The UK’s primary air traffic management provider has signed a safety agreement with an unmanned air vehicle trade association to promote the safe use of small UAVs in UK airspace.

Acknowledging that the popularity of UAVs has increased, NATS and ARPAS-UK will market the safe use of small UAVs in order to ensure that they are operated within the frameworks of the law, while working to “maximise their potential applications”.

“While incidents involving drones in controlled airspace remain rare, NATS and ARPAS-UK believe it is important to help RPAS [remotely piloted air systems] operators to understand their responsibilities as pilots,” NATS says. “Those that don’t could potentially face criminal prosecution.”

The two organisations say that the commercial use of UAVs is “tightly regulated” and has required operational permissions, but they are easy to purchase and operators can be oblivious to these regulations.

“This new agreement will improve the communication within the industry and encourage an attitude of information dissemination for the greater good. ARPAS-UK is delighted to have formed this safety partnership with NATS and we look forward to fostering this relationship throughout 2015,” says Philip Tarry, chairman of ARPAS-UK.

“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,” adds James Harvey, small RPAS safety lead at NATS.

UAV - Rex Features

Rex Features

Meanwhile, the UK’s Military Aviation Authority has released a set of regulations regarding the use of UAVs under a notice of authorised amendment.

These regulations were the result of a 15-month review by the MAA and the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support trading entity, and introduces a classification system through which UAVs are categorised based on their size, how they are operated and the risk to people on the ground.

“The classification system, along with more specific regulations for RPAS, has created a much improved regulatory regime which is proportional and effective because it recognises the broad range of RPAS types and the appropriate level of regulation for each of them,” the government says.