HEATHROW Airport was almost plunged into chaos when eco-warrior group Heathrow Pause tried launching drones near the airport.
But what is this eco group and why did they want to launch drones within the 5km exclusion zone? We take a look, below.
Eco-warriors have tried and failed to launch flimsy ‘toy’ drones in a calamitous bid to disrupt Heathrow Airport[/caption]
Who are the Heathrow Pause?
Heathrow Pause is a splinter of the Extinction Rebellion.
Extinction Rebellion describes itself as a non-violent direct action and civil disobedience group.
Its eco-warriors have demanded that the Government declares a climate emergency.
They want politicians to take urgent action on climate change and wildlife declines.
In particular, the activists want the UK to reduce its carbon emissions to “zero by 2025” and do more to “remove the excess of atmospheric greenhouse gases”.
On April 15, the environment “rebels” launched a range of attention-grabbing tactics to gain headlines, and prompt politicians into taking action to “avoid irreversible climate change and ecological collapse”.
The activists brought parts of busy London to a standstill with widespread demonstrations.
Police officers detain environmental activist James Brown at Heathrow Terminal 2, after climate change protesters tried to launch drones[/caption]
Why are they flying drones over Heathrow Airport?
Eco group Heathrow Pause has insisted its plans to fly drones within the 5km exclusion zone will still go ahead.
The move would be likely to see flights delayed and cancelled and bring misery to thousands of passengers at Britain’s busiest airport.
Anti-drone equipment was set up on the roof of the airport today as authorities plan to tackle any planned action.
Heathrow Pause previously released a 22-page document detailing their plot and saying members would be prepared to go to prison.
“We can’t stand aside any longer. As an act of conscience, we have to act.
“From the 13th September, we will exploit a loophole in Heathrow Airport’s health and safety protocols and fly toy drones within its restricted zone.
“It is our understanding that the airport’s authorities will respond by grounding all flights. Drones will not be flown in flight paths and there will be no risk of harm to anyone.
“We know that we will be arrested. We know that we face significant prison sentences for our actions.”
What are the drone laws in the UK?
High-risk specialist Aldo Kane investigates the threat drones pose to UK skies.
You do not need to register your drone or get a permit for a recreational drone in the UK.
If you are planning to use your drone for paid work, you will need Permission for Aerial Work – which must be reviewed annually.
The Civil Aviation Association is quick to point out that to keep drone flight safe and legal you may need permission depending on where you would like to fly the drone.
The Department of Transport launched new rules over the use of drones on July 30 2018.
- Drones must fly below an altitude of 400ft
- Drones that weigh more than 250g will need to be formally registered with the CAA
- Drone pilots must be able to present their registration documents when asked to do so by police
- Drone users will be told to use apps to plan their flights, to ensure they are not entering unsafe or no-fly zones
But the rules to follow are the key ones:
- Keep your drone within your line of sight and at a maximum height of 400ft.
- Make sure your drone is within 500m of you horizontally.
- Always fly well away from aircraft, helicopters, airports, and airfields.
- If it is fitted with a camera, make sure it is at least 50m away from a person, vehicle, building or structure not owned or controlled by the pilot.
- Camera-equipped drones must not be flown within 150m of a congested area of a large group of people.
Anything in the air close to the aircraft poses a hazard risk[/caption]
When is it illegal to use drones?
An unmanned aircraft must not be flown within the flight restriction zone of a protected aerodrome.
Where there is an air traffic control unit a flight at any height is prohibited.
Drones have been banned from flying above 400ft, and within one kilometre (0.6 miles) of airport boundaries.
It comes after 93 near-misses between drones and aircrafts were reported in 2017.
Children could be banned from flying drones weighing at least 250 grams.
The use of drones with cameras is also banned in congested areas or at a public event.
Aside from military missions, there are thousands of civilian drones used for aerial crop surveys, photography, search and rescue operations and delivering medical supplies to inaccessible reasons, among others.
Is there a fine?
Anyone breaching these restrictions will face penalties of up to £2,500 and could be charged with recklessly or negligently acting in a manner likely to endanger an aircraft or any person in an aircraft.
This has a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Other measures being considered include giving police the power to issue on-the-spot fines of up to £300 for misuse and the ability to seize drones being used irresponsibly.
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How dangerous are drones to aircrafts?
Anything in the air flying close to an aircraft poses a hazard risk.
Drones vary in sizes and weight, and many of them are very dangerous if they are around planes.
As of July 30, 2018, new laws came into play which ban all drones from flying above 400ft and within 0.6 miles of airport boundaries.
Drone users who flout the height and airport boundary restrictions or fly negligently could face an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison, or both.
In addition to the physical collision risks that drones pose to an aircraft, another big risk is from radio frequency interference.
If this happens, pilots can lose control of the plane, resulting in a crash.
Pilots have called for more testing on the potential impact of a drone on an engine but this would be expensive, reported The Guardian.