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    Grounded: Drones to Be Banned in London During Obama's Visit

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    The popularity of domestic drones has grown exponentially over the past few years. These increasingly sophisticated devices are used to facilitate aerial photography, but are also popular as toys.

    Because drones only began to enter the civilian market in recent years, the evolving regulations surrounding their use have been the subject of controversy — not least following reports that a civilian operated drone collided with a British Airways flight approaching Heathrow on Sunday. 

    In a move which is apparently unconnected to Sunday's incident, the authorities will be instituting a ban on drones throughout large parts of London during Barack Obama's visit this week to celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday. 

    The restrictions — which will be implemented by the UK’s National Air Traffic Service — are said to be part of an "overarching security plan," applied between 0900 (BST) Thursday and 2230 Sunday. The ban is similar to those applied during major sporting events such as the 2012 London Olympics.

    Although legislation does exist regarding the use of drones in the UK, there is no regulation as to who is allowed to own or operate the devices. As such, many drone operators are simply unaware of the rules associated with their use. 

    In light of Sunday's incident at Heathrow Airport, fresh concerns have been raised over the risks associated with civilian drone use, specifically regarding the need for stricter regulations.

    "The government is leading efforts with international bodies to develop a stringent regulatory framework focusing on safety and a working group is looking at the issue… Police forces across the country have been provided with guidance and there will be a public consultation before a government strategy is published later this year," a spokesperson for the UK's Department for Transport told Sputnik.

    The UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) currently directs people towards what it calls the "Drone Code," which demands that pilots retain a line of sight with their devices at all times, and keep it below 400 feet. The "drone code" also instructs drone operators to keep away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields. 

    Despite the temporary restrictions during Obama's visit — which will apply to all aircraft — the CAA are keen to point out that so-called "hobby" drone users are not actually permitted to operate within most of central London anyway, due to existing regulations regarding certain proximity with buildings and other people. 

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    Tags:
    state visit, UAVs, regulation, drones, Queen Elizabeth II, Barack Obama, Great Britain, United Kingdom, London
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