This is how many near-misses drones have had with planes in the UK this year

There have been more than 100 near-misses between drones and aircraft in the UK so far in 2018.

Airprox, which records all potential collisions between planes and objects, lists a total of 128 incidents from January to November this year, with 117 of those specifically involving drones.

Of the recorded incidents, 33 were classed as a Category A risk – meaning “a situation where providence had played a major part in the incident and/or a definite risk of collision had existed”. Out of these, 30 involved drones. A further 29 potential drone collisions were classified as Category B: “a situation where safety had been much reduced below the norm to the extent that safety had not been assured”.

Since 2014, the number of incidents involving drones and aircraft has risen by 1,850 per cent, increasing dramatically from the six near-collisions recorded in 2012.

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After all flights to and from London Gatwick airport were grounded for more than 24 hours this week as a result of drones being “deliberately” flown over the airfield, many are calling for tighter regulations on drone use.

Some 126,000 passengers were due to travel on Friday 21 December, but at least 145 out of the scheduled 837 flights were cancelled as the airport was restricted to just a few departures and arrivals per hour.

“Tougher laws and enforcement” are needed to prevent drones disrupting passenger flights, the British Pilots Association (BALPA) said.

The association’s head of flight safety, Rob Hunter, said: “The public needs to understand that drones are not just toys and could have catastrophic consequences if they collide with an aircraft. We know a lot of drones will be under people’s Christmas trees and we implore them to ensure they’re aware of the rules and fly their drones in a safe and sensible manner.

“These drone sightings at Gatwick are further evidence that tougher laws and enforcement are required to keep drones clear of manned flights. That’s why we need the registration and education process in force sooner rather than later, so people flouting the law can be caught and prosecuted.”

He also called on the government to consider toughening the law to create a larger no-fly zone around airports.

The European Regions Airline Association (ERAA) also called for “more robust and harmonised EU-wide safety regulations”.

Montserrat Barriga, ERAA director general, said: “The use of airport geo-fencing systems which track the trajectory of a drone will go some way to combating this menace, but it is now a priority to toughen laws and create larger no-fly zones around airports. 

“Equally, considering more drones are likely to be given as gifts this Christmas, it is clear more education must also be given to ensure the public know how to fly in a safe and sensible manner. 

“In the meantime, it is imperative that all governments take the necessary steps to expedite the regulation process of drone operations, both commercial and recreational.”

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