NATS commits to new safety partnership for UAVs

In the ever evolving UK legislative landscape for UAVs, the UK air traffic services authority, NATS has signed a safety partnership agreement with ARPAS UK. ARPAS UK is a trade association that represents a growing number of operators and stakeholders within the UAV (alternatively known as RPAS-Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems or drones) community.

The agreement is aimed at promoting the safe use of UAVs to ensure that their potential is maximised in a way that does not cause issues for other airspace users. The increasing capability of UAVs which can now readily reach 2,000ft, along with the growing number of them, has led to a need to address how the air space is safely shared.

Although the commercial use of UAVs is already well regulated with specific qualifications and permissions required to operate, for hobby enthusiasts a UAV can be easily bought and put to flight without any training or knowledge of the rules. The potential for a catastrophic incident is growing and although to date thankfully has not materialised, this proactive move by NATS to seek an agreement has to be applauded in a bid to keep the skies safe for all users.

Although criminal prosecution is already there as a measure, it will be of no benefit to the UAV industry for such prosecutions to be necessary – better prevention than prosecution.

James Harvey, NATS Small RPAS Safety Lead, has been quoted as saying: “There is no doubt that this is an exciting and growing industry. Drones are now both incredibly popular consumer gadgets as well as potential business tools. By working together with ARPAS UK we want to encourage the growth of the industry, but to also ensure that’s done in a safe and integrated way.”

Remote Aerial Surveys has always been a responsible operator but appreciates this move as it can only enhance the reputation of UAVs and remove concerns about employing UAV technology; thus increasing the number of businesses that can reap the benefits as the industry moves forward.