarter (27 per cent) were unaware of the rules surrounding their usage in the UK. Drone users must fly responsibly and follow the simple set of rules laid out in the CAA's Dronecode. Anyone found guilty of endangering an aircraft with a drone could go to prison for up to five years.
Jonathan Nicholson, Assistant Director of Communications at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) commented:
“Drones are the latest 'must-have' technology, and while the spike in purchases is good news for both the industry and retailers, we must ensure that users are properly educated on responsible flying.
“Ensuring that consumers are able to use their drones safely and legally is critical, and so far, our work with retailers has been invaluable in ensuring that drone-buyers get a copy of the Dronecode and are able to access all the information they need.
“And for consumers who want to learn more about the dos and don'ts of drone flying - everything you need to know to fly responsibly can be found at www.dronesafe.uk .”
Andrew Uden, Technical Director at Maplin commented:
“Over the last year we've worked hard to ensure that we're retailing drones in a responsible way, educating new and existing owners on safe usage by driving awareness of the CAA's Dronecode.
As one of the most popular purchases this Christmas, it is vital that we continue to provide the best possible advice and guidance for our customers, to ensure they can enjoy flying their new purchases safely.”
Commitment from UK retailers
The research follows the launch of the CAA's responsible retailer scheme, in which compliant retailers will be awarded with a DroneSafe approval should they follow the initiative's criteria - always making sure purchasers get the Dronecode and other safety advice. So far those signing up for the scheme include Maplin, Currys PC World, and Menkind.
Retailers can apply to join the initiative by declaring to the CAA that they meet the criteria and submitting their details. The CAA supports any measure to improve drone safety but, as a regulator, cannot endorse individual retailers or products.
The initiative is the latest in the CAA's ongoing campaign to highlight safe and responsible drone use and its Dronecode, a simple set of rules designed to promote safe and responsible use:
- Don't fly near airports or airfields
- Remember to stay below 400ft (120m) and at least 150ft (50m) away from buildings and people
- Observe your drone at all times
- Never fly near aircraft
- Enjoy responsibly
The Dronecode is available to download at www.dronesafe.uk.
Please note: the Dronecode is for consumer drone use, those using a drone commercially must be approved.