2016 has seen the popularity of drones continue to grow but, as
drone sales increase, concerns over safety have also grown.
In September a passenger plane was in a near-miss with a drone
as it came in to land at Birmingham Airport.1 The UK
Airprox Board (UKAB) report states that "the drone operator,
by operating at that position and altitude [around 500ft] on the
approach path to Birmingham airport, had flown the drone into
conflict and had endangered the DH8 and its passengers." The
incident followed near-misses at Manchester and London earlier in
the year2, and the unauthorised operation of drones in
close proximity to commercial airlines and airports is on the
These events were some of 60 near-misses in British skies over
the last twelve months, according to UKAB data. This number has
risen from 6 incidents in 2014 and 29 in 2015.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules require that drones may not
be operated above 400ft nor in proximity to airports.
The increase in near-misses tracks the growing popularity of the
devices. Although reliable sales data is unavailable in the U.K. at
present, in the U.S. the Federal Aviation Authority reported that
twice as many drones were expected to be sold in 2016 compared to
the previous year.3 In the U.K., Maplin cited greater
drone sales as contributing to its increase in sales against the
previous year.4 The growth in drone sales amongst
hobbyists corresponds to increased investment by commercial
operators, as the number registered with the CAA grew from around
1,300 companies at the end of 2015 to 2,380 at the beginning of
In response to concerns over safety, the government has
considered introducing new laws to regulate the technology.
Towards the end of 2016, the CAA produced a "Dronecode"
attempting to simplify the rules for hobbyists in advance of the
expected clamour for the must-have Christmas gift.6 The
release of the Dronecode comes as the government continues its
plans to introduce comprehensive regulation to address safety
concerns, a process which commenced with a wide-ranging public
dialogue which was completed in February 2016.7
The Department for Transport is now inviting responses to its
public consultation8, which sets out some detailed
proposals, and which may ultimately give rise to new legislation.
The consultation is open until 15 March 2017.
The consultation focusses, in particular, on three key areas and
which are likely to be impacted by any future regulation:
Registration of all drone users
(presently there is a requirement for all commercial drone
operators to register with the CAA).
Regulate the provision of guidance to
drone operators to ensure that operators are aware of the Dronecode
and other applicable rules.
Require drone users to take out
insurance (noting that EC Regulation 785/2004 already requires all
drone operators to take out insurance unless the drone is used for
leisure and weighs less than 20kg).
Parties with an interest in drone regulation, whether looking to
enhance or dilute such regulation, should use the coming weeks to
make their views known as part of the consultation.
In January of this year the findings of "Project MARTHA", a three year study into the causes and effects of crew fatigue, were released – along with proposals as to how best to mitigate against the risks posed by crew fatigue.
It is common practice for traders, usually when they are the sellers of the goods and the charterers of a vessel, to instruct the carrier to discharge cargoes without production of the original bills of lading and to agree to indemnify the carrier against the consequences of doing so.
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