Careless fliers face 5 years in jail as new UK drone laws come into force


As of today (July 30) it's now illegal to fly a drone above 400 feet (120m) or within 1km of an airfield or airport boundary in the UK. Anyone who endangers an aircraft by flying a drone irresponsibly faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

More laws will come into force on November 30 2019, when pilots will be required to register all consumer drones weighing over 250g with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and pass online safety tests. Registration is already mandatory for pilots using drones commercially.

Flight safety

Today, the CAA published new research showing widespread support for tighter regulations on drones. In a survey of over 2,000 UK adults and over 350 UK drone users, 93 per cent of the general public and 96% of drone users said it was “vital” for pilots to follow the guidance laid out in the Dronecode – the CAA’s safety guidelines for drone pilots.

The Donecode’s five key principles are:

  • Don’t fly near airports or airfields
  • Remember to stay below 400ft
  • Observe your drone at all times
  • Never fly near aircraft
  • Enjoy responsibly

“As recreational drone use becomes increasingly widespread across the UK it is heartening to see that awareness of the Dronecode has also continued to rise – a clear sign that most drone users take their responsibility seriously and are a credit to the community,” said Jonathan Nicholson, assistant director at the CAA.

“Drones are here to stay, not only as a recreational pastime, but as a vital tool in many industries – from agriculture to blue-light services – so increasing public trust through safe drone flying is crucial."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)