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The UK’s Department for Transport has said today that an expansion of drone ‘no-fly’ zones to 5km around airport runways will come into force on March 13.
Anyone caught and convicted of flying a drone inside the restricted zones could face a fine and years in prison.
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Last month the government said it would tighten restrictions on drones flights around airports, after the existing 1km limit was criticized for being inadequate — saying it believes expanded no-fly zones will help protect airports from drone misuse.
The 1km drone exclusion zone around airports, and a 400ft drone flight height restriction rule, only came into force last July. But ministers came in for sharp criticism following the Gatwick Airport drone fiasco when a spate of drone sightings near the UK’s second busiest airport caused a temporary shutdown of the runway and travel disruption for thousands of people right before Christmas.
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Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, also briefly halted departures after further sightings of drones last month.
“The law is clear that flying a drone near an airport is a serious criminal act. We’re now going even further and extending the no-fly zone to help keep our airports secure and our skies safe,” said transport secretary, Chris Grayling, in a statement today.
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“We are also working to raise awareness of the rules in place. Anyone flying their drone within the vicinity of an airport should know they are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally, and could face imprisonment.”
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