K J Foxhall  

Drone pilots submit evidence to parliament and receive reckless threats

The recent Heathrow and Gatwick airport “drone issues” have undoubtedly raised awareness of drones. Some of it however, it not welcomed popularity, especially by those of us who do not think that drones were in any way responsible for delaying recent flights.  

Pending a probable ‘Drones Bill’ in 2019, Parliament’s Science and Technology committee have released an inquiry, where drone operators and enthusiasts, can submit evidence regarding the commercial and recreational use of drones in the UK.  

For those of you reading this who have a keen interest in drones, this is your opportunity to submit evidence to parliament, and detail how you feel about the ethics, public privacy and the commercial, as well as recreational gains, when drone flying. While we already have an understanding of how much it is going to cost to register drones in the UK, and if you are like our household and have more than one, if the negative opinions surrounding these unmanned aircrafts are minimised, then the rewards may come in the form of minimal fees to pay by the owner.  

The husband and I provided separate written evidence which has been published. 

So far, universities, recreational pilots, commercial pilots and law firms to name a few, have submitted evidence and recommendations. If you would like to submit evidence please do so by clicking here

Drones have had a range of positive impacts across a variety of industries, from commercial photography and aerial surveying, through to crop spraying and parcel delivery. 

The summary of my evidence is clear in that with any device, craft or vehicle, you have good and bad operators. Those that are good will follow the rules, apply common sense, identify risks and appreciate that they are operating a machine, that can cause damage in one way or another. But of course, there will always be the bad ones that have to ruin it for everyone else.  

On that note, regarding “reckless threats”, last week the climate change group Extinction Rebellion were again featured in the press stating that they will bring Heathrow airport to a standstill, by flying drones in restricted airspace. This is in a bid to cancel plans to build a third runway at the transport hub.  

Reports of drone sightings between 19 – 21 December 2018, forced Gatwick to cancel 1,000 flights leading to disruption for thousands of passengers. In January 2019, Heathrow airport also confirmed that some of their flights as a “precautionary measure”, were halted due to a drone sighting.  

Firstly, and as mentioned above, there was never any clear pictorial evidence recorded of drone sightings at these airports. Please also bear in mind that a seagull can take down a drone, so while I wouldn’t want to bet money on this, I can’t imagine a drone would take down a commercial jet. A helicopter, or a very small manned aircraft perhaps, so the fact that this group are perpetuating the stigma and hearsay, basically states that they have found common ground with these airports rather than going against them.  

Since the disruption occurred, both airports have invested in anti-drone technology, which leads me to question why this was not already in place.  

While Extinction Rebellion are actually making headway regarding publicity for climate change, having been a marine conservationist for over a decade, I know that there are ways to get your point across, in a non-threatening manner and also influencing people in the process. However, many of Extinction Rebellion’s methods will push people away rather than pull them in.  

They have already disrupted people getting to work in several cities across the UK, which ensured that some individuals lost money. Now they are looking at disrupting people’s holidays. Again, I stress that this is not the way to win people over, and if they go through with flying drones in restricted airspace, well, I predict that this will only go against them as well as the responsible drone pilot community. Their actions could very well cause consequences, and the part I find ironic is that the ramifications would involve a device that does not affect climate change whatsoever, and could be used as a replacement for some manned crafts that are contributing to the cause of climate change.  

While it has not been confirmed yet if the group plan to use drones in this irresponsible fashion, I think it is safe to say that this is one example of how they do not think through some of their concepts.  

If you would like to submit evidence regarding the expected forthcoming “Drones Bill”, please do so by clicking here

Below is a recent flight from my Instagram page. If you are curious about drones, then please go and have a look at some of my footage. There are no aerial theatrics yet, but watch this space, I’m just getting warmed up.
“LIMA” my Mavic Pro

1 Comment


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