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    UK Police Crack Down on Drone Operators After Heathrow Alert

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    The UK Metropolitan Police are investigating a reported collision between an aircraft and an unmanned drone near Heathrow airport in the latest in a series of clashes that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has told Sputnik it is powerless to stop.

    The pilot of the British Airway Airbus 320 reported hitting an object he thought was a drone at about 1,700ft (580m) while flying over south west London on approach to Heathrow. Chief Superintendent Martin Hendy, head of the Met's aviation policing command, said the incident highlighted "the very real dangers of reckless, negligent and sometimes malicious use of drones."

    A spokesman for the CAA told Sputnik that is is working with main drone manufacturers to program into the software a bar on flying in No-Fly Zones (NFZs) and in other restricted airspace — a process known as geo-fencing.

    "We are working with [drone manufacturer] DJI and other manufacturers to ensure that their products aren't misused. Geo-fencing is an option and it's one that manufacturers are embracing to ensure that their products aren't misused."

    However, he told Sputnik that not all products have geo-fencing.

    "Many devices you buy on the high street do not have geo-fencing. We strongly suspect that quite a few people are building their own devices and the technology isn't infallible and it can be overridden. Although it's a good initiative, it isn't 100 percent foolproof," he told Sputnik.

    He said the most the CAA could do is to continue to alert all users of the correct use of drones. "Our focus is on educating the consumer."

    "We know there is a small number of people who are not abiding by the rules, but in life there does seem to be some people who don't and it's up to the police to deal with those people. It is an offense and — if and when they are caught — they can be prosecuted.

    "We are doing all we can working with retailers to ensure anyone buying a drone understands what the rules are and abide by them and we're really confident that the vast majority of people do that. So that's very much our focus," he told Sputnik.

    Irresponsible Behavior

    Craig Lippett, Chairman of the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (ARPAS-UK) told Sputnik:

    "If true, it's another example of irresponsible behavior by what I believe to be recreational drone users. This undermines the safe and professional operation of commercial operators. There is no oversight of their activities, although they must abide by the same regulations."

    The reported incident took place at about 1,700ft (580m), which is way above recreational use.

    "It's very unusual to see them up at that height. You prohibited from flying above 400 ft (121m). Why would you want to operate at 1,700ft (580m), because the amount of power it takes to get up to that height takes almost over half of the flight time, which means you haven't go the power to get down to the ground," Lippett told Sputnik.

    "That, in itself, suggests that the pilot has given no real thought or planning to the actual flight. It suggests it's a recreational pilot, rather than a commercial operator."


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    safety, unmanned aerial vehicles, investigation, aviation, drone, collision, plane, police, technology, Heathrow, Metropolitan Police, Civil Aviation Authority, Great Britain, United Kingdom