CAA tightens drone restrictions around airports

The recent changes to regulations covering the flying of drones near airports has been in the works for some time, but the Gatwick incident before Christmas raised the profile and importance of the changes.

From 13 March the present 1km exclusion zone from the boundary of a protected aerodrome (usually one with Air Traffic Control) will be expanded to the entire Aerodrome Traffic Zone (ATZ) (2nm or 2.5nm depending on runway length), and also the Runway Protection Zone, a block extending 5km by 1km from the end of the runway (5km by 1.5km at Heathrow).

Drone operations may still be possible in these areas but can only proceed with permission from the Air Traffic Control or aerodrome operator, and are likely to be limited to operators with a valid CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO), while also requiring greater planning.

The circular area and rectangular blocks in the diagram below show the areas now prohibited to drones without permission.


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