Drone flights disrupt emergency helicopters and UK issues appeal

Drone flights disrupt emergency helicopters and UK issues appeal
Illustration – Source: UK-CAA

The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (UK-CAA) issued a statement yesterday, October 16, calling on all UK drone operators to be responsible and not fly their drones near air service helicopters.

The move follows a series of incidents where drones have disrupted emergency helicopter flights, including air ambulances.

In partnership with Yorkshire Air Ambulance, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has produced new video guidance to explain to drone operators the dangers of flying close to emergency helicopters and the impact on their ability to help sick patients.

Emergency service helicopters reported 9 cases in 2021 and 13 in 2022 where the pilot felt a drone had come too close to his aircraft.

Six of these incidents took place near the Royal London Hospital helipad. In the past 12 months, critical Yorkshire Air Ambulance flights have been hit by drones five times.

UK Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Jonathan Nicholson said:

“We are actively supporting the development of drones in the UK, exploring their full potential, including recreational flying.

But to achieve this, it takes common sense and everyone who operates the drone to fly safely. This is especially true near emergencies, where we’ve seen drones used to film an incident that could delay air ambulance helicopters.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance Pilot Commander James Booth said:

“If we go to an emergency and a drone is found, it can delay providing critical care to a patient while we check where the drone is and what it’s doing.

In many cases, the people we help need specialist trauma care as soon as possible and delays in reaching the patient or transferring them quickly to hospital can have a significant impact.

If a drone operator sees or hears a helicopter operating nearby, the safest course of action is to land the drone and pass the other aircraft. Anyone flying a drone when responding to emergency incidents such as road accidents, fires, floods and rescue operations must not fly in any manner that could affect emergency services.

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If you are flying a drone during or near an emergency, you must safely and immediately stop flying unless emergency services give you permission to continue.

You must:

– follow any temporary restrictions;

– take special care not to interfere with any emergency service helicopters;

– Respect and protect the privacy of anyone involved in an emergency.

The main guidelines and rules that drone users in the UK must follow are explained Drone code of Civil Aviation Authority. Most users need to register as a drone operator and pass an online test site United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority.

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