News that UK drone pilots will face new rules before they are allowed to operate the UAV’s has been welcomed by insurers as a step in the right direction towards greater safety.
The UK government has implemented new rules which require registration and the introduction of an online test for UK drone operators. From 30 November anyone responsible for operating a drone weighing more than 250g must register their details with the Civil Aviation Authority and answer a series of multiple choice questions or face a fine of £1,000.
The requirements have been welcomed by the International Underwriting Association (IUA). The Association said it has been lobbying for such requirements for a number of years and recommended to government in industry consultation papers.
Chris Jones, Director of Legal and Market Services at the IUA, said: “Commercial drone pilots have been coming under increasingly strict scrutiny for some time now. It is important that appropriate checks are in place for all operators given the potentially significant risks to property and public safety.
“Insurers are well prepared for the part they can play in supporting the safe use of drones in UK airspace and users should carefully consider the support that insurance cover can provide in managing liabilities.”
Pilot registration was one of a number of recommendations published in a report by Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee and backed by the IUA. These included a recommendation that the Government should complete an assessment of the risk drones pose to manned commercial aircraft and publish the results by the end of 2020. The Committee also urged legal clarification of privacy issues surrounding the use of drones, which it believes will increase with future improvements in technology.
IUA members have formed a Developing Technology Monitoring Group which harnesses expertise from across a number of traditional insurance classes to assess new technologies. The group has provided insurance expertise to the Department for Transport ahead of amendments to an Air Navigation Order on the safe use of drones in the UK. It has also published research addressing the capabilities of counter-drone technology and the growing use of on-demand insurance for drone operators.
Mr Jones added: “Aviation drones offer exciting opportunities in many different areas across the UK economy and society as a whole. If their benefits are to be maximised, insurance will need to be part of a well-structured supervisory framework that priorities safety.”