Drones are very popular these days, particularly since there are more and more affordable options available. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) estimates that an extra 1.5 million drones will be bought in the run up to Christmas (many as gifts), and wants to make sure people know how to be responsible with their mini aerial gizmo.
The CAA is asking that people buy a drone from responsible retailers, and to make sure that each one comes with a copy of the 'Dronecode' - a list of rules drone users need to follow when they're flying it around. Considering the law might be getting the power to seize drones from irresponsible users, this is the kind of thing every drone user should memorise.
While the CAA's research (in conjunction with DroneSafe) found that 69 per cent of consumers would prefer to buy a drone from a responsible retailer, it also found that 27 per cent of people surveyed didn't realised that drone safety rules aren't optional. They're a legal requirement, and have to be followed.
25 per cent of people surveyed also weren't aware that there was a height limit for civilian drone usage (400ft/120m), and 22 per cent didn't realise that there are places that they're not allowed to fly their drones. Suddenly all those drones crashing into planes near airports make total sense. And some people wonder why the government wants stricter drone safety laws.
The only restricted airspace mentioned in the drone code is that around airports and airfields, with a penalty of up to five years in prison is your erratic droning endangers an aircraft. There are apps that will show you were you can and can not fly, and plan your routes accordingly (something which may be put into law at some point). Common sense says you should stay away from airports as mentioned, plus prisons, military bases, houses and large buildings, and others areas normally off limits to the public (like private property, or restricted areas).
There's no need to worry about who constitutes a 'responsible retailer' though. The CAA has set up a new responsible retailer scheme that awards DroneSafe approval is they match the right criteria. So far Maplin, Currys PC Wold, and MenKind have signed up, and the CAA will let others apply for approval.
So keep all that in mind if you're planning on buying a drone anytime in the future.