UK’s new drone proposals to allow flying medical deliveries, rail checks

By Thomson Reuters Feb 20, 2024 | 4:32 AM

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain wants to permit more drone flying for uses such as delivering medical supplies and inspecting railways and power lines, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said on Tuesday.

The regulator has put forward proposals which would allow drones to be flown beyond the visual line of sight, meaning remote pilots could rely solely on the drone camera.

Under the proposed new rules, drones would be permitted to fly only at low heights and close to buildings and infrastructure, where few other aircraft operate.

Currently drone users in Britain are only permitted to fly beyond the visual line of sight as part of trials with strict restrictions.

Drones could benefit a range of industries, the CAA said, such as security firms guarding property, maintenance companies surveying infrastructure, flying medical supplies to emergencies or allowing farmers to view their land.

The new regime could also pave the way for retailers such as Amazon and parcel companies to use drones to make deliveries further in the future.

Kevin Woolsey, the CAA’s head of remotely piloted aircraft systems, said the proposals would maintain safety levels while unlocking the next stage of drone flying in Britain.

“Allowing drones to fly beyond the sight of the remote pilot, without placing restrictions on other aircraft in the area, will be a major achievement for UK drone operations,” he said.

The proposals will be subject to a six-week consultation, with amendments made if necessary and the changes brought in over the next 12 months.

Drones would need to stay within 30 metres of a building or 15 metres of a structure such as a road or railway under the proposals, while on private property, they would be allowed to be flown as long as their height does not exceed 15 metres.

(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Jason Neely)