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Govt moves to tighten rules for drones

All drones operated in Gibraltar will need special permission from the Director of Civil Aviation under draft legislation that aims to prevent incidents such as those that brought Gatwick Airport to standstill last year.

The amendment to the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation) Regulations 2009 was published in a Command Paper yesterday.

Once approved, the legislation will impact all drones, including toy drones weighing less than 250 grams.

A statement from the Government of Gibraltar said this new requirement will mirror UK legislation which requires drone operators to obtain similar permissions when flying near an airport.

The Minister for Civil Aviation, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, said: “The disruption suffered by Gatwick Airport shortly before Christmas brought into sharp focus the problems that unauthorised drone flying close to airfields can cause and I welcome these new procedures for controlling the use of these devices.”

At present, all aircraft under 7kg are exempted from the majority of the requirements, but this legislation will affect all drones flown for either leisure or commercial purposes.

The legislation will see a differentiation between the drone operator and the remote pilot, placing responsibilities and requirements on both – in many cases this will be the same person, but this will future-proof for when a company owns more than one drone and employs different pilots to operate them.

All drone operators, except for those operating toy drones, will also have to register with the Director of Civil Aviation by January 1, 2020, and this will incur a charge.

In addition, all remote pilots will have to prove their “piloting competency” to the Director of Civil Aviation by January 1, 2020, except for those operating toy drones.

An additional amendment will require all drones weighing more than 250 grams to display a registration code.

Dr Garcia said: “Local interest in the operation of drones continues to rise and there are now a total of five local operators recognised by the Director of Civil Aviation.”