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Tue, Jun 11, 2019

U.K. Model Aircraft Pilots Chafe Under Proposed Drone Regulations

Argue That They Should Not Be Lumped In With Drone Operators

Model airplane pilots in the U.K. are taking issue with proposed drone regulations set to go into effect in November, saying that the new rules could cause harm to their long-standing hobby.

The BBC reports that representatives of the British Model Flying Association (BMFA) met the Aviation Minister Baroness Vere last week to discuss the situation.

Under the proposal, the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) would require the operators of all unmanned aircraft, including model airplanes, to pay a registration fee equivalent to about $21, acquire a license and take a competency test every three years. BMFA chief executive David Phipps said the proposed regulations should not be applied to model airplane pilots. "We have established an excellent safety record that surpasses commercial aviation over a century of flying. European laws grant special recognition to model flying, saying it should be treated differently but the UK has not done this," he told the BBC.

Phipps said the registration fee could present a "barrier to entry" into the hobby, particularly for some young people. He also said the proposed CAA test is not as comprehensive as the BMFA's safety tests, and said such regulations would encourage members to ignore the rules.

The proposal follows incidents that caused major disruptions at some U.K. airports last year.

Aviation Minister Baroness Vere defended the CAA's position. "While the majority of people flying model aircraft do so responsibly, the registration scheme will increase accountability for all unmanned aircraft operators," she said.

"All unmanned aircraft, whether fixed wing model aircraft or drones, have the potential to pose a safety and security threat. The proposed registration scheme and charges are in line with other hobby licensing, such as fishing."

(Image from file)

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