First successful UK prosecution for unsafe flying of a drone.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the National Police Air Service (NPAS) welcome the guilty verdict Peterborough Magistrates Court for a drone user found to be flying his drone dangerously. The verdict sends a very clear message to drone users that unsafe flying is totally unacceptable and could result in going to prison for up to five years.

Sergej Miaun was found guilty on two following charges:

  • Fail to maintain direct, unaided visual contact with small unmanned aircraft. Contrary to articles 94(3) and 265(6) of the Air Navigation Order 2016
  • Fly small unmanned aircraft when not reasonably satisfied that the flight can safely be made. Contrary to articles 94(2) and 265(6) of the Air Navigation Order 2016

He was fined £184 with £280 court costs and forced to forfeit his drone. He got away lightly!

A police helicopter was on a mission to help locate a missing woman in the River Nene in Guyhirn in Cambridgeshire when the incident happened. The crew of the helicopter saw the drone pass underneath them and recorded the incident on the helicopter’s camera. The drone was seen to land in a garden by the helicopter crew who guided police on the ground to the property.

Captain Lee Holmes was flying the police helicopter. He said :
“It came as a great surprise” when the drone first appeared on the screen they were using to try and find the missing woman.

My first assumption was it was being used by the fire brigade or the police and we were not aware of it,”

 “We quickly established that was not the case”, he said

Describing the incident, Captain Holmes said:
“The problem is we did not know its size or scale and didn’t know what we were dealing with or who was controlling it. We assumed the person was in the water but had to forget about that because I had something in my airspace.”

After losing sight of the drone Captain Holmes had to take “evasive action” to bring the helicopter further up so he could “build up situational awareness”.

 

James Cunningham, Head of Aviation Safety for the National Police Air Service (NPAS) said:
“We welcome the prosecution as it provides absolute clarity that flying a drone in this way is unacceptable and dangerous. This is the first case of conflict between one of our helicopters and a small unmanned aircraft. Not only did it put our crew in danger, it disrupted our search for a vulnerable missing person.

Police air support is a vital tool available to police forces of England and Wales. Flying at average speeds of 138mph, searching for missing people or suspects by air is twenty times faster than other options and saves local police valuable time when it matters.”

Jonathan Nicholson, CAA Assistant Director said:
“Flying a drone like this is totally unacceptable. Anyone operating a drone must do so responsibly and follow the rules and regulations which are designed to keep all airspace users safe. The CAA’s Dronecode provides advice on how to fly your drone safely and follow the rules. you can see it at www.dronesafe.uk

Drones have an amazing future that we all want to help achieve. But if we are to successfully make that happen then we need all drone users to fly safely now.”

The UK drone laws state that it is against the law to fly a drone above 400ft or within 1km of an airfield boundary. If your drone recklessly or negligently endangers an aircraft it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for up to five years.

Source: CAA Website

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